Everybody Loves a Clown (So Why Don’t I?)
Actually, I do love metal clowns. Ozzy cleaning up dogshit, Nikki Sixx staggering around with a needle hanging out of his arm, Axl Rose throwing pre-passout tantrums about insufficiently slavish room service — ha-ha, the crowd roars, and I guffaw along. But as on VH1’s Heavy: The Story of Metal (on which I blathered briefly), the clown side always gets the airtime, because it’s the no-threat side. In the same way that media fixers defuse ghetto rebels by hyping gangsta rap — “Deal drugs and shoot people; you’ll get respect (and a nice funeral)” — the same fixers neutralize potentially explosive white metalheads by telling them that dressing up and overdosing is the surest path to wealth, glory and nirvana. Freedom = death.
Heavy covered almost nothing from the past decade. Why? Because that’s a time dominated by metal bands who work hard, play hard, look and think like their audiences, and don’t date Britney Spears. Real foes, not clowns. Bands like Lamb ?of God.
The overwhelming impression of Lamb of God’s new Sacrament — which debuted at fucking No. 8 on the Billboard Top 200 — is control. Always as precise as they’ve been heavy (don’t neglect their shattering full-length debut from 1998, when they were called Burn the Priest), the Virginia five have cut an album like a diamond stiletto. With a scientist named Machine at the knobs, barker Randy Blythe, drummer Chris Adler, bassist John Campbell, and guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler sound like men to be feared — not ’cause they’re crazy, but ’cause they’re committed. The sound provokes involuntary motion of the head and shoulders. The riff-strong songwriting is fully evolved and fat-free, with the solos few and maximally electrifying. You can take the words, packed with accusations and contempt (“Pathetic. Wasted. Soulless. Compromised.”), any way you want. And live, you should see the response.
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The overall vibe of Sacrament ain’t far from the template of LoG’s current Gigantour boss, Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine. (Lamb also just finished the Unholy Alliance tour with Slayer.) If the Godmen own no triple-threat star or tough-melodic singer on Mustaine’s level, their combined skills and sheer dedication compensate, and they’re tight-tight-tighter than Megadeth ever was. Yo, these dudes quit college to do this. Become their friend, for their enemies shall perish.
Gigantour, whose sinewy lineup includes Megadeth, Lamb of God, Opeth, Arch Enemy, Overkill, Into Eternity, Sanctity and the SmashUp, hits Devore’s Hyundai Pavilion Sun., Sept. 10.
As a compass for “jazz,” you can’t beat New York’s Thirsty Ear label, whose new Sexotica by Sex Mob is magnetic north. Drummer Kenny Wollesen and bassist Tony Scherr anchor repetitive, scary, ritualistic grooves. Briggan Krauss defines a new aesthetic of sliding, bending, sickly sax. The way the mellophones of Steven Bernstein keep oozing in, you’ll feel like you’re in some foggy sci-fi noir dream. And the production team, Good and Evil, constantly sticks weird little cybernetic insects into the pie. Eat it up.?