Melodic metal stopped off in Seattle for a night of anthem laced, fist pumping, hand waving fun. The show: In Flames, Trivium, Veil of Maya and KYNG, rocked the Showbox SoDo and set the tone for a great weekend. Here is my review of each band and their set.
In Flames– In Flames was every bit as good as expected. They delivered a solid set list at the kind of level expected by a group that’s been doing it for over 20 years. Lead singer Anders Friden still kills every song with his signature, and unbelievably amazing, vocal style. He easily lived up to the hype, delivering on his songs with the power and authority just as well as he does on the recorded material. They played a good variety of songs, spanning a large part of their discography, with skill and professionalism.
Speaking of those older songs, it was interesting to hear them played by this ‘new look’ In Flames. It’s clear that the band is built to play the newer material. It’s where they really shine. Without the practice of non-stop harmonized lead guitars the older songs, while still good, sounded a bit hollow. Nevertheless, In Flames hit Seattle with intensity and put on a great show.
That said, there was a glaring issue with In Flames set. The band’s sound crew really dropped the ball. The volume on the vocals was far too low. Sadly, it limited the ability to clearly and easily hear all that frontman Anders was offering. And as a whole, the volume of the entire band was just not up to par. I’ve never been to a show where the opening bands were louder than the main act. The band still managed to deliver, but it was in spite of these flaws.
Trivium– Somewhere along the way, young upstart band Trivium grew into a savvy, veteran band that has mastered all the tricks of the trade. They have a polished stage presence and the professionalism of 20 year veterans. Their arrival on stage signaled a step up in both technical skill and showmanship. Their melodic thrash metal style aptly transitioned the show from Veil of Maya to its finale of In Flames perfectly.
One of the things I appreciated the most about Trivium was their attitude towards the audience. While using his skills to coax the most out of the crowd, lead singer Matt Heafy was acutely aware of their needs, participation and their safety. From his ‘1 Rule’ speech, saying in essence “We only have one simple rule. Enjoy yourself. We don’t care if you how you do it. Dance, sing, jump, whatever… as long as it’s safe” to his acknowledgement of the people being crushed against the railing in the front, Heafy’s desire for the audience to have a great time seemed quite genuine. For that, he has my utmost respect. My favorite quote from the night was spoken just before Trivium was about to play one of their most popular songs “If you know it… scream it at the top of your lungs! If not, just make up some words!”
Though Trivium’s music may have evolved from their thrash roots and become a little too “pretty” at times, there is definitely no denying their ability, following and place among the other big name melodic metal bands.
Veil of Maya– This technical deathcore unit had some inspired moments, but as a whole they failed to impress. Meshuggah is one of Â the best technical, heavy metal bands of our time. As such, they have inspired countless bands. One of those bands is Veil of Maya. But, like every other band who has attempted to hold high the Meshuggah torch, Veil of Maya fell short of that musical mark. Bands just need to learn thereÂ is only one Meshuggah, and not set themselves down the road of failure by trying to emulate them.Â Also, the vocal stylings of singer Brandon Butler were fresh and gripping a decade ago, but nowadays they come off both a bit forced and rather stale.
Be that as it may, VoM still managed some high points. ‘Unbreakable’ was easily their best song of the night. It had a fullness of sound and backbone to it that stirred the blood. It showed just how good VoM could be. Also, the newer songs they played (from the upcoming album Eclipse) showed growth and the potential of this band.
KYNG– In my review, I wrote “They have a soulful, stoner-metal-groove-meets-Soundgarden kind of sound. I\’m very much looking forward to seeing them live.” I am happy to say that the California trio delivered! I’d also like to say that my “stoner-metal-groove-meets-Soundgarden kind of sound” was amazingly accurate. Hey… I get lucky once in a while. Though I’d like to adjust that description a bit. KYNG’s sound is what results when Kyuss and Soundgarden have a rock and roll baby.
Lead singer and guitarist Eddie Veliz has an absolutely fantastic voice. I’d favorably compare him to the likes of Chris Cornell and maybe even a little Robert Plant-ish. Yes, I did just give him the Robert Plant nod. Go hear him live before you throw me under the bus for it.
KYNG’s sound straddles the hard rock and metal genres. They had a nice driving beat and a wonderful soulfulness to their songs. KYNG’s drummer Pepe Clarke creates a wonderful wall of sound over which bassist Tony Castaneda layered in his rhythm. Not every song was a masterpiece, but as a whole KYNG delivered a powerful and heartfelt performance.
All in all, it was a great night of musical experience. If you were smart enough to be there, your life is a little richer for it. To check out what else the Showbox has to offer Seattle, check out theirÂ calendar here.