In the midst of the drifting and swirling snow flurries in the mountains of Asheville, N.C. a metal show of truly epic proportions was preparing to take place. On Wednesday, November 27, The Orange Peel played host to Trivium, DevilDriver, After The Burial and Thy Will Be Done, to the delight and excitement of metal fans from across the Carolinas. Trivium was touring in support of their latest release, Vengeance Falls, and DevilDriver was working to promote their 2013 release Winter Kills. This tour is a metalhead’s dream come true, chock full of all the technical complexities and raw energy one can stomach.
Things opened up with Providence, RI metal misfits Thy Will Be Done (TWBD). These guys have a history of throwing down, and they were so good at it that they were hand picked by Metallica’s James Hetfield to play the 2012 Orion Music Festival. So, how do you follow up a high like that? You go on tour with not one but two metal giants! These guys ripped open The Orange Peel with a frenzied fury that ignited the crowd from the first song. Vocalist J. Costa barked and bellowed into the microphone with a ferocity that stirred up the center of the venue into a raucous circle pit, bodies swirling, circling and colliding into one another. TWBD’s sound showed some distinct Metallica influences in the thrashy and high speed delivery on much of the set. There was barely any time to catch your breath as the band rolled into song after song, like an avalanche of sound. Their set consisted of a slew of songs that kept the room moving, including tracks from their 2012 EP Temple. What was most impressive about TWBD’s performance was the transformation of Costa, who offstage is an incredibly humble and mild-mannered guy, but onstage turns ravenous and unassailable in the power of his performance. Really working the Clark Kent to Superman conversion, Costa’s aggression and fire under the rays of the stage lights is truly something to behold.
After the Burial (ATB) picked up where TWBD left off, keeping up the momentum of the evening. Hailing from the twin cities, these guys combine hardcore metal with progressive instrumentals that culminate in a rhythmic groove infused metalcore that makes you want to headbang and dance at the same time. Leaving no stone unturned, ATB made sure to cover every inch of the stage and worked hard to invoke the crowd to more movement. Their dedication and passion was evident in the way they played vigorously, all the while voicing their appreciation for the crowd. Frontman Anthony Notarmaso even went so far as to thank the crowd for their attendance and warm reception, stating they (ATB) felt fortunate to be able to do what they love for a living. Not only were they appreciative and energetic, they were also kind of funny in stating the name of one song as “Anti-Pattern, a.k.a., Yoga Pants” with a chuckle. Just as it had begun in TWBD’s set, more circle pits surfaced and aggression poured out of some in the horde like the perspiration that drenched their faces. The air was thick with body heat, the smell of concessions, beer and sweat as ATB’s set came to a close and the crowd began to prepare for what was next.
Groove metal masters DevilDriver made their way to the stage and thus began what would be a set not to miss. Opening in grandiose fashion with Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley” as their intro, the band made their way onto the stage to the swelling cheers and screams of excitement from the crowd. From there it became a nonstop, rollicking ride into “the best of DevilDriver” and then some. Led by vocalist Dez Fafara, the men of DD began their own sonic assault on the masses as they chopped and rolled their way through their set. Not wanting to isolate any fans, Fafara and company made sure to hit even the far reaching corners of the stage to get right at the voracious throng that clamored hungrily for their attention and affections. Guitarists Mike Spreitzer and Jeff Kendrick let loose an aural string symphonic that highlighted, and on some songs created, the groovy backbone to the tracks that DD diehards had come to know by heart. The newest addition to the mix, bassist Chris Towning, brought his own focused chord work and head banging barrage of depths to the table. Fafara worked the stage like an orchestra conductor, at time engaging and encouraging the crowd while still taking moments to connect with bandmates. Spending most of his time either grinning broadly or seeming to be resisting a smirk, it was apparent to all within sightline that Fafara was having the time of his life. Kendrick’s steely eyed concentration honed in on his axe, making sure not to miss a single note, hard-a**ed determination written all over his face. The same could be seen of drummer John Boecklin as he slammed the skins from his semi-illuminated riser at the back of the stage. Towning not only worked the front of the stage, but also took moments to visit Boecklin at the back of the stage, often standing dead-center of the stage on the mini-ramp just in front of the drum risers.
