Getting Bored and Angry at Lamb of God: Review and Photos
Drummer Chris Adler is considered one of the genre's best drummers and he, as one would expect, played flawlessly. The giant screens on stage showed him playing from multiple angles, which felt much like watching an instructional metal drumming DVD.
Guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton shredded though standard metal riffs and solos like they were showing off in the middle of a Guitar Center. While I didn't notice anything very interesting or unique about their styles, they both have unquestionably mastered the art of heavy metal guitar.
Bassist John Campbell had a cool gray beard.
The set list covered many fan favorites, including "Laid to Rest" and "Redneck" (Really? Why not just call your next album Git-R-Done?), as well many new songs which fans will be happy to know sound exactly like the old songs. Fourteen of them were played in total.
The band played together tightly, with impressive musicianship and skill, and put on an energetic and entertaining live show. The sound was great, the light show dazzled, the audience was on fire, but for me there was one problem... The music was still just not good.
It was metal for the sake of metal; riffing to showcase flashy guitar riffs; screaming just to scream. Nothing sticks in the mind aside from a stock metal lyric or two, every drum-beat and every riff seem interchangeable and every song seems to follow the same formula in the same key.
Now it isn't Nicki Minaj or "Ballroom Blitz" (the song I hate more than any other) or some equally irritating garbage that makes you want to set fire to an elementary school... it simply isn't anything. How can something be heavy if it's empty?
And ohhhh, the breakdowns. Where on earth did all these atrocious breakdowns come from? A song is moving along at a nice pace, and then we have to listen to chug-chug-pause-chug-chug-chug-pause over and over for 90 seconds before getting back to the damn song.
But I digress... My point was I feel like Lamb of God is just going through the motions - much like its second-wave peers. They love Slayer and Pantera and Black Sabbath and all the same metals bands we all do. They want to play the style of music that they love, but the critical difference is that those bands played with style, originality and purpose. It's like listening to the blues if they just stopped striking those notes that made you feel something, stop singing heartfelt lyrics with pain or joy and just kind of went through the motions. It might still be the blues, but why not listen to the real thing?
The audience was a show of its own. Unbeatable people-watching. The majority of them I had never seen at a show before. There was this vibe in the room that people came to air out their problems, whether it was trouble with the law or just trouble getting their D&D characters to advance levels. Whatever the case, a lot of the audience appeared to be blowing off steam, and whatever was going wrong in their lives at the time didn't matter for that hour and a half while they were loving the shit out of some Lamb of God. You really can't fault people for that, but when you see plenty of great metal bands come to town and play to only twenty people while this does huge numbers, it's hard not to feel a little frustrated.
But maybe that frustration is in vain. I think this new second wave is metal for people who don't normally like metal. It is easy and accessible. It never goes too slow, it never goes too fast. It never gets too angry, too dark, or too sincere. Its just kind of there, doing what it thinks its supposed to do, saying what it thinks its supposed to say. I encourage fans of this band to dig deeper, for there has really been so much incredible heavy metal released over the last four decades to be explored. You're on the right track, but you just stopped at the vending machine when there's a goddamn Red Lobster a little way down the road. Can you smell the cheddar bay biscuits ©? Sure you can. See you at the Red Lobster. I'll be the guy in the corner crafting a pentagram out of my shrimp scampi and making fun of your $30 Lamb of God shirt.