TRIVIUM, Sikth, Shvpes @O2 Institute, Birmingham 14/2/17


Trivium’s love affair with the UK continues on Valentine’s Day

They used to be called Cytota, but in truth Shvpes are a totally different band . Relatively experienced for ones so young, and now with a debut record out, the stage is set and they are shaping (sorry, we had to….!) up for a big year. The main reason for the change is that frontman Griffin Dickinson is part singer and part dervish, appearing to want to grab this chance by the scruff of the neck – or, if that’s not possible, then doing the same to the audience will do, as he proves in the closing “Shapes.” In between “Two Minutes Of Hate” and “Pain Joy Ecstasy Despair” showcase everything you would want from a modern, dynamic metal outfit. Crucially, the crowd loves them, so you can expect to see much more of the Brummies moving forward. They might be the Shvpe of things to come.

Before Shvpes there was Sikth – not literally you understand – but very much metaphorically that is the case. Only really since the whole djent thing blew up have people truly understood just how groundbreaking those first couple of Sikth album’s really were. Their subsequent return a couple of years back has been welcome and their live performances since have been almost uniformly superb. Tonight is no different. The twin vocalists approach survives even after Justin Hill left again last year, and Joe Rosser (Aliases) does a sterling job alongside the inimitable Mikee Goodman. Crushingly heavy when they want to be as “Philistine Philosophies” from their recent EP proves, there aren’t many metal bands who would essentially recite poetry mid-set, but there aren’t many bands with the originality of Sikth. “When Will The Forest Speak?”, the aforementioned  spoken word interlude, a mighty “Pussyfoot” and a viscous “Bland Street Bloom” possess all the hallmarks of a band that only perhaps now, nearly 14 years since their first record are being seen for truly how good they are.

When someone in the crowd tells Trivium singer and guitarist Matt Heafy that they’ve seen Trivium on 53 other occasions, he looks shocked. Not for nothing, do you suspect does he say that Britain is where they feel most at home.

Certainly there is something about the Floridian’s that has always struck a chord over here rather than in their homeland. It can’t just be their Spinal Tap-esque commitment to going through drummers (although Alex Brent is making his English debut tonight). Instead, it might just be that of all the bands that sprung up in their wake, Trivium are the ones who most closely have elements of the British NWOBHM sound. Frequently here, Heafy and fellow guitarist Corey Beaulieu weave a twin guitar pattern to magnificent effect, not least on a quite brilliant “Rise Above The Tides”. At other points they are a full on thrash band and to that end “Entrance of the Conflagration” sounds huge here.

But it is about more, a lot more. Veterans of not far off twenty years, but still young themselves, Trivium are able to connect with their audience in a way most would only dream of. Right from the moment they enter with “Rain” to the moment about 90 minutes later when the watery theme continues with “In Waves” Heafy’s control of the crowd is breathtaking.

A career spanning set helps too and if it is heavy on song from their breakthrough, “Ascendancy” record, then that is only because that is a fine album. “A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation” and the absolutely stellar “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr” deserve their classic status these days.

And that rather is the point. 47 years and one day ago heavy metal was born – face facts everyone else, you never released Black Sabbath’s first album on February 13th 1970 – about four miles from here. But two weeks ago Sabbath played their last ever show and Iron Maiden might not be here forever either. Those looking for the next cab off the rank of the seasoned, but still youthful, band, but who have the chutzpah to take the place of the greats, might do well to look right here. The UK might love them more than the US but Trivium are nowhere near done yet.


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