With tonight’s ‘Defenders of the Faith’ show boasting four great metal bands on the bill, the timing is tight, meaning 3 Inches of Blood are hitting the stage as the doors open. As the crowd run in, the band’s cries of ‘Get your asses in here’ are quickly obeyed as the room rapidly fills with eager metal fans ready to get the carnage underway. The Canadians’ power metal gives the crowd the chance to do just that, their thundering riffs and Rob Halford style high pitched vocals reminding of the fact that the tour is named after a Judas Priest album. 3 Inches of Blood may have been accused of being a parody metal band in the past, but tonight they are deadly serious, taking advantage of every second of their 25 minute set to ensure they leave their mark.
Next up are California’s Devildriver, who waste no time diving into the brutal ‘Not All Who Wander Are Lost’, prompting the massive circle pits which are now expected from their fans. The assault of rapid fire drumming and thrashing guitars is relentless throughout ‘Horn of Betrayal’ and ‘Clouds Over California’, the energy both onstage and in the pit matching their fast and furious style. Again, the set lasts less than half an hour, but that’s easily enough for them to make themselves known as an important part of today’s metal scene, and no one is going to dare argue with Devildriver.
Co-headliners Arch Enemy storm onto the stage, Angela Gossow launching straight into ‘Blood On Your Hands’ with the guttural growls that she is so well known for. Technically the band are on top form, the guitar and drum solos showing off their skills, although there’s the feeling that the crowd would rather have more chance to kick each other’s heads in than stand and politely listen to solos. They soon get what they want as the band deliver ‘Nemesis’ with all the force and brutality they have, before ending the set with the crushing ‘We Will Rise’. Arch Enemy are clearly well loved by a massive amount of metal fans, however with the band’s fairly consistent sound and a lack of shifts in the vocals, those who prefer a little more variation may easily lose interest after a few songs.
When Opeth’s turn finally arrives, the Swedish progressive metal legends claim to be nervous, although the welcome they receive from the crowd shows they have no reason to be. With a catalogue of epic songs, many of which last well over ten minutes, they only fit seven of them, including the new offering, ‘Heir Apparent’ into their 70 minute set. Despite this, their music never becomes repetitive, the changing dynamics and inclusion of a variety of styles within their songs constantly providing something new. During the final song, ‘The Drapery Falls’, the crowd are caught off guard, unsure of whether to stand and sway or throw themselves into the nearest pit as the band switch between mellow acoustic guitar and crushing, growling metal. For those wearing the ‘Metal is my faith’ tour t-shirts as they leave the venue, their faith has definitely been justified tonight.
Review – Helen Catchpowle
Photos – Steve Gerrard