Trivium & Switchblade @ The Roundhouse, UNSW Sydney (26/01/2007)

Walking through the crowd at The Roundhouse, any illusions of what a metalhead looks like are immediately destroyed. Alongside the pierced, beefy guys in solid black there are teenage girls in sparkly tops and stilettos, lanky teenagers with spiky hair and vertically-challenged women in day-glo shirts. This is an all-ages gig after all, and metal fans of all persuasions are out in force, curious to check out buzz-band Trivium. The guys have been getting rave reviews from the UK music press, but have only recently began to make waves in Oz, with their recently released LP The Crusade. From my empirical research concerning the BDO, it seems the fever is set to spread.

Switchblade scored the enviable position of support, but they seemed to me an unusual choice considering their much thrashier leanings. They certainly got the crowd moving though, several circle pits springing up like whirlpools of human flesh in a black void. They appeared to have many fans amongst the crowd, judging from the forest of devil-horns raised in tribute. SB put in a solid performance, with spiky, meaty guitar-work, yet I felt the mix left something to be desired – it felt dirty and somewhat distorted. But what they lacked in sound quality these guys made up for in pure enthusiasm.

A half hour later amongst stinky, sweaty metal-fans, Trivium introduced their show in dramatic fashion, with fantastical stage-art and stirring classical music ricocheting around the room from speaker to speaker. The guys entered to riotous applause: cue possessed fans bulldozing their way to the pit. The band’s youthful exuberance was palpable; they turned out a great collection of stuff from across all three LPs.  They obviously like to tease – when the crowd’s energy started to flag, they disappeared from the stage, emitting odd call and response riffs from around the room.

Lead singer/guitarist Matt Heafy rallied the crowd in style, initiating circle pits and vowing they’d be back. He even dedicated the song Dying in Your Arms to ‘The Lovely Ladies of Australia’. Yes, there is something slightly romantic about much of Trivium’s work, not in a corny HIM way, but their hard-edged guitars and heavy beats are clearly tempered by some competent melodic singing, and lush lead guitar parts. On the other side of the coin, however, the storming cover of Metallica’s Master of Puppets got the whole room chanting, moshing and thrusting fists high. Like Light to the Flies from the band’s 2005 release, Ascendancy, is also worth a mention, its sawing, transcendent guitars and epic vocals lodging in your brain like an aneurysm. Leaving a crowd dripping in sweat, the band exited the same way they entered – in a puff of smoke, soundtrack blaring over our heads.

The crowd emerged sweaty and red-faced, but gratified. Sure, we all looked like we’d taken a dip in hell’s bath-house, but it was a satisfied kind of exhaustion. The perfect end to Australia Day.

To check out the pics from the gig, click here