On the 2nd of December 2011, I joined 5 epic bands in Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall for Metal Hammer’s Defenders Of The Faith iii tour. When I got home, I quickly put this review together and put it on TicketMaster:

The show was opened by Insense, a relatively new band from Oslo, Norway, who managed to impress everyone in the audience from the first strike of strings. Vocalist Tommy Helmet apologised half way through for a temporary loss of his voice, to replies of indifference from their new fans, then introduced bassist John Hina’s incredible scream capacity, before continuing the set. It’s fair to say that Insense will go far in the shadow of In Flames, who personally recommend them both as fellow Scandinavians, and as similar-sounding bands.

During Rise To Remain’s sound check, Trivium’s Paolo Gregoletto was spotted and hailed in the balcony, appreciating his supports like a true fan. But when Austin jumps on stage with maximum flare and energy, all attention focused on Rise To Remain’s record-quality performance. Bruce Dickinson’s son showed unflawed stage performance as he climbed all over the set, and proved his devotion to their fans by throwing himself into the audience twice. This inadvertently started up lots of crowd surfing from those with momentum from leaving the mosh pit, which was extremely impressive for the duration of the whole set.

Rise To Remain play in the UK to fly the British flag proud, showing the rest of the world that we invented heavy metal, and we’re the best audience a band can wish for. To show his allegiance to his home country, Austin instructed the compliant audience to link arms in rows, halting the pit, and nod heads as one to their final song, from the EP, Bridges Will Burn. Perhaps the most patriotic thing they did was to get 12-year-old George to help out, and the crowd’s reaction to his incredible talent was moving to say the least.

Papa Emeritus’ reception was weak, as Ghost are relatively unknown in the UK, and once his Unnamed Ghouls marched on to Catholic chanting, the crowd’s reaction was one of surprise and confusion; how is a priest, who paints his face and arguably has no concrete band members, classified as heavy metal, or a defender of the Faith? It seems Ghost gained a few fans during their performance; however I doubt many people in this audience are likely to buy their album over Insense’s. Ghost  certainly kept up their semi-satanic act, and the crowd eventually warmed to their simple yet effective solos, and Emeritus’ skill in holding a decent tune and long notes. Luckily, to keep the crowd interested, when Ghost left the stage, on came a roadie in a monkey onesie.

In Flames kept us waiting the longest of all 5 bands. Once the roadies had done their thing, 20 minutes of teasing light bursts, guitar riffs and drum intros kept us on hot coals until finally, after having waited visibly in the wings for long enough, Anders appears in a flash of light and begins to scream like only he knows how to. Deliver Us was worthy of the gig’s first wall of death, with a deliberately extended introduction for added tension before the release. The crowd was amazing during the whole evening, especially considering Anders’ constant comic pleas of order and good behaviour were rightfully ignored, and even though there were people beating each other up in aggression and appreciation of the music, when one fell down, three picked him up again. In Flames’ final song of the night simply had the crowd going absolutely wild, Take This Life being a well-known favourite amongst fans.

When Trivium finally appeared, after the monkey had transformed into a horny devil and stolen the show, they were applauded like the true heroes of heavy metal that they are. Opening with In Waves, everyone in the first few rows of the pit was crushed up towards the stage to try to reach Matt and Corey during their epic riff battle, and Heafy was clearly impressed by the British crowd’s adoration for his band’s music. His continuous smile was evidence of that, and also the fact that their first ever UK gig was in Wolverhampton. Trivium are known for performing like you would hear them on their records, and their reputation was certainly not ruined tonight.

Some of the best features of Trivium’s performance for me were their mixture of old favourites and new singles, Heafy’s care for a fallen fan who had taken a beating in the pit, and the one opportunity to bellow any word you wanted, all at once, because the opportunity to do so in public doesn’t come around very often. As has been done at every venue since the release of their new album, Heafy taught us all the response of Dusk Dismantled, which he expected to be helped out on, and was overwhelmed by our compliance. Heafy also mentioned half-way through that Trivium partly owed their existence in the metal world to In Flames, who they were proud to have as a support band.

The reception from the audience was incredible, and the audience clearly loved the mash-up of 5 massive metal bands all in one night. This was by far my favourite gig of all time, and I would recommend the final few shows of this tour to anyone who hasn’t experienced Trivium’s might before. Faith defended.

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