Lamb of God with In Flames, Hatebreed and Sylosis
Better than... a candy sack full of strychnine-soaked raisins wrapped in razor-blades.
See also: *More photos from the show
Last night on Halloween, things got gory as Sylosis, Hatebreed and In Flames opened for Lamb of God at the Palladium. Eardrums were slashed, necks got sore and hundreds of kids created metallic mayhem. Their circle got so large that at one point there was an island of people trapped helplessly in the middle.
We popped in a bracing mouthful of stale candy corn, and prepared ourselves to play "Halloween Costume or Real Life Costume: Champions Edition."
First up was British band Sylosis, a clean, tight, and epic-sounding thrash act with some decidedly old-school chops. Hatebreed then came up and did their Hatebreed thing. Sweden's In Flames, who were next, put out technically proficient, enthusiastic, throbby metal. When frontman Anders Fridén yelled out," Don't stop now, keep those bodies flying, people," one kid didn't stop headbanging for ten minutes...even when the band stopped playing. Fridén thanked us all from the bottom of his "cold Swedish heart." Aw.
The long break allowed for a bit of costume evaluation. Winner? Alien in a Suit from They Live! Holy shit. Well done, sir. Loser? Aladdin. Couldn't you have made it Zombie Aladdin or something? Aladdoom? Y'know, something a little more metal?
Speaking of which, the break also us gave us pause to consider a serious phenomenon among those fury-eyed non-hipsters we call metalheads. It's time we talked about what is and isn't "Metal as Fuck".
Like, when Lamb of God delayed their intro with total darkness, then began flashing projected images of exploding buildings and eventually took the stage to LBJ's 1964 Campaign-winning Daisy Girl / Nuclear Explosion ad while playing the blitzkrieging "Desolation"? Yes, friends, that was "Fucking metal as fuck," as correctly announced by two dudes near us.
But then, later, when one poor costumed gal was being loaded into an ambulance, strapped down into a head-stablizing stretcher? No, that was not, "woah, heavy metal as fuck, dude," as another couple of bro's pointed out. We do recognize that there's a lot of grey area on the Metal as Fuck Scale, but there should be boundaries.
So yeah, Lamb of God opened with some face-melting excitement, igniting fans into a wild-eyed conniption. Guitarists Willie Adler, in Kenny Powers garb, and Mark Morton, in Mark Morton garb, were masters of their dark craft -- equally balancing the throb and doom against fluttering riffs.
Randy Blythe did almost as much talking as he did singing. Which was fine. The group. after all, was performing their first show in L.A. following his Czech incarceration. "We had a slight delay in this tour...I had a brief stay in a nice gated community. But I'm glad to be back here in the land of the free and the home of the brave." A perfect segue into their pro-soldier "Now You Have Something to Die For" while pictures of US servicemen and women played onscreen.
Without Chris Adler's outstanding beats, the circle pit would not have reached such an absurd size, creating its own island. His layered double-bass shattered chest muscles and resonated diaphragms to the point where stillness was impossible throughout most of the show.
Before firing off their blue-collar anthem "Redneck," Blythe asked: "Any of you drive here in a pick-up truck to get here? You all aren't from LA, I know this. Well, this song is for you country motherfuckas." Said country folk proceeded to lose their collective shit.
Closing with the massive "Black Label," the circle pit's center island faded away and the crowd turned into a giant sweaty mass of frenetically moving pieces. Briefly pausing to break down into sludginess, Blythe wished us a happy Halloween, before bringing it all down.
Seriously, we hope that ambulance rider is back up and healthily head-banging as soon as possible. Aladdin, go home and rethink your life.
Personal bias: None whatsoever. Seriously.
The crowd: Do you have to ask? If you were there, you saw it; if you weren't, it was because there were going to be sweaty, weird-looking, booze-fueled, overenthusiastic, horn-throwing metal people that you didn't want to sully your perfectly tidy, unnecessarily gluten-free All Hallow's Eve. The metal people were all there and they were wonderful. Part of me wishes that they all ended up puking on your lawn screaming "Heavy fucking metal!" until they passed out or you got the courage to call the cops.
Random notebook dump: "Little Red Slutting Hood" is my favorite costume here, even if I will probably never admit it to anyone for fear of either catering to poor taste or, y'know, a second wave feminist backlash."
By the Numbers:
Estimated Average age, in years, of last night's concertgoers: 21
Minutes Before Lamb of God's Set began that "metal horns" went up through the crowd in anticipation: 4.5
Ratio of things correctly deemed "Metal as Fuck" to those incorrectly identified as such: 4/1
Respective ratio of weed smoke to oxygen in the Palladium's atmosphere at concert peak: 80/1
Minimum number of visible Black Flag logos: Zero
Maximum number of visible Misfits logos: Eight
Approximate Ratio of Juggalos to Jugga-gentiles: 1/100
Number of times Randy Blythe addressed the crowd as "Motherfuckas": 62
Set list below
See also: *More photos from the show
Walk With Me In Hell
Set to Fail
Now You've Got Something to Die For
The Passing / In Your Words
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Laid to Rest