When Lamb Of God come to town, there’s always going to be a crowd. What I didn’t expect was a queue around the entire venue to get in. By the time I made it inside, Huntress were finishing up their last few songs.
Thankfully, our photographer Jo stepped in and saved me from waffling about how ‘nice’ the Brixton Academy is, or something equally turgid, while I struggled to write about what little of their set I caught. Massive thanks to Jo! Check out her interview with Huntress frontwoman Jill Janus here.
I’ve never necessarily been a fan of female fronted metal bands but especially after having a quick chat with their lead singer backstage before the doors open, it’s clear to me Huntress are very different to their symphonic metal counterparts.
They take to the stage cracking into an energising and tight thirty minute set covering some of their most popular tracks including Zenith off their recent album Starbound Beast. A track which particularly stands out is I Want To Fuck You To Death, the lyrics of which were written for Huntress by Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead – who gets an appreciative cheer from the audience.
If you’re looking for operatic style symphonic soprano-led metal then look elsewhere. Huntress snack on those bands between meals. Blake Meahl and Anthony Crocamo provide some ballsy riffs and melodic solos while Carl Wierzbicky’s thundering drumming pairs nicely with Ian Alden on bass, making for a satisfyingly all round meaty sound. There are no extras here, just classic heavy metal with a decent dose of thrash and catchy choruses.
Jill Janus is not on stage merely to be provide eye-candy while the men behind her do all the hard work, nor is she a kind of operatic, corseted canary. She stalks the whole length of Brixton Academy’s stage belting out her screams and growls, interchanging these with melodic singing, utilising all of her 4 octave voice as she engages with the crowd. At times she behaves like she’s been momentarily possessed, dipping into lunges, singing wide eyed to the audience as if she’s telling them a suspense-filled story or warning them of impending danger. She means business.
Some may think Huntress were a surprising choice of support for Lamb Of God but they were chosen for a reason. As they themselves declared on stage, they will be returning to mainland Europe and the UK to play more festivals and headline shows soon. They are an extremely hard working band with a classic sound and a crystal clear vision.
After a short changeover, Decapitated emerge to throw down the gauntlet with their extreme but intelligent technical work. I’m not too familiar with Decapitated – they’re a name that I’ve been recommended countless times, but somehow, I just never got round to listening to them. What a fool I am. I picked up Nihility the day after this gig – it’s a tech-death whirlwind, which I’d highly recommend for fans of Necrophagist, Nile or Pestilence.
So while I can’t tell you exactly which songs they played (except for the one song I knew well beforehand; Spheres Of Madness to close the set), what I can tell you is that Decapitated are insanely good live. They boast one of the tightest rhythmical units I’ve ever seen in a live performance. Michał “ML” Łysejko paves the way for the rest of the band with punchy drum fills and a bone-rattling series of kick attacks, who oblige him with sweeping melodic runs and shudderingly aggressive riffs.
A new album will be out this year, which I’m looking forward to hearing; details are scarce right now, but Decapitated definitely understand the meaning of the word ‘quality’. They’ll be playing at Bloodstock 2014 on Saturday 9th August.
We don’t have to wait too long to see Bloodstock 2013’s Saturday headliners appear. Lamb Of God charge straight into Desolation followed by Ghost Walking, both songs which appeared on their most recent release Resolution. With such a great catalogue of songs to choose from, their sets are always great fun and always very exhausting for the crowd, who sing along to almost every song, matching Randy Blythe’s enthusiasm on stage.
An interesting temporary change in the line-up sees Paul Waggoner of Between The Buried And Me filling in for Mark Morton. No complaints – Waggoner is an incredible player who can do pretty much anything he wants with his instrument.
The set contains the expected crowd favourites like Redneck, Black Label and Walk With Me In Hell, plus Ruin and Black Label among other older tracks. Keeping up a decent pace, Lamb Of God deliver everything we’ve come to expect from them – fast, precise riffs with fantastic vocals and a backbone of steel provided by John Campbell and Chris Adler. In between songs, Blythe says nice things about the UK (obviously, if they’re nice things then they’re probably not true but I appreciate the gesture).
It’s been a great night, and I’m very excited about getting hold of some Decapitation once I get home.
But it goes without saying, (as always) Lamb Of God killed it.
To see more awesome photographs from tonight’s performance, check out the following galleries!