Helming the Happy Hour slot of a full festival day is an especially tall task, but Trivium proved more than capable of rallying the energy of a crowd that had already spent hours in the field at Knotfest Iowa.
Opting to immediately set the bar high for their set, the Floridian metal powerhouse went for the jugular by opening with their newest anthem in their turbo-charged epic, "In The Court of the Dragon." Unleashing an all out blitz of soaring, shredding guitars in combination, with frontman Matt Heafy's dynamic vocal command - the meld of melody and well-measured mayhem ignited the late afternoon crowd in a way that ensured no lull in a marathon day of metal.
Tasked with having to pack a powerful punch into a truncated time frame, Trivium managed to piece together a collection of songs that not only showcased their instrumental prowess but also underscored their enduring relevance. Contrasting current selections from What The Dead Men Say like "Catastrophist" and the 2020 album's title track with time-tested fans favorites like "Strife" and "The Heart From Your Hate" - the band subtly reiterated their longevity while stoking the flames of a set that built to an absolute inferno.
Capitalizing on an audience they had busted their ass onstage to dazzle - Trivium upped the ante by including their latest banger in "Feast of Fire". The concise, career-spanning collection of aggression emphasized the band's ongoing evolution of songwriters and their undeniable ability as players. Tallied another highlight in an already stellar day, Trivium punctuating their time with "In Waves", the essential track worked as an effective crescendo that Ince again proved that when Trivium takes the stage - they never phone it in.
Continuing what ultimately served as the masterclass portion of the day's festivities, French metal titans Gojira delivered nearly a full hour assault that rumbled with a sustaining thud no doubt felt in the furtherest corners of the Knotfest field. The tandem of vocalist/guitarist Joe Duplantier and his brother in drummer extraordinaire Mario, were relentless with a colossal wall of sound that hit with the kind of force that compelled the audience to collect their breath if ever there was a pause in the action.
Though there would be few of those instances though, as the band skipped the stage banter in between elections and maximized their stage time to keep the pummeling pace of their set consistent throughout. Opening with the sort of mission statement track from their recent Fortitude effort, "Born For One Thing" boomed in a way that seemed to leave fans stunned from the kind of force of tune. Form there, Gojira welcomed Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe onto the stage for a rendition of "Backbone" that saw those signature dreadlocks in a full whip.
Though Mario kept the conversation to a minimal, he did recall how Gojira was one of the bands that joined Slipknot for their historic 2019 appearance at the Iowa State Fair. Sharing that it was great to be back in Iowa given the band's track record, Gojira then treated some of their longest-supporting fans to a live rendition of one of their most enduring track with "Love" from their debut Terra Incognita record. In fact, Gojira did an incredible job of curating the kind of set list that offered a healthy representation of their entire two-decade long catalog, with tunes spanning from The Way of All Flesh, L'Enfant Sauvage, the breakout Magma, and their most current collection in Fortitude - with each cut striking with unparalleled knockout power.