Metal recruits the most committed, viking-esque fans of music, but in the eyes of many it’s become an exaggerated caricature of itself. There’s only so many circle pits that most people can endure, before projectile vomiting a mixture of red meat and beer onto the back of someone’s Slayer T-shirt. These preconceptions can often become bloated, causing many to view it with a lingering distain for 80s pomp, as a bit silly and over-the-top. But these opinions also come from people that gave up on fun years ago.
As the spit-shined product of a 14 year evolution, Lamb Of God now exemplify what metal really is, in all it’s pumped-up, “middle fingers in the air” charm and on a wider scale than anyone since Pantera. Their show at Southampton’s Guildhall is testament to this, providing as much power, community, virtuosity and violence as one could possibly ask for.
Literally kicking off with a flurry of double-bass drums and loose toms in quick succession, Chris Adler hurtles into a ferocious ‘Desolation’ and instantly commands respect as one of the most unique drummers in the world. Although guitarist Mark Morton is absent due to a family emergency, his boots are adequately filled by Between the Buried and Me’s Paul Waggoner, who approaches the bands staccato riffs with urgent technical proficiency, weaving naturally with Willie Adler’s signature grooves and John Campbell’s rumbling low-end. Then there’s Randy Blythe, who’s bible-bothering growls are both articulate and pant-wettingly scary, while his banter encourages the crowd to have as much drunken fun as humanly possible.
Newer songs from ‘Resolution’ fit seamlessly in a set heavy on ‘Ashes Of The Wake’ material, but from 2006’s Sacrament, highlights come in the form of ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ and ‘Redneck’, which leap from the rest, as established scream-along anthems.
Even with a complete lack of mainstream coverage, metal still maintains a near-religious undercurrent of popularity. The fact that Lamb Of God can own a stage as big as the Southampton Guildhall, proves this better than anything and cements their position as the ultimate heavy, yet accessible choice for metalheads.