Five bands from across the world join forces to bring the third instalment of Metal Hammer‘s Defenders Of The Faith tour in full heavy metal mode. A nearly-full room in the Manchester Academy was locked and loaded for the battle.

Consisting of members Tommy Helmet [guitar/ vocals], Martin Rearview [guitar/backing vocals], John S. Hana [bass/backing vocals] and Truls Haugen [Drums], Norwegian outfit Insense was first on the agenda to entertain their Manchester audience. Insense began with the thunderously chilling ‘Death For Me, Death For You’ and headbanger ‘Welcome Whore,’ setting the mood on the right path with their metalcore, sometimes progressive, noises along with Tommy Helmet‘s blend of aggressive & tantalising harmonies. The momentum kept its pace of the going with the aggressive ‘Surviving Self Resentment’ with heads being thrown forward and loud cheers. Concluding their successful performance were the hostile ‘Burn In Beautiful Fire’ and punk-metal infused ‘Gasping For Air,’ it is no wonder that Manchester approved of their performance.

British quintet Rise To Remain has come such a long journey from being introduced when they supported metallers Five Finger Death Punch in 2009. With their newly healthy second opus “City Of Vultures,” this was the chance to take note from the lads as soon as walked on stage with their intro music. They whipped Manchester with the fast-paced ‘The Serpent’ and the circle pit friendly ‘This Day Is Mine’. The energy from both band and audience was palpable. It was as though Manchester was powered on full velocity with their thunderous metalcore noise. After kindly apologising to Manchester for the late entrance due to five separate technical difficulties, Rise To Remain quickly  exploded with their racy tracks ‘City Of Vultures’ and ‘Power Through Fear’. After a small but effective drum solo provide by Pat Lundy, the band completed their pleasing performance set with their anthems ‘Nothing Left’ and ‘Bridges Will Burn’ which instigated an angry pit and a jump into the crowd by the front man. Don’t be mistaken by Rise To Remain whose vocalist is the son of metal legend Bruce Dickonson. Austin’s versatile voice makes the sound of his fellow bandmates’ compromising contribution to their metalcore sounds by his team mates Ben Tovey [lead guitars/backing vocals], Joe Copcutt [bass], Pat Lundy [drums] and Will Homer [rhythm guitars] a great bunch of British lads representing British Metal.

A sense of apprehension fills the Manchester Academy almost immediately. It has come no surprise that the next band on the bill was about to grip their crowd with awe and wonder. Swedish occult metallers Ghost are a band not to be taken lightly. Fresh from their Download Festival performance and approved by big names of the metal community, they were set to intrigue the masses. Reminiscent to arriving at Sunday Mass late with their intro ‘Masked Ball,’ the hypnotising scent of incense from Papa Emeritus’ swinging incense burner and the slow walk provided by The Nameless Ghouls clad in monk outfits and their faces completely covered, ‘Con Clavi Con Dio’ haunts the spectators quickly and with instant results of rejoiced hands. Next was the equally enchanting ‘Elizabeth’ and chilling ‘Prime Mover’, which was incredible to see a band who are disguised as a cult to be praised and to entice a crowd who were uncomfortable towards their presence earlier on. The crowd was literally in silence to capture the many textures and visions of the stage with Ghost present. ‘Death Knell’ was as another eerie song that grabbed the crowd by its eyes and ears until their spooky concluding tracks ‘Stand By Him’ and their “last rite” ‘Ritual’ had the audience chanting the name and embracing the phantom group with claps and cheers to their dramatic performance.

In support of their new experimental album “Sounds Of A Playground Fading”, In Flames opened with elegant title song and the equally exciting ‘Deliver Us’. To hear Manchester sing every note and making every crack of the walls split even further before it even went further into the set. Smiles were all around with members Anders Fridén [lead vocals], Björn Gelotte [guitars], Niclas Engelin [guitars], Peter Iwers [bass] and Daniel Svensson [drums] after only two songs kicking off the blistering set. Along with the new track ‘All For Me’ that caused heads to bang and sway, ‘The Mirror’s Truth’ to ignite a circlepit and ‘The Quiet Place’ for not being that quiet as the title may seem. Anders Friden mentioned about the lack of crowdsurfing from the previous cities Southampton and Wolverhampton due to new rules. This gave Manchester the opportunity for In Flames to yearn for the “smell” of the ongoing crowdsurfers, with the ferocious ‘Fear Is the Weakness’ helping sate their yearnings. Fists were pumping for crushing melody in ‘Ropes’ and new single ‘Where the Dead Ships Dwell’ gave Manchester the chance to unite and sing with every inch of their body. The last chance to “smell the flying bodies” was in full session with popular track ‘Cloud Connected’ and the highlight ‘Take This Life’ gave security work to do as the spectators absolutely lost their senses.

‘Capsizing The Sea’ from their highly successful new album “In Waves” echoed through the speakers and Manchester responded with a massive epiphany of cheers, claps and chants for the main act of the night… Trivium. On walked the leader Matt Heafy [lead vocals/guitars] and his comrades Corey Beaulieu [guitars/vocals], Paolo Gregoletto [bass/vocals] and Nick Augusto [drums] to erupt the room with shattering tracks ‘In Waves,’ ‘Drowned And Torn Asunder,’ ‘A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation’ and ‘Dusk Dismantled’. Imploding the performance was ‘The Deceived’ in which Heafy howled to Manchester to interpret GO, which was translated with a wall of death forming into a circle pit. “OH MY GOD!” sprang from Heafy‘s lips in what his eyes witnessed. Their earth smashing songs ‘Built to Fall,’ ‘Ignition’ and ‘Down From the Sky,’  witnessed an accumulation of chants, claps, singing and clapping that Heafy responded light-heartedly “If I don’t have a voice for London, I’m blaming you!” Upon popular request, the track ‘Departure’ gave the chance for everyone to begin singing and dancing. ‘Like Light To Flies’ exploded into a war of headbanging and pushing, ‘Black’ was another blast of gigantic sounds and ‘Caustic Are The Ties That Bind’ let the audience show Trivium what they’re really made of. Then, all of a sudden, popular tracks ‘Dying In Your Arms’ and ‘Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr’ resulted in storm of broken throats and sore bodies. A brief break and their performance was completed with booming ‘Kirisute Gomen’ and ear-piercing ‘Throes Of Perdition’.

With ‘Leaving This World Behind’ playing in the background, spectators walked like zombies with throats croaky like ill frogs. It was a night of different styles but all have one thing in common. They were Defenders Of The Faith and they all did a tremendous job on making the third instalment an accomplished. A triumphant fist in the air for Insense, Rise To Remain, Ghost, In Flames and Trivium!