Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Acts: In Flames, Trivium, Veil of Maya, Kyng
Venue: The Sound Academy, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
As everyone knows, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. So naturally, I decided to spend my day at a heavy metal concert with a male friend to get in the “Anti-Valentine’s Day” spirit. I’ve seen many shows at The Sound Academy in Toronto, but not very many have been like this. As can be expected, there was an overwhelming amount of huge, sweaty, lonely guys spending their Valentine’s Day at a metal show. Every once in a while I stumbled into the odd couple or the group of goth girls who couldn’t get a Valentine’s date. The show featured heavy metal giants In Flames, metal core band Trivium, death core band Veil of Maya and rounding out the list was hard rock/borderline metal band Kyng. First of all, the band list alone can tell anyone involved in the heavy metal scene the direction that In Flames is taking the band.
Throughout the bands history, In Flames has been known as a melodic death metal band influenced by acts like Megadeth and on par with someone like Children of Bodom. In fact, the first time I saw In Flames was during Megadeth’s Gigantour in 2008 alongside Children of Bodom, High On Fire and Job For A Cowboy. I clearly remember heavy metal diehards being enraged over the fact that Job For A Cowboy, a death core band, was there alongside melodic death metal bands, In Flames and Bodom and a heavy metal giant and pioneer in Megadeth. Now keep in mind that Job For A Cowboy and Veil of Maya have something in common. They are both death core bands. For heavy metal purists, death core and metal core bands like Trivium are pretty much considered to blasphemous and a disgrace to the metal genre. The insistent growling and “pig squeals” the singers make, the shortened guitar riffs, the lack of solos and constant double bass drumming to most intense metal heads is considered to be “sissy metal” and not on par with bands like Megadeth or Iron Maiden or Slayer. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but I happen to like Trivium quite a bit as they are one of the bands that got me into harder rock and metal. Anyways, the fact that In Flames decided to tour with these two bands alongside Kyng, a lesser known band that is barely even considered to be metal and has more in common with the Foo Fighters than Megadeth, was disappointing to a lot of older fans. To me, this was not surprising considering the direction that In Flames has taken in their last two albums, “A Sense of Purpose” and “Sounds of a Playground Fading.” I would not classify these two albums as their old melodic death metal roots, but more as alternative metal, leaning towards the alternative rock, post-grunge sort of style reminiscent of Alice In Chains or Soundgarden. This came as a shock to older In Flames fans who grew up listening to albums like “Colony” or Clayman” which are quite heavy albums. Record sales have gone down for the band as they continue to lose some of their original fans. This is why they brought a band like Trivium on tour with them.
Trivium is known for being aimed at the high school guy who is just getting into harder music. Also, Trivium is famously headlined by a Japanese-American, Matt Heafy. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but is actually quite significant. As more and more Asians (such as myself) grow up in North America, the more likely they are to get involved with North American style music, metal being one of these genres. Having an Asian frontman is huge as Asian kids will flock to the band, reminding them of classic J-Rock acts like Miyavi and also providing them with a role model and someone to look up to. Culturally, it’s a pretty big deal. So by bringing Trivium on board, In Flames is clearly trying to engage some Trivium fans and use them to replace their departing old fans.
Now, on to the actual concert itself. The Sound Academy is a fairly small venue, with a capacity of a couple of thousand people and only standing room. A little different than the standard Air Canada Centre rock show. Now, with the venue being standing room only, things are naturally going to get crowded and a little rough. I wasn’t around for Kyng, I didn’t like their sound so I spent my time at the merch booth and the bar trying to ignore their sound and I am not a fan of Veil of Maya due to the lead singer’s voice so I tried to ignore their set as well so I cannot fairly judge their music and the crowd since I am not a fan of them. However, during Trivium, the younger, rougher fans of the band all decided to start mosh pits and crowd surf and push their way towards the front. I’m all for moshing and crowd surfing and having a good time, I partake in it myself, but during Trivium things were getting a little out of hand. There is a standard mosh etiquette, if someone falls pick them up, no kicking while crowd surfing, no elbows, no pushing or hitting people who don’t want to get involved and always leave some space for people who don’t want to partake in such activities. These rules were all ignored during Trivium’s set. I personally got kicked in the head three times, had two people dropped on me and got head butted in the face by one kid, about 17 years old. People were getting trampled, the crowd was one big mosh pit, the people at the very front were getting crushed and there was no room for people to just stand and enjoy the show without getting pushed around or punched in the jaw. It was complete mayhem, people were getting hurt and scared and I will give full credit to the band for trying to control the crowd. At least three times during the show, Trivium actually stopped the show and reminded the crowd to be safe, not to hurt people and to watch out for women, children and smaller members of the audience. I admire those actions and I think it really spoke about the bands character and their want for all their fans to have a good time. Once I escaped the massive pit, I managed to plop down on a bar stool and regain my breath while waiting for In Flames to hit the stage.
The crowd during In Flames was much tamer as the younger, more naturally violent teenage Trivium fans all went to the back, or to the bar, or outside to have a smoke and couldn’t get back to their previous spot. In Flames opened with the title track from their new album, “Sounds of a Playground Fading,” and I must say, they are great perfumers, very active on stage, engaging the crowd, stopping to talk to the crowd and promote their struggling new album. They seem like a great group of guys, very friendly to all the fans, but where clearly heavily pushing the new album, which I expected but still found disappointing. I like the bands new content, but I am a big fan of their old albums particularly the album “Colony.” Not a single song was played from that album, which I found to be heavily disappointing since my two favourite In Flames songs, “Embody The Invisible” and “Ordinary Story” are from that album and I was hoping to hear them. I do understand why the band decided to play mostly new stuff though, they can’t play their old songs forever, they want to create new content, gain new fans, go in a different musical direction and promote their new albums. I get that, and I respect that, but the inner old In Flames fan in me was still disappointed. Overall though, the band really does put on a great show, very energetic, very enthusiastic, very engaging, and quite enjoyable. The addition of Trivium I really enjoyed since I am a fan of them, but I can honestly say I was quite bored during Kyng and Veil of Maya. Four bands is a lot for a show and I really thing only two or three were needed. If they toured with less bands, In Flames could even play some of their older stuff for their original fans. Regardless it was a good show, I would recommend seeing them, and if you are in the Toronto area check out Trivium on April 1st of this year. They’re playing with Asking Alexandria, once again at the Sound Academy. I know I’ll be there.
Review: 6.5/10 Stars