What you don’t know about the Canadian rock three-piece Triumph, even if you are a fan of the band, you are sure to find out in the feature documentary Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine.
Directed by Banger Films’ Sam Dunn and Marc Ricciardelli, this fantastic film follows the band’s beginnings, even before Triumph began, as drummer, vocalist and the band’s primary architect Gil Moore talks about his early days playing in various rock bands, coming to seduce bassist Mike Levine into his vision of a power trio, then finding guitarist Rik Emmett.
Triumph, the band they create, showcased a unique style of hard-rocking, melodic tunes and they put on smashing light and effects show — before they were even out of playing highs schools in their local Ontario area. With Moore’s drive, Levin’s business background (he worked for a label before joining Triumph), and Emmett’s guitar pyrotechnics, vocals and songwriting, this was a band that just kept pushing for bigger and better and surely got there.
The film includes some amazing footage — live, on the road, in the studio, making videos. There’s also commentary from people like original Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, actor and comedian Brian Posehn, and the Trailer Park Boys (where one member makes the wry observation that Triumph and Rush are the same band since we have never seen both play at the same time). We also hear from devoted super fans, who talk at length about the band and what their music means to them.
We delve into Triumph’s ups and downs, including Rik Emmett’s departure and its impact, followed by one-off reunions, and the band’s fan fest held in 2019 at Metalworks studio, which has been owned and operated by Moore since 1978. A reunited Triumph surprises the selected super fans in attendance by showing up and playing unannounced. It’s quite a short emotional set…complete with pyro, of course.
I am a real sucker for band documentaries, usually not even caring so much who the band is. And while I am certainly nowhere near as rabid for Triumph as their fans here, I learned a lot about what Gil Moore, Mike Levine, and Rik Emmett managed to accomplish. Now I dig their music even more. And their pyro, too.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.