Wrapping up “The Sin and the Sentence” touring cycle that began in late October 2017 and saw them trek all through the US, Canada and Europe for more than 100 dates, the road warriors in Trivium are back for another leg of North American dates that will see them hit 25 more cities through November 3rd. Joining in on the fun for this leg are the supergroup-esque fellas in Light the Torch and the ever entertaining band out of Gothenburg, Sweden, Avatar.
For the Oct. 9th show in Thrashville . . . yes, Thrashville! Haven’t you heard? We don’t just do country music here in Music City anymore! For this show the tour hit up the cozy Cannery Ballroom for what had to be close to a sold out date. Well before the doors opened, the line to get in wound through the parking lot and around the corner for at least two blocks with people continuing to pile in up until the show started. When Light the Torch took the stage, the room was already at least three-fourths full if not more. Not bad on a Tuesday night in a town known for its twang, not for its headbang!
Light the Torch, as most of you know, consists of an immensely talented and experienced lineup: lead singer Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed), guitarist Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish, Hiss of Atrocities), bassist Ryan Wombacher (Bleeding Through) and drummer Mike “Scuzz” Sciulara (Extinction A.D., This is Hell). After releasing two albums, ‘The Beauty of Destruction’ and ‘They Bleed Red,’ under the name Devil You Know, the band returned as Light the Torch with their latest release, the aptly titled ‘Revival,’ in March 2018 and have been on the road throughout the year in support. The guys wasted no time once they were in position on stage, ripping straight into “The Bitter End” with Howard pausing briefly afterward to introduce the band, “We’re Light the Torch,” and continuing into “Calm Before the Storm.” Having seen them headline back in July, it was obvious something was missing from their performance this night. Besides Howard’s vocals being buried in the mix, Wombacher’s heavenly harmonies were nowhere to be found. Not realizing he didn’t have a mic in front of him I chalked it up to opening acts not always having the best light and sound production available to them. However, after their set I learned Ryan was sick and his voice was shot so he was trying to salvage it for the rest of the month long tour. But, as they say, the show must go on and on it went with Howard finally taking a moment to engage the audience with playful banter as he usually does, “Sup Nashville? We’re Light the Torch, and uh, this is The Sin and the Sentence Tour! Make some noise! I mean, this tour has been amazing . . . we get to hang out with you guys. [Pointing to someone in the crowd] It looks like Moses parted your hair! I apologize for anything that I will say” before they launched into “The Safety of Disbelief” and “Consume the Damned.” The crowd finally voiced their displeasure with Howard’s lack of volume, “Turn your mic up!” several folks yelled. “What? Turn my mic up? Do you see a damn knob on this thing?” he joked back. “You heard her . . . give the black guy a voice!” which brought a huge cheer from the crowd. The guys wrapped up their shortened set with “Die Alone” and “Embracing the Torture.” We here at Metal Nexus wish Wombacher a speedy recovery as his harmony to Howard’s powerful roar really completes the live sound of Light the Torch, and selfishly I like seeing one of my favorite bands and all around great dudes firing on all cylinders. If you make it out to this tour, make sure to stop by the merch booth to support these guys.
