December 6th 2005
After the demise of his previous band, Devildriver‘s Dez Fafara certainly still feels he has a lot to prove in the metal world. His return back into the realm of all things heavy was at first greeted with much scepticism and an almost cynical certainty as to his quick and snappy return to obscurity, but in sharp contrast, the reaction to the band both live and on record, has been anything but.
Despite having that oh so trendy and predictable ‘metalcore‘ sound about them, Dez and co. definitely have that live edge that similar bands would give their right testicles for. Songs that sound fairly drab and samey on record are given a breath of life live, a sentiment that is blatantly obvious to the masses of Lamb of God t-shirt bearers in the crowd, who dutifully follow Dez’s orders to start breaking bones in the now customary wall of death. If Devildriver can bring their game up on their next release, it’s certainly possible it’ll be THEM headlining sold out shows at the Astoria next time round.
To Lamb of God regulars, the haunting cow bell opening music can only mean one thing – there’s five guys from Richmond, ‘fucking‘ Virginia who really don’t want you leaving the show without at least injuring someone in the process. This European tour marks the end of a massive touring schedule on the back of their ‘
Ashes of The Wake’ album , which has sold like ready-to-eat-temperature cakes on both sides of the Atlantic. Their appeal to such large figures of sales baffles most; as despite being lazily labelled part of the ‘New Wave of American Metal’, Lamb of God come from a much darker, more extreme and unique place than any of their peers sound wise.
Opening with album opener ‘Laid to Rest‘, the Virginia five piece’s mix of groove laden chunky riffs, inhuman screamed vocals, odd time signatures and bloody evil sounding lead guitar work by Mark Morton make for an exciting live experience. This band are fucking up for it, and the enthusiasm spreads through to the sprawling mass of a sold out Astoria crowd almost instantly.
Guitarist Willie Adler bobs up and down like a man possessed, with a beaming smile clamped onto his cheeky face, clearly loving every moment, whilst Randy Blythe paces up and down the stage eyeing people in the front row up with a stare that would have most preparing for a bout of fisticuffs, before belting out another one of his frankly incomparable demonic bellowings.
The crowd are lapping it up. If I didn’t know better, I’d say most of them had paid good money to simply beat the living shite out of each other. There is an almost constant circle pit swirling around right in the centre, with Randy’s insistence of people to ‘get fucking moving‘ hardly needed. This is fightin’ music, that’s for damn sure.
The set is excellently balanced between their three album back catalogue, bridging the huge gap between the studio production sound of ‘As The Palaces Burn‘ and ‘Ashes…’ and putting forward the music as it was intended to be heard, at ear shattering volume with a beer in every hand. It’s easy to forget just how musically complex Lamb of God’s music actually is, for music that sounds so raw and crude….another welcome addition to the American’s vast appeal to both fans of the straight up thrash and fans of more progressive stylings, and certainly with a new album on the way in 2006, Lamb of God’s rise to the top won’t just a matter of how popular they’ll be, but how many bands will be able to keep up with them in this current musical climate.
The only criticism of the band’s performance tonight has to be in relation to Randy’s vocals, which tonight certainly reflect a band who’ve been touring on this release, pretty much since it hit the stores. It’s to be expected naturally, but it does put a slight dampener to an otherwise face slappingly good set; and also augments Devildriver’s flawless visit to the stage, suggesting that even the best bands have their off days, but no one in the Astoria gives a toss about that, and Virginia’s finest can leave safe in the knowledge that they are well on the route to being megastars in the metal world.