Defenders Of The Faith III Live in London Review From Brixton Academy

Trivium on stage at Defenders Of The Faith III at Brixton Academy

For months, UK metal fans have been eagerly awaiting the start of December 2011 for two particular tours; The Eighth Plague Tour, featuring Machine Head and Devildriver amongst others, and the third Metal Hammer Defenders Of The Faith Tour, headlined by Trivium and with a fine supporting cast of special guests In Flames, Ghost, Rise To Remain and Insense. With the Machine Head show having come and gone the night before, it was time for Rock Sins to head to Brixton Academy in London for the show at the halfway point of the Defenders Of The Faith Tour to see if Trivium and friends could match the previous evening’s entertainment.

Due to waiting for some fellow headbangers, we were not present inside Brixton Academy in time to catch opening band Insense. We were however present for London’s own Rise To Remain who were warmly welcomed to the stage by the assembled masses for their home-town stop of the tour. Austin, Joe, Will, Ben and Pat had come meaning serious business and the stage was a whirl of movement as they launched into the first single from their debut album City of Vultures (of which you can see a review of here if you so wish), The Serpent. We didn’t even make it through the first song before Austin Dickinson was living up to the family reputation as an energetic frontman, climbing the speaker stack at the side of the stage before swiftly leaping back down to lead the audience in singing the chorus. “Brixton, This Day Is Yours!” yelled Austin as Rise To Remain launched into their latest single This Day is Mine, before the title track from City Of Vultures really got the crowd going.

Rise To Remain on stage at Defenders Of The Faith 3 at Brixton Academy
Rise To Remain: This Day Was Theirs

Austin, along with Joe, Will and Ben were doing a formidable job of getting the already enthusiastic crowd fully onboard with their set and a big moshpit broke out when they launched into arguably the strongest track on City Of Vultures, Power Through Fear. This, along with Nothing Left passed by in a flash leaving Rise To Remain to close out their half hour set with Bridges Will Burn, leaving to a hugely positive reaction from the rapidly filling Brixton Academy. “Brixton this has been a dream come true” was Austin’s closing address to the crowd. On this evidence it may not be too long before they are back in venues of this size in their own right.

Rise To Remain’s full setlist was:

The Serpent
This Day Is Mine
City Of Vultures
Power Through Fear
Nothing Left
Bridges Will Burn

When the line up for Defenders Of The Faith was announced, I didn’t know much about Ghost aside from the fact that they had made a significant comeback during 2011 including what was reported to be a great performance at Download 2011. From a musical perspective, what little I did know about them seemed to make them stand out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the bands and this proved accurate in their performance. The staging was dark, evil and very effective but to say the music was not appreciated by the audience was something of an understatement. It seemed like the majority of people in attendance didn’t really know what to make of them. They received polite applause but the loudest cheer was at the end of their set as they departed which somewhat sums things up. Whilst I think it is good to put on tours with bands of different musical styles I think Ghost on this occasion were a difference too far and I don’t think they will have picked up too many new fans on this particular evening at Brixton Academy.

Papa Emeritus of Ghost on stage at Brixton Academy during Defenders Of The Faith III
Papa Emeritus: Lacking converts on this occasion

The crowd reaction for In Flames on the other hand could not have been more different as Anders, Bjorn, Daniel, Peter and Niclas were given a reception akin to one given to returning heroes (as In Flames have not done a full UK tour in over three years this is perhaps an accurate sentiment). The crowd’s appreciation for In Flames latest album Sounds Of A Playground Fading was evident from the off as the crowd sang along with every word to the set opening title track of the album, and then went equally as crazy for it’s first single Deliver Us.

In Flames Crowd Reaction during Defenders Of The Faith at Brixton
Brixton was very happy to welcome back In Flames to London

Another new track, All For Me was equally well received (after which Anders applauded the audience) and then the volume cranked up a notch further for The Mirrors Truth. In Flames also unleashed their rather spectacular on stage lighting boards during this song, making the experience very much a visual one as well as an enjoyable assault on the ears. The Quiet Place provided the first real trip into the In Flames back catalogue and Anders’ didn’t even have to get involved to get the whole crowd clapping along before launching into the trademark scream at the start of the song. Another portion of the set was then dedicated to songs from Sounds From A Playground Fading, with Fear Is The Weakness and new single Where The Dead Ships Dwell especially going down a storm.

Bjorn from In Flames shredding on stage during Defenders Of The Faith at Brixton Academy
Bjorn from In Flames: beard of legends

The PA system then teased everyone with the intro to what is one of the most loved In Flames songs of all time, Cloud Connected. The teasing rang true as after a couple of false starts Brixton was headbanging its way through the In Flames classic from the Reroute To Remain album. Sadly, this brought us to the end of In Flames’ alloted time and they departed in a triumphant fashion, though not before unleashing one more wave of carnage upon those in attendance with Take This Life from the Come Clarity album.

