Words by Carly Gibbs
In case you missed it, last weekend on the 19th of September, heavy metal behemoths Lamb of God streamed the first of a two-part live performance across the globe and straight into our living rooms with the support of those vicious Scottish lads, Bleed from Within. It was the first time they had played their critically acclaimed self-titled album live and was a brutal introduction to a Saturday morning. If you missed it, you can read my review of that gig here –
This morning, I once again found myself up before the sun in anticipation of the second live stream from Lamb of God, this time playing ‘Ashes of the Wake’ in its entirety. Jose Mangin from Liquid Metal was back to host the stream and his passion and enthusiasm for all things metal and his love for Lamb of God is palpable. Standing in what looks like his home studio, in front of a wall of framed metal memorabilia, he gears us up for what is in store today. Tennessee deathcore lords Whitechapel are the support for today’s show. Last week, prior to LOG set, we were graced with a short interview with drummer Ali from Bleed from Within, but unfortunately there wasn’t a pre-show interview with any of the Whitechapel boys today. This did allow for a longer set time though, so I’ll take it.
Jose introduces Whitechapel and it switches to a live set direct from Knoxville, Tennessee, the bands hometown. It must have been recorded prior to the Covid-19 madness because the place is packed full to the brim with eager and sweaty punters. It’s a completely different vibe with a live crowd and instantly, with the first chord of Our Endless War, the writhing crowd kicks up into overdrive. The band are all dressed in black button up shirts and pants and vocalist Phil Bozeman ruin’s the crowd with his blistering vocals. Section 8, second song in, and there is already the call for a circle pit. The crowd quickly complies and a rabid pit breaks out. They shred through tracks like a rusty saw blade through butter and guitarist Ben Savage is bathed in a white light as he plays the intro to I, Dementia. The band move on to Possession and it seems as though the bounce of the track is elevating the crowd onto the very tips of their toes just to get enough height to properly bounce along with the track. The band start to headbang in unison and some might call it cheesy or kitsch but I love it! It somehow encompasses the unity of the scene in one small, defined movement. It’s instantly recognisable and even without hearing the sound that the band is producing, visually you would be able to describe what kind of music was playing. The faces in the crowd are red, sweaty, exhausted but grinning from ear to ear. The band finish with the eviscerating Possibilities of an Impossible Existence and they pour out the absolute last of their energy into the performance. The light drains out and they walk off stage to a cheering crowd.
A short reprieve after Whitechapel and Jose is back and this time, we are gifted with the demi-god Mark Morton for a pre-show interview. They discuss the release of Mark’s solo album ‘Anesthetic’ and being able to work with Chester Bennington, the fact that spending time off the road has been conducive to a lot of writing and a little recap of the stream last week. Akin to the interview with Randy last week, Mark professionalism shines through and it is super engaging and interesting to listen to him speak.
The countdown is up and the screen flicks to Lamb of God muted backstage, looking cool, calm and collected and ready to obliterate the stage. Atmospheric bell tolls, muffled voices and sounds of a fierce storm play over the top of what we are seeing as the band enter and pick up their respective instruments. Laid to Rest kicks in the front door and we are belted with the cold-blooded onslaught of ‘Ashes of the Wake’.
This album is sixteen years old, which is absolutely ridiculous to me. Maybe, because I still feel 16 now but I was actually 21 when this album was released. It’s just as relevant today as it was then and doesn’t sound like it has aged one bit. Randy Blythe takes a sip of the bands own Ghostwalker non-alcoholic beer and they roar off into Now You’ve Got Something to Die For, followed by The Faded Line. Randy is menacing under blue light, reciting the spoken word intro of Omerta which he injects more of a threatening vibe into when live. They move through the album with razor sharp timing and precision like they came out of the womb playing these tracks. Some banter from Randy informing the at-home crowd that “Mr Morton assures me that this has never been played live before” as Ashes of the Wake rings out. Considering in the album version, Alex Skolnick of Testament plays the second guitar solo, and Chris Poland, formally of Megadeth, plays the third, Mark and Willie Adler do a brilliant job to demolish the track themselves in this live arena. Beast mode! “I love that song; you guys need to play it at every show.” Randy says to the rest of band, tongue in cheek. His humor comes through even in a relatively vacant room.
They easily polish off the last tracks on the album and swiftly move onto the encore which comprises of 3 favourites off 2000’s ‘New American Gospel’. O.D.H.G.A.B.F.E, The Subtle Art of Murder and Persuasion and then, the pièce de resistance, for me at least anyway, Black Label. “This is a song we never play live, but because you are stuck at home and you can’t sue us, we’ll play it” says Randy. Brutal. A quick “thank you and good night” and as fast as they arrived, they were gone once more, enveloped in a screen of darkness.
This second instalment of the live stream was every bit as intense, exhilarating and brilliant as the first one last week. Whitechapel were a fantastic addition to the show and it was really refreshing to see a live band with a crowd again. Hopefully it won’t be too long until it is, once again, the norm. The art, music and live performance space is a hard place to navigate at this point in our crazy World, but I think as long as we have bands, crew and fans who are passionate about keeping this industry afloat by thinking outside of the box and putting on and supporting shows like this, we can get through it together.
If you missed the stream this morning, you can still buy a virtual ticket to watch for the next 48 hours only here– https://watch.lamb-of-god.com
If not, you can check out Lamb of God and Whitechapel on the links below-
Lamb of God:
With thanks to Nuclear Blast