Trivium, Heart Of A Coward & As Lions Live At Portsmouth Pyramids, March 22nd

Trivium are without a doubt one of the best live bands around. I've seen them 7 times over the last decade without ever seeing them play a bad show. That is pretty impressive by anyone's standards. To say I was excited when they announced a smaller more intimate tour in support of their most recent album 'Silence in the Snow' would be an understatement, especially since it meant they would be hitting my home town for the first time in 6 years.

Opening tonight's proceedings are London's own As Lions, riding in on the wave of momentum that they garnered from their massive support slot at Wembley with Five Finger Death Punch last winter.  In a nice bit of symmetry frontman Austin Dickinson's previous band Rise to Remain were the opening band the last time Trivium played this very venue. With that said As Lions are a much better prospect, and do a great job of warming tonight's crowd up with their own brand of metalcore. They make a good impression that creates a great atmosphere and despite their set tonight being a little workmanlike in places they show all the makings of a band that could easily take the ball and run with it in the future. If they can nail a good headline tour and debut album then there is no reason they can't live up to the aspirations they have.

Up Next are Heart of a Coward, who seem to have attracted a large part of tonight's audience by themselves. The place erupts into chaos the minute they hit the stage, with pits of human bodies clashing all over the place. Having never really listened to them i wasn't really sure what to expect, however I was pleasantly surprised by not only how heavy they were, but also their ability to control a crowd that despite having some of their own fans in it, was largely someone else's. This is one of those performances that is self assured and played as though it is a headline show. It's a bold move to try and steal the night from a headline act, but then based on tonight's evidence Heart of a Coward are a bold band.

Tonight was only ever going to belong to one band though, and it's clear from the minute Trivium walk out to a heroes welcome, who everyone is here to see.  To be fair to Trivium, when you can open a set with 'Silence in the Snow', 'Into the Mouth of Hell we March', 'Strife' and 'Rain' then you kind of expect all eyes to be on you. This is Trivium's first UK headline tour in a couple of years and there first UK appearances since the release of their stunning new album 'Silence in the Snow' so to say their confidence is at an all time high would be like saying water is wet.

Its becoming harder and harder to not put Trivium in the same conversations as bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and bands of that ilk. In the 10 years since their debut they have morphed into one of today's premier metal bands, and a band that is blazing a trail for modern metal in a way those aforementioned bands did when they took metal from the underground into the mainstream.

Trivium are a well oiled, tight and intense musical machine, that tonight plays with the precision, and showmanship of a band playing to 80,000 in Donington Park. As they run through a career spanning setlist that showcases not only how far they have come as songwriters but also performers. The newer material sounds just as exciting live as it does on record and provides the perfect balance to the bands earlier work.

I wondered when this tour was announced if perhaps the venues Trivium were playing were too small for them, as though they had reached a point where they had outgrown this. In many ways I was right but in a lot of ways this feels like Trivium's victory lap, like they are taking a final run at  all the places that initially put them on the map on their first UK tours. This has let them reach out to all the fans who have supported them before they become a band that will go on to just touring larger venues in the bigger cities. It's an incredible thing they have done and its rewarding as a fan to see them play a show of such power to such a willing and appreciative audience. It is truly something to behold. Every fan hangs on every note and every word and all 4 members of the band look genuinely thrilled to be here.

There is a special feeling in the air tonight, like you are witnessing history and watching a band take their final steps on a decade long journey that will finally see them breakthrough into the elite and become the next band to reach the arena/festival headline circuit. Trivium have always been a brilliant band, but armed with these songs and on this form. They just became untouchable.

10/10

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