In Flames full setlist was:

Sounds of a Playground Fading
Deliver Us
All for Me
The Mirror’s Truth
The Quiet Place
Fear is the Weakness
Where the Dead Ships Dwell
Cloud Connected
Take This Life

On this evidence, In Flames look a band who have rediscovered the joy of performing live again and a band renewed by their latest album. The fact the band felt comfortable filling over half the set with songs from Sounds Of A Playground Fading speaks volumes about their faith in the album (especially when there are not too many bands with such an impressive back catalogue to draw on as In Flames have). Some longtime fans may grumble about the lack of older material in the set but it was fantastic to see an In Flames (and Anders in particular) so energised on stage.

It is a well known fact that despite some of the criticism they’ve endured over the years, The UK loves Trivium like nowhere else on the planet. Similarly, the band know just how much the UK has done for their career, so it is very much a two way relationship. As with In Flames, the roar greeting Matt, Corey, Paolo and Nick as they came onstage during the opening PA of Capsizing The Sea was that of a welcome home. The calm was swiftly shattered with the opening bellow of “IIINNN WWWAAVVVEEESS” from Trivium frontman Matt Heafy sending the majority of people at a packed Brixton Academy into a whirl of moshpits, complete with long hair flying everywhere. The title track of the latest Trivium album has a considerable punch behind it anyway but this is magnified in a live setting making it the perfect opening to the final act of Defenders Of The Faith III.

Those who look upon 2005’s Ascendancy as the bands finest hour (and there are many with that opinion) did not have to wait long to be pleased as In Waves dissolved straight into old favourite Drowned and Torn Asunder, the chorus to which prompting the first big Trivium singalong moment of the evening. The relentless pace of the opening was increased further as Nick Augusto launched into the intro to A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation without a moment’s breather turning the front two thirds of Brixton’s standing area into a sea of bodies who looked like they’d acquired pogo sticks from somewhere. During gunshot’s fantastic duelling solo between Matt & Corey air guitars were all over the place emulating what was happening on stage as enthusiastic chaos reigned all around the standing section.

Matt, Corey & Nick from Trivium on stage at Brixton during Defenders Of The Faith III
Trivium: Pulling All The Strings

New material was well interspersed with old as the likes of latest single Built To Fall fitted in nicely alongside Trivium classics such as Down From The Sky (which is always a real highlight live) and live rarities such as Ascendancy’s Departure (which was introduced by Matt telling everyone that it was a song they really struggled to be able to play and they’d had to relearn the song in order to be able to play it on the tour). Mr Heafy took great pleasure in comparing tonight’s crowd to the previous night’s show in Manchester, goading Brixton into being ever louder and more chaotic, taunting which the assembled throng of metalheads was more than happy to go along with. Aside from In Waves’ title track, arguably the best received of the new songs was Black, which prompted an enormous circle pit and much circle headbanging in every direction.

Even towards the end of the evening there was still time for old favourites to be mixed with some rarely heard material as the quintessential fan favourite Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr was followed by the opener to Shogun Kirisute Gomen, which to my knowledge got its only previous live UK airing prior to this tour at a fanclub show at The Borderline attended by approximately 200 people several years ago. The set was rounded off with a superlative rendition of Throes Of Perdition and the customary declaration that Trivium will always return to the UK.

Trivium’s full setlist was:

Capsizing The Sea (PA)
In Waves
Drowned and Torn Asunder
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Dusk Dismantled
The Deceived
Built to Fall
Down From the Sky
Like Light to the Flies
Caustic Are the Ties That Bind
Dying in Your Arms
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Kirisute Gomen
Throes of Perdition
Leaving This World Behind (PA)

There was no encore tonight and frankly it wasn’t necessary. Trivium brought to an end a fantastic evening’s worth of modern heavy metal which hopefully thrilled all those in attendance. There were many positives to the evening; Rise To Remain continue to prove their worth in a live setting which can only be good news for British metal. It’s hard to judge which of the other positives is the greater: Trivium’s re-ascent in the metal world as a band who are much better equipped to handle being one of metal’s modern champions second time round, or the desire and enthusiasm that seems to have re-awoken in one of the most pioneering of metal bands of the last two decades within In Flames. Either way, it was a fantastic night and fans of both bands will be clamoring for their return to UK shores as soon as possible. Rocksins’ message to both Trivium and In Flames is come back soon!

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