Lamb Of God
Live Stream from Richmond, Virginia USA.
Saturday, 19th September, 2020
Support: Bleed From Within
The gigs of the COVID-19 era have continually evolved since Code Orange launched their album from a fan-free, but full production, club show back in March. We have seen everything since from Robb Fylnn (Machine Head) jamming on his acoustic guitar to Metallica’s desert dusk performance streamed to Drive in Theatres and Trivium’s recent setlist of rarities. Lamb of God have taken the opportunity for a mini-tour with two shows over consecutive weekends – the first of which promotes their self-titled album released in June. (Fellow WoS reviewer Ricky Aarons has a ticket to the full performance of the seminal Ashes of the Wake, so check his review next week).
Tonight’s self-titled festivities kicked off with Randy Blythe’s demonic spoken word intro to ‘Memento Mori’; an up close and personal performance. This is not just a front row seat, but at times a seat on the drum riser. It’s an album highlight, continuing the band’s undefeated streak of opening tracks, and well suited to both this intimate setting and having a serious headbang in the comfort of your own home. From there we get the beginning of ‘Crossroads’ on electric guitar by Willie Adler as the band rip into the album’s first single. It is awesome to see Willie and Mark Morton’s fiddly guitar playing up close, rather than trying to catch a glimpse of it while falling into the security barrier. Randy really nails the screams on this one too. ‘Gears’ sees the band drenched in green light and gives us a good look at new drummer Art Cruz at the back. Having replaced Chris Adler last year, he’s fit in seamlessly and is up to the task of keeping the groove and being precise on the fills. Mark gets to shred a bit on this one too with a quick solo.
After three straight belters, the prerecorded intro to ‘Reality Bath’ gives Randy the chance to welcome the audience to the broadcast as he dedicates it to the late Riley Gale (Powertrip frontman, RIP). ’New Colossal Hate’ follows and Randy really gets into his deeper growl as he paces the front of the stage, before getting knee up on the fold back in his iconic pose. At this point, I am missing the camaraderie of the crowd so take to Twitter. There are a lot of devil horn emojis on #lambofgod as fans from Long Island and New York share highlights so far.
Album highlight ‘Resurrection Man’ captures the slow menacing build up perfectly, with Art going sick on the double kick and John Campbell chiming in with his bass bridge. The breakdown is immense and my laptop is at serious risk of being crushed by my fist. Even though there is no one here I can’t help but applaud the track as it ends. ‘Poison Dream’ is missing Jamey Jasta’s contribution (Randy covers it) but is still a slab of hardcore-infused metal, with Willie and Mark trading quick solos. It really is classic Lamb of God, harkening back to their Ashes/Sacrament peak. ‘Routes’ is when I miss the crowd the most because they get down and thrash and there would be some serious circle pit action here.
Routes seriously needs a circle pit pic.twitter.com/qJsoZgVk1K
— KJ Draven (@KjDraven) September 18, 2020
There is little audience interaction throughout, as the band go from song to song, with the pre-recorded sections giving them a breather. Having a chat window (or at least an option) would really add to gigs like this by bringing in the sense of community. ‘Bloodshoot Eyes’ gives Randy the chance to show his vocal range, mixing screams with clean singing and his mental spoken word verses. ‘On the Hook’ follows to close out the album performance with a brilliant combination of speed metal and groove riffs. It is a timely reminder that the album has no filler, a tight collection of songs that have translated well into a live performance. It ends with a drone of feedback before they launch into ‘Contractor’! Hell yes, one of the best tracks from Wrath that lets the lighting guy go nuts with the strobes and Art unleash a brutal double kick.
Twitter is awash with circle pit GIFs. More feedback gives way to my personal favourite ‘Ruin’, and I’m getting a sense there’s a pointed political message with the selection of tracks. Before the breakdown, Randy orders viewers to “Destroy your fucking’ house” and I bet a fair few obliged. Homes destroyed, Randy lets us know that the next one “is a new song recorded in quarantine. It is for our dear friends Bill and Ted.” We get the live debut of ‘The Death of Us’ from the Bill and Ted Face the Music soundtrack. The Morton solo on this one is really crisp with a fair bit of whammy, before the camera goes super close on Randy and loses focus. It helps to capture the frantic energy. Randy again invites us to “feel free to destroy your living room” for the last song, ‘512’. It captures some of Randy’s thoughts during his imprisonment in Prague in 2012. It is a deeply personal track that the band delivers with conviction to end the stream.
Lamb of God put on a killer show with a plethora of live debuts, a couple of deep cuts and the magnificent ‘Ruin’. Bands would be well advised, even when gigs begin to return, to launch albums using a pay-per-view streaming model. It will be interesting to hear what numbers this show did as there wasn’t a sense viewing that thousands of other fans were on board. They remain one of the premier metal bands on the planet. There is no glitz and glam, though arguably if they wanted to try pyro and other effects this was probably the time to do it. What Lamb of God delivers is straight down-the-line heavy metal with gusto and fortitude. They did that in spades for this performance.
For a limited time this show is available on demand at https://watch.lamb-of-god.com/ and of course, there will be a second performance on 26th September (AEST) when the band play Ashes of the Wake in full for the first time ever.