Almost a year to the day since their last London show, Lamb of God returned to Brixton on Saturday. We sent the new kid, Tom Dare, to investigate.
Once again, Lamb of God prove why they have built a reputation as one of the live bands of recent years. Once again, the PA does its utmost to fuck things up for them.
Anyone who saw Lamb of God here during the Defenders Of The Faith II tour last year probably noticed the sound was, to put it kindly, not the best. At the time, it was assumed the problems were due to the obvious difficulty of coping with the sonic differences between Lamb of God and Dimmu Borgir. Tonight, there are no such excuses. The sound is – if you can believe it possible – even worse.
Between The Buried And Me come onstage while most of the crowd is still getting in, the queue stretching all the way around the block. They still have a sizeable chunk of humanity watching them enthusiastically, but they are immediately stymied by a PA so muddied that the technicality simply does not come across. The keyboard passages are pretty much the only discernable aspect if their set. This is not helped by a band who look lost on such a big stage, and barely move from their start points throughout the set. Compounding this is a crowd there for Lamb of God and Job For A Cowboy, and therefore probably not in the right mood for twelve-minute epics opening tonight up. A genuinely good band let down horribly by technical issues and lack of dynamism onstage leaves more than a few punters more interested in their pints than BTBAM.
August Burns Red’s brand of melodic Christiancore suffers less with the ongoing and shocking sound issues, with their catchy tunes from higher up the guitar neck coming across and provoking notably more enthusiasm the longer the set goes on. ABR clearly have much more idea of what to do with such a large stage, and move about with energy. Although they come across as a cleaner-cut, less good version of Unearth to anyone who was here last year, they still do the job well.
Watch Job For A Cowboy play ‘To Detonate and Exterminate’ at Brixton Academy
Job For A Cowboy tear out of the traps and instantly find their groove. Similarly to BTBAM, a lot of the lower register technical riffage is lost in a quagmire of distortion but thankfully the rhythmic groove comes across and anyone worried about wall-to-wall breakdowns rapidly has those expectations blown away. The set balances new with old well, ‘Constitutional Masturbation’ being one of the highlights from last year’s Ruination, while a stunning rendition of ‘Knee Deep’ reminds you JFAC have not forgotten their Doom EP.
When Lamb Of God do come on stage as intro track ‘The Passing’ plays over the PA, the chants of “LAMB-OF-GOD!” have been going for some time, and the crowd is approaching fever pitch – it’s even affecting serious, objective, professional Thrash Hits reviewers. As the band rip into ‘In Your Words’, the tension snaps, the crowd surges forward and roars with manic main-man Randy Blythe. The rapid, pounding groove of a band this tight yet so fluid in sound is irresistible. The sound problems are still there (the breakneck intro of ‘Set To Fail’ being somewhat neutered) but are less noticeable than for prior bands.
Randy Blythe is an utterly riveting front-man. While the rest of the band are commanding enough, but the borderline-psychotic energy Randy exudes demands your attention. The vocals may be harsh screams, but even through a piss-poor PA he is clear and articulate – all the while looking like a man who should be detained for the safety of the public.
As well as showcasing the best of their latest, astounding album, Wrath, most of the old favourites are here, although only ‘Ruin’ makes it from As The Palaces Burn – a grossly overlooked album – and the familiar closing pairing of ‘Redneck’ and ‘Black Label’ is as pit-inducing as ever. The crowning glory of this setlist, however, is the majesty of ‘Reclamation’. Slow yet crushingly heavy, and angrily anthemic, not all of the crowd recognise this magnificent epic, but those who do go absolutely batshit for it.
Watch Lamb of God play ‘Redneck’ at Brixton Academy
Lamb Of God are one of the best live bands in the world, and prove it tonight, overcoming sonic problems that would have hamstrung lesser mortals. Roar it together: Agnus Dei, qui tollis iram mundi– the Lamb of God, who pours out the wrath of the world
Lamb Of God @ Brixton Academy setlist:
The Passing (intro track)
In Your Words
Set To Fail
Walk With Me In Hell
Now You’ve Got Something To Die For
Grace (with a special, extended intro)
Laid To Rest- dedicated to everyone’s Mum for Valentine’s Day