Lamb of God Lead DC Metalheads To The Slaughter
Band Photo: Lamb of God (?)
Last week on Monday, March 26, I had the chance to get out to DC's 9:30 Club to see Lamb of God's Sacrament Tour with Trivium, Machine Head and Gojira as support. This year has been chock full of amazing tours and doesn't look to be letting up. This concert was the third sold out show in a row I've seen at the 9:30 Club, which has a capacity of over 1300 people. I was amazed upon my arrival just after 7:15 that the place was already filled to about three quarters capacity and the smell of hot, sweaty bodies already filled the air.
Rising French metalers Gojira had just started playing their first song, "Ocean Planet" and the crowd was clearly into them. Their sound was heavy with lots of low-end and the growled and gutteral vocals not especially loud in constrast the the music. It worked well given that the vocals are not the highlight of this band and are not in the forefront on their latest album either.
The band was clearly enthused with the response they got from the DC crowd and seemed charged to play each song on their set. Gojira continued to play an energetic half hour long set consisting of five songs total. Most of their songs have some fast, heavy grooves, which make for great headbanging, and then lead into a stop or a more free-form jam/interlude.
Gojira's setlist was as follows:
Heaviest Matter In The Universe
Before the show even started, I was severely disappointed to learn that Machine Head were in the second slot this night and not directly before Lamb of God. Machine Head has several more albums than Trivium and a lot of great material to fill a longer set, not to mention a number of newer Epic-length tracks. However, much like happened with the Killswitch, Dragonforce and Chimaira show, my personal feelings about the ordering seemed to contradict popular opinion, as Trivium had quite a lot of fans present that night.
Machine Head kicked off their set with "Clenching the Fists of Dissent," from their to-be-released-the-next-day (March 27) album, "The Blackening." The song started off slow but kicked in after a minute and a half intro when it turned into a typical fast and heavy song you'd expect from Machine Head - except it is over ten minutes long. Gojira frontman Joe Duplantier joined in the song on the "Fight" chants late in the song - those chants that were sung on the album by local Machine Head fans and press. Machine Head followed that up with Imperium, which is a solid seven minutes as well. While long, both songs have ample heavy parts to headbang to and fast parts to mosh to, and they never get boring with their well-timed change-ups and plenty of energy.
Their set was half over after only two songs, but they went on to play another new song, "Aesthetics of Hate," which frontman Rob Flynn introduced with an explanation about how it was about the writer who wrote a scathing article about Darrell Abbott and metal fans after Dime's murder. Rob seemed passionate about the message and the delivery of the song, as if he still takes it personally. It brought another level of intensity to the performance, at least for that song, making it the highlight of their set.
Machine Head played two more songs - "Old" and "Davidian" - off their classic debut album "Burn My Eyes." These songs, however, didn't sound as heavy or tight as usual, due to the tuning or effects on the guitars from the newer songs. Furthermore, attempts to get the crowd to sing some parts failed several times. Aside from "Old's" "Jesus Wept" line, the crowd didn't seem to know enough old Machine Head material to carry a verse or hardly even a chorus.
Machine Head's 35-40 minute setlist comprised the following:
Clenching the Fists of Dissent
Aesthetics Of Hate
Trivium took the stage to much anticipation from the crowd. They've clearly grown in popularity, receiving a lot of buzz as well as criticism in their short musical careers. They are often criticized for a number of things, from being "metalcore" to immitating Metallica on thier latest album. In there live performance, neither of these accusations seemed applicable however.
With their hair not feathered, but a little "prettier" than the other bands on the bill, Trivium seemed like they belonged in the 80s. And they played 80s-era style power-thrash. There were lots of fast riffs and some heavier riffs and aggressive vocals, but for the most part a melodic touch on the guitars, the solos, and the vocal delivery made for a medodic thrash unlike the other bands on the bill. Heafy's live delivery has peeled off the hardcore shouting of much of the older material in favor of somewhat more melodic vocals. The performance was not mind-blowing, nor bad, and I could imagine it garnering a good reaction at an outdoor festival with a large crowd and the band opening for bands like Iced Earth and Iron Maiden.
(I was unable to obtain a complete set list for Trivium's performance)
Lamb of God opened up with "Hourglass" from "Ashes of the Wake" and the crowd immediately went into a frenzy. They followed that up with "Again We Rise" and "Walk With Me In Hell" off their latest effort, "Sacramant," before returning to "Ruin" from their second album, "As The Palaces Burn." Lamb of God's performance was nearly flawless; the sound was great, the delivery was excellent and the energy level was high. More amazing than the performance itself is that vocalist Randy Blythe can keep his voice intact, screaming as he does for so many headlining sets on this tour. His voice did not falter once the entire show.
When they played "Pathetic" as the fifth song, the intensity jumped up another notch. The fast-paced galloping intro really got the crowd going. Lamb of God played a lot of songs from their new album - half of their set, was in fact new material - and a number from "Ashes of the Wake" and "As The Palaces Burn." Just past the middle of their set, they played an old Burn The Priest song (the band's former incarnation before renaming themselves Lamb of God), "Bloodletting." While sounding a bit more spastic than the other material, it fit right in for the most part.
Lamb of God was joined by Rob Flynn and Trivium's Matt Heafy at various points in their set. There was a great sense of comraderie among the bands on this tour, with each band allowing at least one other vocalist to sing on their songs.
The encore was nicely planned with the soft opening and overall slower-but-heavy and less-played track "Vigil." "Redneck" followed and though criticized for diverging from Lamb of God's own sound, it got the crowd even more pumped and gave them something to shout along to. It wasn't until the last song of the night that they played a song from their debut "New American Gospel" and it was the classis "Black Label."
After an hour and a half of punishment at the hands of Lamb of God, I was physically exhausted. The intensity and flawless delivery put their performance as one of the best I have ever seen, ranking up there with Slayer's "God Hates Us All" Washington, DC performance - one that I hold in the highest regards of all the shows I have attended.
Lamb of God's complete set list looked like this:
Again We Rise
Walk With Me In Hell
As The Palaces Burn
More Time To Kill
Blacken the Cursed Sun
Bloodletting (Burn The Priest)
Now You've Got Something To Die For
Laid to rest
Lamb of God have put together one of the strongest four-band packages I've seen yet. The tour is wrapping up this week, but if you live near Cincinnati, Ohio, get out and catch them on their last date at Bogarts.
Lamb of God, Trivium, Machine Head and Gojira:
4/05 Cincinnati, OH – Bogarts
Photos from the show have been posted in our photo gallery shortly.
Trivium will take their show to the UK for a short stint with Gojira as support before they head back to the US to gear up for their Family Values Tour appearance. Meanwhile, you'll be able to catch Lamb of God on the main stage of Ozzfest this summer.
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