Stampeding into one of the heaviest tour line-ups to greet in 2014, metal titans Lamb Of God have been one hell of a journey, most notably frontman Randy Blythe‘s well-documented arrest and trial in Prague throughout the most part of 2012 and 2013. Now, with a new year on the cards, the band are finally back with another headline UK to prove they’re still on top of their game.
Relatively new to the big tour circuit, Californian openers Huntress (***) deliver that traditional heavy metal style but, admittedly, there’s a modern twist somewhere in there that’s difficult to pinpoint. Frontwoman Jill Janus has an extremely powerful voice, switching for high wails to screeching fry screams through the likes of ‘Spell Eater’ and ‘I Want To Fuck You To Death’. Although it’s clear stages and crowds of this size are relatively new territory, it’s something they may be seeing more of soon.
Following a couple of teasing starts through soundcheck, including a very brief rendition of Pantera classic ‘Walk’, Poland’s Decapitated (***) finally take to the stage. Although they’ve only got just over half an hour to cram in a set consisting of material from across five albums, Decapitated manage to deliver the goods in a chunky buzzsaw blast of death metal. Indeed, across the likes of ‘Lying And Weak’ and ‘A View From A Hole’, not only is it impressive what they can do with sole axe-man Wacław Kiełtyka, but Rafał Piotrowski proves to be one of the genre’s best vocalists.
Still, it’s abundantly clear that the crowd are all here for one reason and that is, of course, Lamb Of God (****). Right from the get go with set opener, ‘Desolation’, the crowd finally comes to life and almost inhabits a life of its own through the band’s hour long set. Just one of a few set highlights comes in ‘Set To Fail’, which sees the crowd screaming along with Randy Blythe, at times even overpowering him. Even though he’s been chucked into the deep end, Paul Waggoner (Between The Buried And Me) needs a mention as he makes a great stand in for guitarist Mark Morton, who was forced to sit out of the tour run for family reasons.
However, it’s not until the band return for their encore that we truly see the night reach its true potential. ‘Vigil’ thrusts us at full-speed right back into the thick of it all, but it’s the one-two closer of ‘Redneck’ and ‘Black Label’ that brings us a huge circle pit that swallows up half of those in attendence. Let’s just say that, come the morning, there’s going to plenty of people complaining about neck pain and struggling from a hefty bangover.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)