Written by Alex Stojanovic
TRIVIUM (DEAD MEN & DRAGONS TOUR 2022)
w/ Between The Buried & Me / Whitechapel / Khemmis
Toronto, ON, Canada
October 25, 2022
Presented by Inertia Entertainment
The fall season is back in full force after two years of silence, and Toronto has already seen a bunch of great tours come through so far. One of the several tours that came through was Trivium's Dead Men & Dragons Tour. The juggernaut tour hit Rebel on October 25th less than a week before Halloween. This marks the first Trivium made more than one stop to Toronto in an entire decade, as they were here back in the spring as part of the Metal Tour Of The Year with Megadeth, Lamb Of God and In Flames (see our review here). Trivium are currently making up for a lot of lost touring opportunities due to the pandemic by touring behind In The Court Of The Dragon and What The Dead Men Say, and having just come off a tour supporting Iron Maiden, they wasted no time and jumped straight into their own headline tour with special guests Between The Buried & Me, Whitechapel and Khemmis.
Kicking off the night were Khemmis. This was one of the bands whose name I was familiar with, but never got around to hearing their stuff ahead of time. In my opinion, they were the best of all the openers on this bill. Why? Well, their sound seemed like a mix of classic heavy metal, doom and thrash. Plus, being the big fan of harmonies that I am, the guitar harmonies were a really nice touch to their music. Clean and harsh vocal duties were split between Phil Pendergast and Ben Hutcherson with Ben handling harsh vocals and Phil handling cleans.
Up next was Whitechapel, who I only saw that one time on Into The Mouth Of Hell We Tour, so it's amazing that they're still around to this day. Now I'm not a deathcore fan, but Whitechapel is in my opinion the best of all the deathcore bands. Their short setlist was 90% songs off their last two records: The Valley and Kin, with the only classic song being "This Is Exile", which is the only song in the setlist that I was familiar with. Compared to the last time I saw Whitechapel, it felt like I was watching a completely different band, because their newer material goes in more of a prog direction, and Phil Bozeman was incorporating a lot more clean vocals. It added more dynamics into their sound instead of being reduntant with the same formula over and over again.
Taking the stage next was Between The Buried & Me, another band whose name I was very familiar with, but never listened to, although I knew they were in the prog realms. While impressive musicians, I found them to be a little too self-indulgent in their music, because there was so much stuff going on with rapid changes in styles, time signatures, as well as transitions that didn't make any sense whatsoever. Don't get me wrong, I love prog metal and odd time signatures, but when the changes are happening at such a fast pace where it gets hard to keep up, then it's a bit much. Their songs felt like they were trying to stuff 40 lbs of stuff into a 5-lbs bag. To put things into perspective, they played for 40 minutes, and their set consisted of only 5 songs, so that pretty much says all you need to know. In one song in particular, I heard reggaeton and samba influences within the span of 1.5 minutes. A notable visual was that rhythm guitarist Dustie Waring stood stoically in one spot the entire time, carrying the vibe like he was forced to be in the situation he was in, while the rest of the band were at least moving around and grooving.
Finally, finishing off the night was Trivium. Continuing with the tradition, "Run To The Hills" warmed the crowd up before they entered the stage and kicked their set off with "IX" and "What The Dead Men Say". Obviously with the more albums you put out, the harder in becomes to make a setlist, so for Trivium now having 10 records out, this setlist seemed like a nightmare to put together. However, the high-schooler and college student in me was incredibly happy to hear Ascendancy classics like "A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation" and "Like Light To The Flies", and since I'm in the underground group of fans that loves The Crusade, it goes without saying that hearing "To The Rats" was an unexpected extra special treat, because hearing that song took me right back to my early high school days in 2006-2007. At the same time, Shogun was also huge for me during my latter high school years, and I think it's their best album, so I was really excited to hear "Into The Mouth Of Hell We March", which I haven't heard them play live since the 2009 tour, but a huge moment for all us fans, regardless of era, was hearing the band play "Shogun". I had the opportunity to hear them play the song live back in 2013 on the Vengeance Falls Tour, so I was really pleased that they were resurrecting it for this tour. One other nice deep cut surprise in the set came from In Waves, and that was "Chaos Reigns". Of course, we were also treated to songs from the Alex Bent era, like "The Sin & The Sentence", "The Heart From Your Hate", "Amongst The Shadows & The Stones", "In The Court Of The Dragon" and "The Shadow Of The Abattoir, all of which the fans ate up before arriving at the signature show closer of "In Waves".
For those of us that have seen Trivium multiple times, we know how Matt Heafy likes to put a competition between cities for crowd participation. Obviously a band always wants an active crowd, but I think Matt likes to over-emphasize his encouragement and hype-ups. I will say it has gotten kind of cheesy at this point. However, he always shows his love and appreciation for the Toronto fans by sharing stories from their earliest days of playing in the city with no one knowing who the band was to what they've built with their Toronto fans in the present day.There was even a point where the band stopped mid-way through "In The Court Of The Dragon" so Matt could break up a fight that was happening in the pit.
Now selfishly, I wish that they would've had maybe two opening acts as opposed to three, because 13 songs for a headline set is pretty short if you ask me, even if they did play for a standard 1.5 hours. I'm waiting for the time when Trivium can do a full 16-17 song headliner in Toronto, because they've yet to play a set with that many songs in Toronto. If I could've maybe requested a few other songs to be added into the set, I would've wished for "Kirisute Gomen", "A Crisis Of Revelation", "Sever The Hand", "Entrance Of The Conflagration" and maybe even "Caustic Are The Ties That Bind", but hey, that's just the fan in me talking. What is also worth noting is that Rebel always had an 11:00 curfew for live acts, but Trivium may have just been (at least to my knowledge), the first band that blew past the 11:00 mark by an extra 0.5 hr. It was quite interesting. Overall, this may have been one of the best Trivium shows I've seen mainly due to how well they played, and the overall setlist.