It’s hard to believe, but it’s been three years since Lamb of God first announced they’d be returning to tour the UK. A couple of line-up changes, a global pandemic and a whole new album later though and finally, the groove metal masters from Richmond Virginia have returned!
With most of the country still recovering from a miniature ice age, the weather isn’t quite as hospitable as it was during their flying visit to English shores last year. Where they joined Behemoth and Mercyful Fate to headline Bloodstock Festival. However, knowing there’s a debt to be paid to their English fans, Lamb of God have nonetheless battled their way through the ice and snow to be here tonight.
The freezing conditions clearly haven’t put anyone else off either. With the queue to enter the O2 Academy in Birmingham snaking way off into the distance when we arrive. In fact, it takes so long to make our way in, that by the time we’ve made it through the door and shaken off the cold with the rest of tonight’s capacity crowd. The first support band of the night, Municipal Waste are just finishing up their set.
It isn’t long until the next band of the night, thrash metal titans Kreator are up though. With the venue absolutely packed to the rafters as Run To The Hills blasts through the PA and beckons them to the stage. It’s a little strange to see veterans like Kreator in a support slot. They don’t seem phased in the slightest though, demolishing the front row with opening track Hate Über Alles, before kicking right into Hail To The Hordes without so much as a pause.
It might not be their show, but Kreator bring every bit of theatricality you’d expect from a headline performance with them too. With a full light show and even a small contingent of demons prowling the stage during fan favourites like Satan is Real. Oddly; despite cramming nearly a dozen songs into their set, State of Unrest, the band’s recent single with tonight’s headliners, remains absent. A slightly disappointing result for those of us expecting a live collaboration.
However, with that said Kreator put on such a show that even their hardcore fans don’t seem to notice until the mayhem is coming to a close with Violent Revolution and Pleasure to Kill. Both of which go down a storm with the capacity crowd. No doubt leaving a few lasting marks on anyone who happens to be near the mosh pit.
A quick sound check and a chance to head to the bar later and it’s time for the night’s main event. The sense of anticipation in the audience is palpable too. Some of those here tonight have waited nearly three years for this moment and as the house lights dim and the intro to Memento Mori begins all of that anticipation comes to a head. The crowd erupting in unison as Randy Blythe’s unmistakable silhouette appears centre stage, his hand raised to the sky.
Once the brakes are off, there really isn’t much that can stand in Lamb of God’s way tonight either. The opening riff of their next track, Ruin drops like an anvil. Causing a fresh surge of crowd surfers and opening up the mosh pit wider than it’s been all night.
There’s a slight halt in the momentum during Walk With Me in Hell, when someone in the pit has to be pulled from the maelstrom. Giving frontman Randy Blythe the chance to entertain the crowd with a list of British words that confuse him. Before finally admitting that even though he hates the word wellies, he definitely needed a pair in yesterday’s weather!
With everyone safe and sound and having had a good chuckle to boot, the show must go on, and go on it does. Phil Demmel did an amazing job filling in during the band’s festival appearances last year, but it’s great to see the duo of Mark Morton and Willie Adler reunited once again. Their newest member, Art Cruz does an admirable job behind the drums as well. Despite having Chris Adler’s lightning fast shoes to fill. Only tripping up once, while trying to up the pace of an already whiplash inducing rendition of Ditch.
Surprisingly, there’s not much in the way of new material from Lamb of God’s latest album, Omens on tonight’s setlist. Not that you’ll hear any complaints. With the band dropping hit after hit from a back catalogue that spans nearly two and a half decades. Making their set feel like a reward for all of those that have spent the last three years awaiting their return.
The sheer ferocity on display as they hammer through tracks like 11th Hour, Contractor and 512 is positively spellbinding. The crowd lap it up too. Roaring their approval in unison and throwing their horns in the air for every breakdown. Feeding off the energy on stage. Whipping themselves into a fury and loving every minute of it.
All good things must come to an end however and with their curfew fast approaching, the band finish things off with aplomb. With a double bill of Laid to Rest and Redneck that absolutely tears the roof off the O2 Academy. Leaving a victorious grin on Randy Blythe’s face as their set draws to a close. It may have been a long time coming, but Lamb of God have proven that they were absolutely worth the wait here tonight!