GIG REVIEW: Trivium, Code Orange, Power Trip & Venom Prison Live at Birmingham O2 Academy, UK
The evening of a Tuesday in April 2018 saw the established American metal band Trivium play in Birmingham, UK, supported by three of the most talked about ‘new’ acts in contemporary heavy music: namely Code Orange, Power Trip, and Venom Prison. The show, and the general tour spanning numerous dates across the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, was in support of Trivium’s 2017 album ‘The Sin and the Sentence’, which was released last October.
Welsh death metal/grind/hardcore band Venom Prison took to the stage first, just 30 minutes after doors but with a sizeable crowd given the capacity of the venue itself. It can be considered quite a significant achievement for a band that you’ve seen 4 times prior to this night put on the best set you’ve yet to see them play, with a setlist that was split pretty decently between material from 2016’s ‘Animus’ and the ‘Primal Chaos’ EP that was released the year before that. The fact that this band given the intensity of their music, are somehow better live the bigger the stage is, is unbelievable. By far the best Venom Prison set I’ve seen yet, and it makes me look forward to the next time I’ll see them. Larissa has the best stage presence of anyone in metal/hardcore, etc, right now. No one else comes close.
US throwback-thrashers Power Trip were up next, after a 15 minute or so changeover time between Venom Prison and themselves. Unlike the band before them who I’d seen a fair few times before this show, Power Trip were a band I’d only seen once before, supporting Napalm Death also in Birmingham last year. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to actually find out more about them, and that knowledge of their music definitely helped their set be more enjoyable than it would’ve been otherwise. Municipal Waste are wicked and all, but in terms of legitimately heavy thrash bands of this era, Power Trip are going to be remembered as one of the best.
Typically when a band gets a considerable amount of attention in the music press, some can automatically be turned off by the overload of constant coverage that seems to appear. With Code Orange, however, that attention is entirely justified. It’s rare that a band comes along full of musicians who are so undeniably talented – regardless of whether you like their music or not – but who at the same time have an incredible amount of self-belief without it spilling over into unappealing arrogance. To watch some of Code Orange walk past me in the queue to go to the supermarket, and then a few hours later watch them play “Forever”, “Kill the Creator”, “Bleeding in the Blur”, as well as material from ‘I Am King’ as well as their brilliant new song “Only One Way” was so bizarre that it nails Code Orange’s name into the concrete as one of heavy music’s best bands for this generation. Code Orange is forever.
And finally, it was time for Trivium to deliver the last performance of the night itself. Coming on stage to Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” (something they had done the previous time I’d seen them as well), the band ploughed through a good dozen and a half songs or so, with something from almost every album throughout their fairly lengthy discography. The obvious emphasis on new songs from last year’s ‘The Sin and the Sentence’ meant that at this particular show tracks like “Strife”, “Down from the Sky”, “Dying in Your Arms” and various others were noticeably absent (to me at least), but nonetheless the balance between material from ‘The Sin and the Sentence’ and songs from Trivium’s earlier work was fairly 50/50. One thing that is great is that the new songs sound way better live than they do on record, which boosted the atmosphere long enough for the band’s encore of “Pull Harder…” and “In Waves” to close things off.
It can be pretty uncommon for there to be a tour where you like every single band on it, but this was definitely the case with this Trivium headline run along with Venom Prison, Code Orange, and Power Trip. A fantastic variety in terms of different strands of musical heaviness, and the diversity in terms of audience turnout was something noteworthy too. It’s pretty rare to see thrash, pop-punk, hardcore and death metal fans all at the same show waiting to see the same bands. That sort of camaraderie is often lost, so big up Trivium for doing their best to bring it back.