Gig line-up: Triaxis, Metaprism, Silent Divide, Powderhead
Venue: The Portland Arms, Cambridge
Date: 23 January 2016
**all other photographs courtesy of Neil Garratt**
It has been a long time since I went to a gig. Too long, in fact. However, it is the reality for a chap that has two small children and a dwindling amount of free time on his hands. It has to be something special to get me to absolve myself of fatherly duties these days and so that alone should speak volumes of the high regard in which I hold UK metallers Triaxis. It was a decision made all the more justified with news reaching us just days before the show that founding members CJ (guitar) and Giles (drums) are to take a break from the band at the end of March, meaning that this was one of the last chances to see the line-up that recorded the magnificent third album, ‘Zero Hour’ (2015).
All of this meant that I left my partner with minimal guilt as I travelled the 40 miles west to Cambridge and more specifically, The Portland Arms, for a night of heavy metal indulgence.
Before this evening, I had never been to the venue at The Portland Arms before and I must admit to being quite impressed. Housed at the rear of a normal urban pub nestled a small but perfectly formed bespoke live music venue, complete with sound desk and integral bar. The Portland Arms should be proud of their facilities and even more so once the live music began, thanks to a properly decent sound throughout.
The first of four bands to take the stage was Powderhead, a local, Cambridge-based classic rock band. Formed less than a year ago, the musical output was a little raw and in need of a little honing. However, the quintet had something about them to suggest that they might have a positive future ahead of them.
Next up was Silent Divide and with them came a discernible increase in the quality, a trend that continued throughout the evening. Led by the veritable ball of energy that is Marianne ‘M’ Rose, I found myself rather admiring the Essex-based band’s set. Their particular brand of alt-rock meets metalcore isn’t normally my thing, but it was played with passion, conviction and commendable precision. I wouldn’t mind catching Silent Divide live again.
As the members of Metaprism made their way down a flight of stairs at the back of the venue, you couldn’t fail to notice the sheer size of this band. Put it this way, you’d not mess with any of them in a darkened alley of an evening. Fortunately for my integrity and for my health, the dual vocal (male and female combo) modern melodic metal sextet Metaprism put on a really enjoyable show and they won me over nicely. It’s not often you see a singer performing in the middle of a mosh pit and, coupled with some hilariously dreadful inter-song banter (‘I’ve got nothing…anyone got any jokes?’) the Bournemouth metallers ended up being a bit of a hit with me.
As good as the support acts were, I was here primarily for Triaxis. Therefore, when they hit the stage, I will admit to a fair amount of excitement on my part. I’d heard good things about the Welsh-based quintet but the reality was even better. Here is a band that’s at the very top of their game and the performance underlined this point perfectly.
Triaxis opened with a barnstorming rendition of ‘Liberty’ and, after a quick tweak by the sound engineer, the song came through loud and clear. Performed with precision all round, plenty of explosive energy and a genuine sense of enjoyment, the end result was infectious and exhilarating. Not even a few technical difficulties could dampen the spirits or performance of the classic-meets-thrash metal five-piece. In fact, if anything, the mic problems and backing track glitches simply added to the sense of fun and served as welcome banter fodder for the irrepressible lead vocalist Krissie Kirby. The innuendo created by a simple mic cord was hilarious and her ‘diva’ comments had the crowd eating out of her hands.
Importantly, for all the fripperies, it was the music and the way in which it was performed that delighted me the most. ‘Blood Red Skies’ was a personal highlight, as was the impossibly brilliant ‘Black Trinity’, the latter remaining lodged in my head for the entire journey home, along with a comforting post-gig ringing in the ears. The set also included the likes of ‘Victorious’, ‘Death Machine’ and ‘Stand Your Ground’ as well as ‘Dying Sun’ and the emotional ‘Lest We Forget’, performed only for the second time on stage.
On this showing, it seems strange that CJ and Giles have decided to take a break; both of them put in top performances and, in the case of CJ, the entire show was played with a smile on her face. Bassist Becky Baldwin never stood still and lead guitarist Glyn impressed with some lightning fast and razor sharp lead breaks.
To be honest, each member put in great performances and the hour-long set flew by to the point where I couldn’t believe that it was all over. Regardless of what happens with Triaxis from here on in (and they should be destined for greatness by the way), I am pleased to have witnessed a live show with their elite line-up intact. In Triaxis, the UK have a very special band indeed that are worthy of all the plaudits heading their way. What a fun night.