The men of DD poured themselves into their performance, playing through a sampling of songs from across their extensive catalogue including: “End Of The Line,” “The Appetite,” their cover of Awolnation’s “Sail,” “Clouds Over California,” and “Ruthless.” Of the cover song on the setlist, Fafara made sure to let the crowd know that they are a band with eclectic tastes and that the cover, “Sail,” was something that had caught their attention and they were really into. Moving almost as if dancing across the stage, Fafara really seemed to light up while performing the ethereal and eccentric cover song. At they were all drenched in sweat from head to toe, starting to flush and making the effort to chug water at every opportunity, but all still seemed content to soldier on, almost as if thriving off their exhaustion- a new motivator to finish on a high. Persevering past the onset of fatigue, DD delivered a grand performance that seemed to entice, enthrall and upsweep the entire venue, leaving the animated audience feeling both awestruck and gluttonous, begging for more.
With the advent of their latest record, Vengeance Falls, the once melodic, thrashy Trivium has ventured into more echoic and techno-touched territory with the assistance of Disturbed/Device frontman David Draiman. With their new sound and what many are calling their most daring album in years, the men of Trivium, led by Matt Heafy, have embarked on this tour with an arsenal of songs from their history as well fresh ammo from Vengeance that they were ready to unleash upon the anxious crowd. Like any good frontman, Heafy played the part of “master of ceremonies” as he sang, jumped and bounced onstage to amp up the audience. The guys made their way through a playlist consisting of an array of Trivium tunes both old and new including: “Down From The Sky,” “Brave This Storm,” “Strife,” “Shogun,” and “A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation.” As if taking on a life of their own, the guitars snarled, chewed and occasionally set fire to each track- most prominently in “Strife.” The percussion and bass provided via Nick Augusto and Paolo Gregoletto helped cultivate the underlying speed and nastiness that gives select songs the grime needed to have impact. The culmination of these elements helps make not only Trivium’s albums great, but really elevates the impact of their live show. Another thing that really stands out about Trivium is their dedication of keeping it fun and safe for fans at their shows. There were a few times throughout their set that the mosh pit threatened to get a little out of control and the band would lighten up on their playing or even stop playing for a second to make sure things calmed down reasonably. Despite the impassioned performance being served up by the men of Trivium, it was passion of another nature that had the crowd gaping momentarily as Heafy brought a fan onstage who then proposed to his girlfriend before the entire venue. She said yes. “Love at a Trivium show,” Heafy remarked with a sentimental smirk as the happy, newly engaged couple exited the stage to the excited cheers of the crowd.
Not missing a beat, the band continued on with their performance, leading ultimately to a personal favorite, “In Waves.” Unfortunately, it was here that the show hit a bit of a snag as midway through the song, guitarist Corey Beaulieu’s amp went out and his sound was suddenly absent from the song. A baffled, but not thrown, Heafy went on with his incendiary stringwork. Beaulieu and his guitar tech could be seen stage right working feverishly to get him back online before the conclusion of the song so as to not throw off the balance/delivery, but no single fix seemed to stick. After a minute or two of seeing this struggle, Heafy, still playing, just smirked, shook his head, looked over at a tech and said with a chuckle, “Just put me in both (monitors).” After concluding the song with only his own guitar, Heafy was rejoined by a triumphant, if not somewhat flustered, Beaulieu. Trivium ended their set on a high and without further incident on “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr,” finally catapulting the energy of the evening over the edge with the furious and frenzied fretwork paired with the rollicking drums and steady bass that comprises the body of the track.
This was not only a show for metal heads, but a show for music lovers and connoisseurs of all genres. The sonic fusion conveyed by the entire lineup was unlike much of what has inundated the metal scene lately. It is this commitment to innovation and attention to detail that separates Trivium and DevilDriver, specifically, from many of their peers and keeps them going strong where others have faltered. Delivering lightening fast riffs, complex melodies paired with brute force vocal dynamics, the cast of the “Vengeance Falls Tour” made The Orange Peel dance and those in attendance will never be the same. Easily one of the best tours of the year and there are still a few dates left on the US tour before they head overseas. So, find a date near you and immerse yourself in a musical montage that will leaving singing along long after you’ve left.
See below for the onsite interview with Jeff Kendrick of DevilDriver about the new album, the recording process and who inspired him to be the unstoppable force of strings he is today!