Lamb Of God at the O2 Guildhall, Southampton (13/01/14)

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To say Lamb Of God have had a lot to deal with over the past year would be a gross understatement. This is their first major tour since frontman Randy Blythe’s lengthy trial in the Czech Republic. After such an ordeal, you’d forgive the man for taking some time off, but it’s going to take more than that to slow this unstoppable metal machine.

Kicking off the night’s proceedings was Huntress. Their blend of traditional heavy metal with more extreme elements might seem an odd fit on this bill to some, though it doesn’t take long before they’ve won over all but the most unswayable audience members. Singer Jill Janus was a captivating presence with a powerful voice, delivering every song perfectly. Recent single ‘Zenith’ (essentially a song about getting stoned with aliens) is a full-on thrash attack and the hooky ‘I Want to Fuck You to Death’ (co-written with Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister) warrants a sing-along. Jill implored us to let the witches in with the closing ‘Eight Of Swords’, and by the time that they left the stage it’s clear the band have converted more to their cause.

Like the headliners, Polish Tech-Death outfit Decapitated have had their share of bad luck over the years, though to a far higher degree: Their 2007 bus crash killed drummer Witold ‘Vitek’ Kiełtyka and left vocalist Adrian ‘Covan’ Kowanek in a coma that he is still yet to fully wake up from. However, the new lineup assembled by Vitek’s guitarist brother Vogg (Waclaw to his mum) has been continuing the band’s legacy for the past five years. From the amount of the band’s merchandise to be seen among the crowd it’s clear that they’re almost as big a draw as LOG themselves. As they entered with a punishingly brutal rendition of ‘404’ heads start banging frantically. Some of their songs may be more technical than advanced calculus or more difficult to play than Flappy Bird, but they have everything totally locked down tight and every note was executed with precision. There’s new material on the way this year from the band but unfortunately we weren’t treated to any previews. ‘Day 69’ slays as always and ‘Spheres of Madness’ incites the biggest circle pit of the evening thus far, but the best is yet to come…

From Chris Adler’s opening drum fills in ‘Desolation’ to the final chord of ‘Black Label’, Lamb Of God provided us with a masterclass in modern metal. Guitarist Mark Morton is absent on this tour, taking care of some family business back home, but is ably replaced by lookalike Paul Waggoner of Between The Buried and Me. The rest of the band are in top condition also, pummelling through modern classics like ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ and ‘Ruin’, making it look easy. The set seemed somewhat weighted towards 2004’s Ashes of the Wake (four songs from this album make an appearance), perhaps a celebration of its 10th anniversary? This is, of course, in no way a bad thing, with the ferocious ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For‘ and ‘Laid to Rest’ getting particularly vigorous responses; the famously humongous LOG circle pit spanned almost the entire width of the hall. A brief pause in the action was had when Randy takes the time to thank the supports and chat to the audience, all set to the theme from a 70’s American TV show he seems surprised nobody recognised:
“Are there any Americans in the house tonight? I guess we should have played the Benny Hill theme!” he quips, before the room descends into chaos once again to the monstrous ‘Redneck’.

LOG once again proved that they are not only one of the best live bands in the world today, but true monoliths of metal. They seem to have come back stronger than ever from what must have been their lowest point, and if they continue at this rate it won’t be long until they reach even greater heights.

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