The venue is still filling when Swedish four-piece Orbit Culture takes to stage but there are plenty of cheers and it isn’t long before the band are encompassed fence-like within the blasts of four striking geysers of vertical smoke and blood-red lights that work to capture everyone’s gaze. These blasts continue throughout the set, the fog aided in its dispersal by the rapid helicopter head-banging of the players. Singer Niklas Karlsson hurls impressive vocals from under a thick mop of hair, cutting through the Industrial Groove Metal and dazzling double kick drumming that these guys are ruthlessly churning out. This adds several other elements to the music moving from what feels like gruff staccato-style chanting to a more melodic Death Metal. The band make sure to check in with the crowd frequently – they’ve travelled a fair way with this only their second time playing Bristol – and take all opportunities possible to interact with their fans, making every effort to move about the stage to share their individual talents in each direction. The third song ‘From The Inside’ has a scattering of synth feel and more melody to the chorus but it isn’t long before all hell is unleashed on that drum kit again. The crowd are awake and absorbed for the duration of the set, engaging in requests for horns, noise and even a small circle pit and the band thanks Bristol for a warm welcome. The final song ‘Vulture of North’ arrives all too soon and sees BFW vocalist Scott Kennedy jumping on stage to guest on a verse. There’s a final request before the end of the song from NK for the crowd to “Open this place up!” – this band does seem to like to chop their live songs up and serve them in slices – and in return, the floor sees its first ‘wall of death’ of the night. Orbit Culture has delivered a super-sizzling start to the evening.
There is a pause in the walk-on track for Glaswegian band Bleed From Within which hints that something with the venue sound isn’t quite ready and after finally tearing onto stage and breaking straight in, the band are barely through their first verse when the power gives-in on them again. This doesn’t stop them though, singer Scott Kennedy merely gives the sound desk a quick thumbs down, it’s swiftly sorted and the band ploughs on. “Bristol! Now you can hear us, are we good?” he enquires with a smile and the crowd holds nothing back in letting him know they’re more than ready. The first three songs of the set are from the 2022 ‘Shrine’ album (five of the seven are, with the other two coming from 2020’s ‘Fracture’.) SK instructs everyone to sing along to ‘Levitate’ if they know it and the ram-packed crowd’s collective singing gets louder with every chorus. A brief survey of who has seen the band play live before reveals that this is the first time for many and they are very clearly having a ball, jumping, head banging and moving about on what little available floor space they can find whilst making several attempts at a wall of death despite the growing feeling of standing-room-only in the venue as ever more sweaty bodies jostle their way towards the pit. Bleed From Within are every bit as active, crouching and dashing about the stage, storming through their Metal-powered set and unmistakably gaining more fans with every minute. The fun that this band has on stage is contagious and evident in every beat, stonking guitar solo, breakdown, riff and vocal harmony. There is also a heavy dose of witty Scottish banter thrown in amongst the many ‘safety chats’ about the pit-etiquette of looking out for one another which occurs between songs. As SK dives into the welcoming crowd to deliver part of final song ‘The End of all We Know’ the crowd’s energy, enthusiasm and thirst for more is soaring high and rightly so.
Golden dragons four feet tall with glaring red eyes bookend the territory aptly as Trivium burst onto stage and waste no time stoking the furnace with first song ‘In The Court Of The Dragon.’ “You all know this one and you know what needs to be done” exclaims singer Matt Heafy, signalling yet another wall of death before the band immediately break into ‘Down From The Sky’ to another riot of raised horns, fists and fierce singing from the crowd. The venue is taking on the atmosphere of a bustling sports stadium except everyone here is rallying for the same team and the set content for this ‘Goblins & Wizards’ tour feels like experiencing a D&D game from the inside. The band are pulling punches from many albums but not all of their back catalogue with perhaps the largest handful coming from 2008’s ‘Shogun’, well it is the album’s 15 year anniversary after all. Everything this band is performing is incredibly tight, well executed and sweeping the crowd into the further frenzy of music-magic being created onstage. There are impressive bass and guitar solos and some magnificent accented vocals and growls from Paolo Gregoletto and Corey Beaulieu. Alex Bent shells out a torrent of drums that boost the energetic impact of every song and MH seems to possess the ability to conduct the audience with his exaggerated facial expressions alone (whilst still hitting his vocal and guitar duties with ease.)
The energy that this band brings with their music is insane. It’s a showcase for Trivium proving their 20 yrs on the scene warranted. The rapport between band and fans is captivating to witness and it’s somewhat a shame that the venue is so stacked to its limits as the clearly eager circle pit doesn’t get a proper chance to rotate despite the seemingly endless lubrications of the bands own rider of water bottles being passed out amongst the sweltering masses. “It’s getting dangerously hot in here” comments MH just over halfway through, whilst praising the pit-goers for being absolute troopers and telling the crowd to applaud themselves for enduring the heat. More recent song ‘The Sin And The Sentence’ gains the most surfers and some truly heartfelt singing along and this continues on into ‘Like Callisto To A Star In Heaven’ and also ‘The Heart From Your Hate’ which sees some of the surfing replaced by breakneck bouncing at the choruses. There’s a chance for all to catch their breath when MH gives a longer speech to thank the crowd for attending what has been “a very hot farewell” and announces that the band will be taking a long break after this tour but it won’t be forever. He hints that 2025 is the 20th Anniversary of 2005’s ‘Ascendency’ album and the band launch into ‘A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation’ perhaps this is a teaser of the next time we’ll see them? It certainly encourages everyone to scrape whatever energy reserves they have left to join the crouching and jumping as requested for the encore of ‘In Waves.’