Tim Lambesis is fucking terrifying. With the upper body of an upturned, heavily tattooed pyramid and a lower jaw dense with hair, he looks like an absolute monster as he leers over the Belgian crowd. As I Lay Dying [3/5] have just taken to the stage, exploding into a particularly ferocious rendition of the frantic ‘Condemned’. They are a blur of macho muscle, matched only by the newfound muscularity that these songs acquire in a live context; they could quite easily bear the weight of mammoths.
With a balanced set that draws equally on each of their albums (with the exception of 2001’s Beneath the Encasing of Ashes), the Californian quintet offer a little something for everyone without sounding like the musical equivalent of a patchwork quilt. It is, of course, the classic songs – ’94 Hours’, ‘Confined’ – that provoke the biggest reactions from the crowd but it’s the newer material that sounds strongest. The frenetic ‘Cauterize’ is utterly devastating, while ‘A Greater Foundation’ demonstrates its potential to become the band’s first true anthem with its gang vocal chorus and pounding rhythm section.
Unfortunately the lead guitar is all but eclipsed by the muscularity of said rhythm section throughout and, possibly due to time constraints, one can’t shake the feeling that this is a band going through the motions. Far more compelling are Trivium [4/5].
Opening with the simple yet oh so powerful staccato notes of ‘In Waves’, the first thing one notices is that Matt Heafy has trained his voice into a wholesome roar, as opposed to the anguished scream heard on record, adding an extra layer of weight to the compositions. His between-song banter reveals a natural charm as he not only makes the effort to speak to the crowd in French, but also in Dutch – a move which provokes an ecstatic cheer from the Flemish portion of the crowd.
Emitting a more dominant presence than on previous tours, Corey Beaulieu is ever more becoming the band’s co-frontman as he shares the vocals equally with Heafy, taking the lead on ‘Ember to Inferno’. With a clear mix and a greater level of playing proficiency, they sound better than ever, the crowd going several shades of mental as they march through the likes of ‘Rain’ and ‘Down From the Sky’. Rather surprisingly, it’s ‘Entrance of the Conflagration’ from 2006’s polarising The Crusade that provokes the biggest reaction of the evening, managing to sound much more energetic than the rest of the material.
One of Trivium’s greatest strengths has always been the interplay of their lead guitars and tonight they cut through the din exquisitely. In the past this has been one of the downfalls of their live show, but years of touring has finally enabled them to hone their accuracy, making the instrumental sections a pleasure to listen to. By the time ‘Throes of Perdition’ comes crashing down, Ancienne Belgique looks like an absolute warzone, littered with bodies. Job done.
As I Lay Dying
A Greater Foundation
The Sound of Truth
Like Light to the Flies
Into the Mouth of Hell We March
Down From the Sky
Entrance of the Conflagration
Watch the World Burn
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Ember to Inferno
Built to Fall
Dying in Your Arms
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis
Throes of Perdition