02 February 2014 (gig)
16 February 2014
Roadrunner Records has some of the best metal bands on its roster at the moment, including tonight’s co-headliners. Having released two of the best albums of 2013, this was a true coming together of metal giants, supposedly at the top of their game. This lineup, complete with solid support from Battlecross and Miss May I, promised, on paper at least, to be a contender for gig of the year.
Sadly, the sound at Brixton Academy is notoriously sketchy. Sometimes it’s clear as crystal, with all the subtleties coming through for an aural extravaganza, and sometimes it ends up sounding for the most part like wading through three feet of mud head first. This is traditionally the fate suffered by most support acts, as happened with Battlecross and Miss May I, not that the crowd down the front appeared to notice too much.
Expectation was still high for Trivium – this was the first airing in London of tracks from the excellent ‘Vengeance Falls’, and reports from around the country had Trivium on triumphant form. However, it was clear from the off that Matt Heafy and co were to suffer a similar fate as the supports. One of the things that made the new album so good was Matt Heafy truly discovering his voice, rather than trying to be James Hetfield or Dave Mustaine. Sadly, the fog of bass that descended as soon as they burst on with ‘Brave This Storm’ rendered all of this moot. This carried on through the classic ‘Like Light to the Flies’, newbie ‘No Way to Heal’ and the normally excellent ‘A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation’ and the band seemed to realise this, giving a less than enthusiastic performance. The lights didn’t do the band any favours either, completely out of time with the music being played, and to top off a sub-par night for the band, even regular set-closer ‘Pull Harder on the Strings of your Martyr’ feels subdued and lacking. This wasn’t a classic performance by a usually great band, but is more likely a blip than a sign of a drop in form.
Killswitch Engage, on the other hand, had no such problems. The sound certainly brightened a bit, but KSE are a band renewed since the return of Jesse Leach on vocals. Opening with a Howard Jones’ era classic from ‘The End of Heartache’, ‘A Bid Farewell’ highlighted just what Jesse brings to the table. Full of power and passion, KSE gave Brixton a show worthy of writing home about. Classic after classic then flowed, with prime cuts from every Killswitch album getting an airing. What was most evident is that this is a band having fun at the moment – Adam D almost always has a smile on his face, but he, along with the band, looked to be genuinely excited about performing together. ‘Rose of Sharyn’ has rarely sounded so good, and the onstage chemistry was there for all to see on ‘My Last Serenade’, ‘Fixation on the Darkness’ and ‘The End of Heartache’. By the time the band finished with ‘My Curse’, everyone has a smile on their face, band, crowd, security. Killswitch needed a big performance to help wipe the memory of the muddiness of Trivium’s performance, they delivered and we all walked away happy.