Fans of metal experienced a treat in heaviness Friday night at the sold-out Summit Music Hall in downtown Denver. International Swedish metal act In Flames and Florida-based Trivium reminded a diverse house of fans why metal has such staying power. The emotional levels were high and the energy inside even higher, evidenced by the sweat poured out by the bands and fans alike.
Kyng, a power trio from California, kicked off the night. Opening to a dead house is an insecurity widely shared among aspiring bands, which often expect to use an opening slot as a glorified practice. Kyng, however, grabbed the attention of the house, ran with it and, more importantly, had the audience sold. By the end of their half-hour set, hands were raised throughout the venue giving the horns sign.
Veil of Maya, out of Illinois, kept things rolling with a high-energy set of Deathcore. Their music largely mixes heavy breakdowns with fits of technical instrumentation, and garnishes that with the decidedly harsh growling of vocalist Brandon Butler. As their set progressed, the crowd compacted noticeably closer to the guarded stage, transforming the audience of individual headbangers into a unified mob. Fittingly, Veil of Maya called for a celebratory circle-pit to close their set and usher in the night’s headliners.
The anticipation for Trivium was palpable as the roadies hurriedly changed out equipment and cables. As the restlessness of the crowd increased, synchronized, tri-syllabic chants of the band’s name carried on until drummer Nick Augusto took up throne behind his kit; at this point the chants were replaced by boisterous screams of excitement from the audience.
The rest of the Orlando, Fla.-based band soon followed and immediately entered into their set with the recent single “In Waves,” also the title track from their latest album. The song served as an apropos introduction to the band’s sound and stage presence: bouncing back and forth from power-stanced thrash metal to sweeping, melodic hooks. The crowd, seemingly as vested in the music as the band, sang the words and air-drummed the fills right on point with the real players. This held especially true when, about halfway through the set, Trivium broke into their first-ever single, “Like Light to Flies.” Like the song suggests, the crowd pushed as close as the barriers would allow. A welcome accent to their performance: Nearing the end of their set, Trivium invited members from the other bands on stage to help perform a cover of “Four Horsemen” by Metallica before doing a (predictable) faux-exit-then-encore.
As In Flames’ crew prepared the stage to a soundtrack of ambient distortion, the crowd grew to fever-pitch. A hive decision had been made at this point: fire-code enforcement be damned! The dual-leveled venue seemingly grew smaller as people leaned over stair rails and clustered in the center of the floor, and the unmistakable musk of a metal show mixed with the stage fog.
Finally, In Flames was taking the stage, their beards in
full, Nordic flavor. The beginning
notes of their 10th album’s title track, “Sounds of a Playground Fading,” came
softly through the sound system, and everyone in attendance knew what was next:
the abrupt, heavy and epic guitar lines that infuse the Swedish band’s music.
The crowd began its hour-and-a-half-long revelry amidst a barrage of the unique
blend of melodic death metal. The
first few songs were all from their latest album and whet the appetite of the
audience for the older, more familiar fare. As primary-colored lighting
ensconced the band, a constant sea of hands outstretched towards sky and stage,
some longingly searching for a fistful of beard. Fan favorites like “Cloud
Connected," “Come Clarity” and “The Mirror's Truth” peppered the set list and
kept everyone energized. The still-riled crowd screamed, chanted and
fist-pumped until the finale of brutality, “Take This Life,” appropriately
ended the show.
After good-nights, pick-throwing and thank-yous, the band exited the stage, leaving the crowd in a noticeably drained state. Only a metal show will you leave in post-coitus-like exhaustion and satisfaction. Metal fans, I suppose, wouldn’t have it any other way.