Lamb Of God

support Job For A Cowboy + August Burns Red + Between The Buried And Me
author AP date 13/02/10 venue Brixton Academy, London, UK

Brixton Academy is a wonderful venue. Not only does the queue, which often spans around the entire block, move faster than at any other London venue, if you are lucky enough to have your name on the guestlist, there is a separate entrance on the side which leads directly to the front of the stage - before anyone else gets in. This suits me well, because the band I have come here to see, it turns out, is playing first and knowing the average length of their songs spans over 10 minutes, I want to catch the entirety of their set, bound to consist of four songs at the very most. Unfortunately it takes me a while to locate this exclusive entrance, but not long enough to cause me much distress (even if it did mean I missed one of the coolest riffs ever written, period). But enough with the ranting, here's some reviews for your viewing pleasure:

Between The Buried And Me

As I walk into the front of the venue, the band is already halfway through set opener "Alaska" and despite the as-of-yet thin crowd, the power emanating from the stage is all but overwhelming. As the set progresses, people (including myself) become more perplexed by the byzantine instrumentation in "Disease, Injury, Madness" from the band's latest opus, "The Great Misdirect", and metaphorical hats are raised in unanimous respect. The performance is absolutely staggering under the command of vocalist Tommy Rogers' unmatched charisma, his mindblowing technical prowess and note-perfect renditions of his studio performances earning as many dropped jaws as the flawless delivery of the band's anfractuous song structures by guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring, bassist Dan Briggs and drummer Blake Richardson. When "White Walls" explodes out of the speakers following "Viridian", the now thousand-strong crowd is beyond sold, pumping their fists in the air as they devour the monumental beauty of that song. Mr. Rogers has the audience in the palm of his hand, and despite his small size he exerts total authority over the venue with the demeanor of a powerful deity whom we have all come here to worship. If the band can pull off a performance so almighty as third support, then a headlining show will probably rank among the best shows I will have ever seen - and a headlining tour from this band cannot come too soon.

Setlist:

01. Alaska

02. Disease, Injury, Madness

03. Viridian

04. White Walls

August Burns Red

Speaking of charismatic vocalists, tonight seems to be a showcase for them, for Jake Luhrs, too, is the kind of vocalist every band's frontman should aspire to be. He ensures that he is the centerpiece in August Burns Red's performance by spending most of the set with his arms to the skies, his leg positioned against the monitors, and screaming like it was his last day on Earth. Like Between The Buried And Me, this band's music leaves few opportunities for the guitarists two rock out, which is fine as long as the songs stand on their own. Unfortunately there is a tendency in this band to inject ridiculously technical breakdowns into every gap, and when you go from the mindgasms generated by Between The Buried And Me's arrangements, it's a little disappointing. Don't get me wrong though, August Burns Red performs with great enthusiasm and the music is still miles beyond what most of their contemporaries are doing in terms of originality, something that "Meddler" and "Composure" in particular are there to remind us about. Tonight's material has been chosen exclusively from the band's two newest albums, and leaves me somewhat bittersweet, having expected the band to, if not play the fantastic "Seventh Trumpet" from their debut, then at least "Indonesia" from the latest album with Tommy Rogers charging on stage to lend his clean vocals. Why not seize the opportunity when you're on tour with them?

7

Setlist:

01. Back Burner

02. White Washed

03. Mariana's Trench

04. Thirty and Seven

05. Truth of a Liar

06. Meddler

07. Composure

Job For A Cowboy

Continuing with mighty vocalists, next up is Jonny Davy and his death metal crew. Jonny is to date the only vocalist I have witnessed with a growl so terrifying it makes the ground rumble. The band is as convincing as ever, although some of the new songs escape my recognition. In fact it seems like the crowd is more enamored by the old material that makes up half of the band's chosen setlist, with "Knee Deep" and "Entombment of a Machine" both inciting a riotous disarray up front. Personally it is the more atypical title track from the latest album "Ruination" that leaves me most intrigued, being a slower and far more atmospheric piece than the six pummeling extremeties otherwise on offer tonight. This song is met with some confusion from the audience at first, but once the dissonant melody engulfs the venue, such confusion turns into fascination. Regardless, despite Jonny's best efforts to dominate everything, not to mention Jon Rice's death-defying windmilling behind the drumkit, the band's performance tonight does not live up to the previous times I have watched them tear shit apart, which leaves me thinking they'd be better off headlining smaller venues where the violence inherent in their music could better flow into the crowd. Nonetheless a solid, professional concert from this underground sensation:

7

Setlist:

01. Unfurling a Darkened Gospel

02. Constitutional Masturbation

03. Knee Deep

04. To Detonate and Exterminate

05. Entombment of a Machine

06. Ruination

07. Embedded

Lamb of God

And what do you know, then there's the veteran Randy Blythe, who in metal circles is regarded with huge respect for his role in forming an integral part of the American metal scene. There's just no other way to describe Lamb of God's music than pure American metal - something that the band's merchandise is not shy to advertise. And like their sound, their demeanor is metal as fuck. Without being a fan or even knowing many of the songs, it is hard not to be impressed by this metal equivalent of a renowned arena-rock band like AC/DC. Lamb of God were born to headline and to entertain - and indeed, from the get go it's pedal-to-the-metal and a performance ripe with energy. Some of this energy is admittedly lost after an explosive start, but a breathing break in the form of an interlude-slash-guitar solo lets the various band members recharge and regroup from a devastating finale ending with the legendary old-timer "Laid to Rest" and the punky "Contractor" from the band's newest album "Wrath".

There is the obligatory encore of course, with classics "Redneck" and "Black Label", which are met with a thunderous response from the crowd, and generally any diehard fan of the band should be content with the amount of old material being aired, with "Walk With Me in Hell", "Now You've Got Something to Die For", "Hourglass" and "Omerta" going down particularly well with the grizzly metal dudes amongst us. The icing on top of the cake would have been the inclusion of such masterpieces as "11th Hour" and "Vigil", but there is no harm in sampling some of the newer songs either, despite the fact that they manage to blur into an unrecognizable, dizzying mass for the undersigned. Having expended some praise for the obvious merits in Lamb of God's performance, however, it has to be said that the performance is not persuasive enough to influence me into going out of my way to catch this band live again. I guess metal as old school as this just doesn't cater to my interests, because I find myself growing increasingly impatient towards the end of the set, thinking haven't we already heard enough of this? But don't let a modernist's nitpicking anger you - Lamb of God are still one of the finest metal bands Stateside and deserve every bit of the respect they command.

Setlist:

01. The Passing

02. In Your Words

03. Set to Fail

04. Walk With Me in Hell

05. Now You've Got Something to Die For

06. Ruin

07. Hourglass

08. Dead Seeds

09. Omerta

10. Guitar Solo

11. Grace

12. Broken Hands

13. Laid to Rest

14. Contractor

--Encore--

15. Reclamation

16. Redneck

17. Black Label

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