This is only one out of five reviews to come, so prepare for a veritable shitstorm of loquaciousness, jumbled memories, and chicanery that only your favourite poseur can bring consisting of equal amounts hilarity and pit dickery. I’m fucked, as is the world, and everybody in it.
First off, I must extend an enormous shout-out to the most adorable 40 year old out there, Keith Chackes, whose surname evades pronunciation by all but those so linguistically advanced as to consider Lovecraft the literary equivalent of an afternoon snack. It’s thanks to this godless bastard that I was able to witness the nonsense and badassery that is a Lamb Of God show, as well as Cannibal Corpse, fo fucken free, so mwah. Before I explode, Sylosis.
Hailing from God-Save-The-Queenland, Sylosis are one of those bands that can only be rightly called “Modern” Metal. Being a combination of MeloDeath (as opposed to Melodic Death Metal, take note), Thrash, and Metalcore, they define genre tags, so your average Metal mag will love them (viz. Metal Hammer). They certainly are a talented band, and deserve the success they have received, though I’ve yet to get a full-on boner for them. They’ve got the skill and the shred that you’d ask for in a Thrash/Death Metal band, but end up being neutered by the cleanliness of their sound and the sheer lack of aggression that is called for in this thing we call Metal. However, they do know how to get a nice circle-pit going, and circle-pits are awesome in my book. Sylosis has only been on this side of the pond twice, but didn’t appear too excited to be playing in front of a decently sized crowd, so it almost gave the impression that they wanted their set to be over, and fast.
After Sylosis came everyone’s least favourite Hick-Metal project, going under HellYeah, a name that may only have been conceived after a night of Jack Daniels and rawhide. With members coming from Mudvayne, Pantera, and Nothingface, they had potential to at least make some okay music. How on Satan’s green Earth do you make Vinnie Paul’s spectacular drumming sound lackluster? It’s almost criminal how painfully popular the insipid excuses for “songs” HellYeah produces became. The fact that their frontman could stand up on that stage and grandstand to a crowd of drunken fools and get applause for namedropping the U.S. armed forces, as well as make the audacious claim that “we’re all Metalheads” without the slightest degree of irony is appalling and offensive. I’ve seen a better live presence and consideration for the audience’s feelings from blessthefall, and they’re godawful, pun fucken intended because they’re Christcore. HellYeah is so bad that an actual stench, an unmitigated olfactory assault, was making itself apparent while they went about abusing guitars and making them honk like abused geese rather than sing gracefully. HellYeah is a bad band, and Vinnie Paul lending his drum talents is no excuse for this shameful waste of equipment, cotton, and time.
After that torture, pain was renewed, however more ernest in spirit, by In Flames, Sweden’s biggest export aside from perhaps meatballs.
In Flames may have crossed the line into pure fucking un-metal with Soundtrack To Your Escape, but I just have too big of a heart to deny them access into my ears and soul. Though yes, Sounds of a Playground fading is beyond (and I say this acknowledging my own precence in the LGBTQ community) gay, In Flames’ overall output has been to my satisfaction.
I saw In Flames at this same venue three years ago in October, and it still is one of my fondest memories at a show. They played some old stuff, a lot of new stuff, and were damned entertaining all the while. This time, I cannot quite report the same results, as the oldest thing they played was from Colony, which is comparatively young, since it’s more steeped in MeloDeath than actual Melodic Death Metal, but I digress. Anders must have been hitting the wrong bottle beforehand, because he wasn’t quite as on his humour game as he was last time, or even in live videos. He was sloppy in his delivery, but I honestly can’t fault him, since I’d be drinking myself to death too if I had to tell a nightly lie and call my band Metal when it sounds like In Flames ca. 2011. It’s a shame that In Flames weren’t entirely on the ball as a whole setlist-wise, but as one of my favourite bands, I refuse to fail them, as I still love them like my bearded Swedish dads.
And now for the fun part: Lamb Of God, in the flesh, and proselytising their message of fear, pain, hatred, and power.
To deny you grew up with Lamb Of God, either as a young-un just discovering Metal, or an OG watching Metalcore hatch from an egg comprised of obsidian and cheap beer piss, would be a bloody lie at worst, and a fib and best. To say that you weren’t mindlessly headbanging to Laid To Rest or Ruin during their set that night would be to deny that you have a soul or a passion aimed towards something real. Sure, Lamb of God are what you can call “entry-level”, but damn they’ve got soul.
Due to Randy Blythe’s recent incarceration in Czech prison for “killing” someone, it wasn’t surprising to see a few “Free Randy Blythe” shirts in the crowd, even though the man was alive, well, and hairy on that stage appearing space-ship like as thee performed their vitriolic version of a new American gospel with a fervor that just about blew away every other band playing that night. Randy poured bottle after bottle of water upon his head as though making up for a missed shower, Chris Adler beat his kit like it owed him rent money, and the dual guitar attack of Mark and Willie had more crunch than on record. John Campbell played bass and looked like a wizard. Cool. Randy commanded the crowd to “get ignorant”, but in all reality, it got ignorant when a fight broke out during Sylosis. To say nothing of the praise HellYeah god for being awful.
Lamb Of God is one of those bands that I can check off my list of “gotta see live before I die”, and damn was it a blast. “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For” made HellYeah’s own shout-out to the U.S. Army pathetic in comparison (and this is coming from someone who isn’t all “hoo-rah” about what our men&women in uniform are made to do, by the way), “Ruin” was insurmountably heavy, “Set To Fail” had even slicker blasts and grooves, “11th Hour” had vitality unmatched, the final breakdown of “Black Label” was impossibly brutal, etc. etc. In short, seeing Lamb of God live just about re-affirmed in my mind that they’re not to be fucked with. They may be placed alongside bands like Chimaira, Trivium, Shadows Fall, etc., but they’re just a tad bit more pissed than your average “Heavy Metal” band, and that’s the bottom line.
Much more to follow, stick around, if you dare.