JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

December 10, 2013
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Mike DiQuinzio
Photos by Fabien Castro

Devildriver- DevilDriver, Trivium

Heavy Hitters Brutalizes The HOB

The House of Blues was host to one of the best double-headers of current metal heavyweights to come through Dallas, Texas in quite some time. The venue's superior sound system made DevilDriver and Trivium sound better than they have on any of their previous tours as each delivered a pulverizing set in support of two of this year's best releases, Winter Kills and Vengeance Falls, respectively.

DevilDriver took the stage first as the opening track to "End of the Line" got the crowd ready for what was about to happen: the opening of the most brutal pit I think I have seen all year. Dez Fafara is a frontman who demands as much energy from the crowd as he gives from the stage, and the crowd at his feet was all-too-happy to oblige. The opening three-in-a-row of songs from 2005's The Fury of Our Maker's Hand, which also included "Hold Back the Day" and "Before the Hangman's Noose" made this request an easy one. The band then unleashed "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" from what is routinely cited as their best recording, 2007's The Last Kind Words, to thunderous approval from the now-sweaty crowd. It had become clear by this point in the show that Dez had the ecstatic crowd in the palm of his hand.

Considering the brutal weather that Dallas had just experienced, their tour in support of an album called Winter Kills was eerily appropriate. Album opener "Oath of the Abyss" was the first live offering, followed by "The Appetite," "Ruthless," and their now-infamous cover of AWOLNATION's "Sail". Every review of Winter Kills praises this song because, much like Beast's "Black Soul Choir," it is a left-field cover choice for a band like DevilDriver. As Dez explained though, the fun lies in the songs outside of their genre.

DevilDriver managed to raise the energy level even more by playing "Head on to Heartache," "Dead to Rights," and "Clouds Over California" before ending with "Meet the Wretched" from their 2003 debut. It was at this time that I realized that DevilDriver has been a band for ten years now and this set showed how deserving they are to stand alongside bands like Lamb of God as the current kings of metal. Although this was by far the best DevilDriver has sounded in all the times I have seen them, with the entire band playing as tightly as possible, my only complaint was their omission of anything from 2007's Pray for Villains album. However, having too much quality material for one show is never a bad thing and it definitely left me wanting more.

Trivium hit the stage earlier than anticipated, judging by the half-empty floor and mad rush of fans from the bar. Opening with "Throes of Perdition" and the excellent "Down from the Sky," both from 2008's Shogun, it was obvious that the twin guitar shred of Matt Heafy and Cory Beaulieu benefitted greatly from the clarity of the HOB's sound system. Every note was crystal clear in every song and every solo. Already, this was shaping up to be Trivium's best live show in Dallas.

The band played album-opener "Brave this Storm" and lead single "Strife" to promote their excellent Vengeance Falls album before treating everyone to one of their best-loved songs, "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation," which got the pit moving in full-force. The band then introduced the song "Shogun," which I had never seen them play live before. This epic was a show-stopping moment in every sense of the phrase with its stellar arrangement and jaw-dropping execution. This song demanded the audience's attention and deserves to remain in their set list for many years to come.

After a brief exit from the stage, the recorded intro to "In Waves" began to stir the crowd even more before the band returned to deliver the crushing song. The set was then brought to a close with "Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr" from 2005's breakthrough Ascendancy album, which vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy recorded when he was still a teenager.

With that in mind, this set really showed how much Trivium has matured since their beginning. Their writing, playing, and stage presence have all improved exponentially since then, making Trivium one of the most exciting bands out there today.

If you missed this show, you missed a milestone. Both of these bands deserve your attention and so do their new CDs. DevilDriver's Winter Kills is out now on Napalm Records and Trivium's Vengeance Falls is out now on RoadRunner. Pick them up now and support these two amazing bands!