Bringing their harlequin spiced flavor of Swedish metal to the stage next was Avatar, a band known as much for their lavish stage presentation as their wide ranging sound. I had never seen Avatar live prior to tonight so I was anxious to see what all the hype was about and I was not let down. These guys were a concert photographer’s dream. From the harlequin face paint and marching band uniforms, to the giant Avatar light behind the drum riser and the synchronized windmill headbanging, these gents were a pleasure to witness and shoot. After the house lights dropped and the giant Avatar sign behind the band slowly lit up letter by letter to the beat of a droning bass drum, the crunchy chugging intro riff to “A Statue of the King” galloped for about 20 seconds before coming to an abrupt stop. Frontman Johannes Eckerström, face aglow from the lights positioned under him at the front of the stage, basked in the raucous cheers from the crowd for a brief moment before belting out the intro verse a cappella until the band joined in and thundered through one of their more aggressive tunes of the evening. Though heavily rooted in metal, Avatar’s catalog encompasses a vast array of musical styles and tonight’s setlist showcased it all as they quickly transitioned into “Hail the Apocalypse,” led off by a lively beat from drummer John Alfredsson and a chant of “Hail! Hail! Hail!” from the crowd. After, ringleader Eckerström greeted the horde, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, outcasts, freaks, mistakes and miscarriages . . . We are Avatar! And we’re here to kick your asses. And you’re here ‘cause you’re sick in the head and we’re into that kind of shit! Are we ready to have a good time? I need horns in the air and keep them there! Nashville, are you ready?! Are you ready to bleed Nashville? Well do your best to bleed on me ‘cause this is “Paint Me Red!” Sticking with the bloody theme, Avatar bled right into “Bloody Angel” before landing on fan favorite “The Eagle Has Landed,” a song complete with a boisterous crowd sing-a-long and one of many dueling guitar solos from Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström. After following up with “Torn Apart,” they played what had to be the highlight of their set, “The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country.” With bubble machines filling the front of the room, Avatar continued to showcase their range and brought the twang back to Nashville with this southern rock and country stained ditty that features a bouncy guitar riff and driving bottom end, courtesy of bassist Henrik Sandelin, permeating through the song. Unfortunately, with the party now in full swing and reaching a crescendo, the time had come for Avatar to exit through clown alley but not before wrapping up with a most appropriate tune, “Smells Like a Freakshow,” and considering the heat plus the fact that we were packed in like sardines, I can attest . . . it most certainly did! I’m hoping Avatar returns to the states soon to headline a tour because I can’t imagine the spectacle should they be given a larger stage and more time.
Hard to believe that headliners Trivium have been around for nearly 20 years, but here we are, eight studio albums later, as the band arrives in Nashville in support of their most recent album ‘The Sin and the Sentence.’ After being treated to Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” over the PA, frontman Matt Heafy, guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto, and new guy, drummer Alex Bent immediately pummeled the audience with “Betrayer,” a track off the new album. It was instantly evident why Bent was picked for the gig back in early 2017. The guy is a monster behind the kit and after a few drummers is, according to Heafy in interviews, the guy they’d been searching for all along. He definitely gives Trivium the ability to push their music to more extreme ranges. They followed that up with a track recorded here in Nashville, “Throes of Perdition” off their fourth album, ‘Shogun.’ Following their third song, Heafy, whose command of the stage and delivery reminded me a lot of WWE era The Rock, took to the mic to issue a challenge to the already rowdy crowd. “How the fuck y’all doin’ tonight? My friends, we gotta be way fuckin’ louder than that! How the fuck we all doin’ tonight Nashville?!” After a much louder roar, “That’s what I’m talking about. We are Trivium, it is our pleasure to be back. It has been way too fuckin’ long my friends. Right now we’ve been on this tour for about 6 or 7 shows and right now the best crowd we have seen all tour long has been Raleigh, North Carolina.” Obviously soliciting a long “boooo” from the crowd. “Now our fourth record was recorded right here in Nashville, Tennessee. So, if you guys wanna top Raleigh, North Carolina my friends we all gotta step it way the fuck up! This is “Into the Mouth of Hell We March.” Smelling what Heafy was cooking, the place erupted into one giant pit. The band went on to play several more songs including one of their more radio friendly tunes “Until the World Goes Cold,” before coming to “He Who Spawned the Furies,” a song that Heafy said had never been played on a tour before (they debuted it on the first date of this current tour) and, fun fact, a song recorded in Nashville at the same time and studio where a young Hannah Montana was recording back in 2008. Trivium would go on to play a total of 13 songs before the lights went out and I don’t think the crowd stopped moshing, jumping or circling the entire set. A highlight for me had to be watching Corey and Matt soloing on “A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation.” I’ve always been a sucker for harmonized guitar solos and it’s good to see that some musicians still take the time to practice and master their craft and it was obvious these guys still run their scales. The fellas would appear for an encore of three more songs, “Strife,” “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr,” and “In Waves,” before calling it a long night. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday night indeed.
Trivium, Avatar, and Light the Torch will be on the road in the midwest US before heading up to Canada and back west across the states ending up in California at the beginning of November. If metal is your sin, then your sentence is picking up a ticket or two and getting out to a show!