What can I even say about Trivium at this point? They’re modern-day metal legends and very beloved here in the UK. For me, they’re a band I’ve always known. As long as I’ve been listening to metal, I’ve been listening to Trivium. I’ve seen them live many times, and they’re always a solid live act. Be it as a headliner, a support act or on the bill of a festival. They always manage to bring the very best out of any crowd they’re in front of. They’ve been coming to the UK for nineteen years and each time I’ve had a chance to see them their talent, enthusiasm and determination are always upfront and centre. They clearly love coming to the UK and the UK in return loves them in return. So on a very wet January Saturday night, this was a real treat to go to. Manchester O2 Victoria Warehouse is a very big venue and the people were packed in tight. The crowd were rearing and ready to go and the bands were more than happy to deliver.
Opening up the night was the powerhouse from Sheffield, Malevolence and the crowd immediately went straight to riot mode. The love for this band was very apparent and the band, in turn, gave the audience a show to write home about. I’ll admit, I’ve not listened to them in a long time, so I was not really up-to-date with their current material but man, they impressed me so much that I wanted to immediately download all of their music and listen to it on replay. These guys put on a clinic. Their set was so tight and the time felt like it went by so quickly as I was having such a good time and just being a part of the atmosphere, it felt like being a part of something bigger than myself. I think the stand-out songs of the set for me were “Higher Place” and “Keep Your Distance”. Very clearly these were both very beloved tunes. “Higher Place” was this massive crescendo of a ballad that made for an excellent sing-along anthem. Whereas, “Keep Your Distance” was a brutal beatdown of a tune that got the pit opened up.
I was really impressed by them. The Sheffield lads brought the fire and just like that their set was over. A punchy, powerful set that got the crowd warmed and limbered up for the heavy night to come.
I was so ready for the next band. The legendary German metallers, Heaven Shall Burn, have been around now for nearly three decades bringing fierceness and fire to the metal world. Their unique mix of hardcore, thrash and groove metal is really something to behold. If you’ve never had a chance to see them, I would highly encourage it. They bring so much to the game and I have always appreciated them. Opening for Trivium wasn’t the first place I’d have thought to see them in the UK, but hey, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I will say, I have seen better shows from them in terms of live production.
The microphone was almost inaudible for most of the set. I even spoke to other patrons to check it wasn’t just me, and it wasn’t. I feel after the great sound mixing of Malevolence, that this should have been a slam dunk, but it was a little disheartening.
Technical issues aside, this was still a well-put-together set and the crowd were into it. If you’re a fan of the band it was great hearing a range of songs from their career in such a short space of time. If you’re new to the band this was a great crash course in the band’s discography. Of course, I was having a blast, hearing tunes like “Übermacht” and “Behind a Wall of Silence” were a treat. The band themselves looked like they were having a great old time in Manchester. They had that fire and they unleashed it on the crowd. The great thing about Victoria Warehouse is there is so much floor space that multiple mosh pits can happen at the same time. To which Heaven Shall Burn looked at and thought “not good enough” as they commanded that the floor open up. It was an intense atmosphere and it was really great hearing them again. Closing the set on a cover of Edge Of Sanity’s “Black Tears” and their massive hit “Endzeit” was enough to call this an excellent set.
Capping out this night of excellent music, obviously the headliners, Trivium. Like I asked before, what do you even say about them, that hasn’t already been said? Their set hit hard from the outset. They had a big balancing act to do and I think it was managed pretty well. I mean they released both What The Dead Men Say and In The Court Of The Dragon during the covid pandemic period. Also, they had to accommodate fans that were there for the hits. I think the setlist was pretty strong all being considered. There was a great mix that would surely please old-school and new-school fans of the band. Trivium were absolutely on point, they were so tight all aspects of the band came together. Like, I don’t think I could pick apart any point of the set or performance. I think frontman Matt Heafy has got the British sense of humour down. As he was easily able to banter with the Manchester crowd and egg them on to be even more riotous than they previously were. The crowd pushed and moved and there really didn’t feel like there was any space to move up front. I think some serious credit has to go to Alex Bent on the drums. He kept the set chugging along and never missed a step. Even when the guitars are going crazy and the riffs are that momentous, he managed to keep everything in check and was really the dependable anchor for the whole group.
It was so good hearing some of these gongs live finally. I love the album What The Dead Men Say and hearing songs like “Amongst The Shadows & The Stones” and the title track “What The Dead Men Say” was an amazing experience. It was so great to hear the roar of the guitar and the slap of bass that comes with those tracks. A surprise the set had in store was hearing “To The Rats” from the album The Crusade. It was nice of them to reach down into their back catalogue for that one. It was just an overwhelming set that brought all of the best aspects of the band, full force, to life. The main set closed out with two brilliant songs. “The Hate From Your Heart” got the Manchester crowd singing at the tops of their lungs. The atmosphere for this track was so on point and Heafy conducted the crowd with passion then they swiftly moved into “Shogun”. For those who have never experienced that song live it’s a mind-melting tune and something you really need to experience in the flesh as words just do not do it justice.
Without much of a break, they moved into the encore. The instrumental building up of “Capsizing The Sea” played as the anticipation grew. The collective scream of the intro to their titanic hit “In Waves” blasted, with everyone in the Manchester audience shouting as loud as possible. It’s easy to understand why this song is such a crowd-pleaser, it just allows the audience to participate in every way. The show came to a close with the beloved song “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr” and the night was done. Overall, an incredible set. This was such a great way to kick-start my 2023 with a show that delivered in all of the best ways.
Words by Mick Birchall
Photos by Philip Goddard