Review by Sophie Maughan, photos by Krish Mistry
As one of the unlucky few who missed Lamb Of God’s headline performance at Bloodstock this past weekend, I am genuinely chuffed to be amongst the excited punters gathered at the Wulfrun tonight. The word on the street is that the Virginia natives festival performance was plagued by stage issues (namely muddied guitars and nigh on inaudible vocals at certain points) so this would also be a chance for redemption of sorts.
I’ve lost count at how many people are sporting LOG themed attire but suffice to say, there’s still a decent crowd for Reading lads Sylosis. The quartet’s pummelling blend of speed / prog metal sets the tone nicely as they storm through an 8 song set. Vocalist Josh Middleton is on fine, vitriol spitting form and as those circle pits begin to open up at the front, bodies are reverberating to the pounding rhythm section. All bases are covered with a great cross section of material being played this evening. Opener ‘Fear the World’ (from latest offering Monolith) is just an absolute beast of a track, as well as ‘Sands of Time’ (Edge of the Earth) and three ear-bleeding cuts from Conclusion of an Age. The riff-heavy ‘Teras’ sounds particularly epic and really showcases guitarist Alex Bailey’s technical prowess.
The 20ish minute interval is just enough time to ensure that the atmosphere is at fever pitch by the time the house lights dim once again. It is so hot even the walls are sweating. Anticipation hangs heavy in the dense air and the passionate bellows of “Lamb Of God!” are deafening. The stage is illuminated momentarily to reveal an impressive stage set up, complete with a Union Jack flag adorning Chris Adler’s drum riser. The band take the stage one by one and as those spotlights hit the earnest face of Randy Blythe, the proverbial shit of the assembled throng is lost completely.
The five piece launch into a devastatingly brutal rendition of ‘Desolation’ and the bodies and beers are flying. ‘Ghost Walking’ (also taken from last year’s colossus Resolution) follows suit and the adoration that this band command is impossible to ignore. There are some initial problems with the sound, but this doesn’t appear to bother anyone one iota. There are “Randall Blythe!” chants between every song and the ever modest frontman thanks all of “motherfucking Wolverhampton!” for their support. Blythe also pauses to briefly mention his recent legal battle which resulted in a touring hiatus for the band. It’s met with a loud chorus of ‘boo’s’ but he makes a point of reminding everyone that a fan lost their life and we should all be looking out for each other at gigs. It’s a genuinely honest tribute which then segues into the cacophonous stomp of ‘Walk With Me In Hell’. Cue the first of many venue wide singalongs and from the front all the way to the back, pints and horns are held aloft in a display of solidarity. It’s pretty obvious that the main focus and love is directed at Randy tonight, but it would be foolish to view this as a one-man show. The groove metal titans are first and foremost, a collective with a formidable sense of showmanship. Mark Morton and Willie Adler can deliver riffs that are intricate but with the added sonic power to rip you a new arsehole as you bang that head. Drummer Chris Adler does not miss a single roll or snare and bassist John Campbell ensures the rhythm section retains its technically sound aggression. Rabid pits proceed to open up during a frenzied ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’ and a quick succession of legs and arms are seen flailing as security drag them over the barriers. Randy’s subsequent statement that “This next one is a beer drinkin’ song!” (‘11th Hour’) is more like a battle cry and the writhing mass of revellers go batshit mental during set closer ‘Contractor’.
We get the shortest of respites as the acoustic strains of ‘The Passing / In Your Words’ (from 2000’s Wrath) begin to filter out signalling that the encore is upon us. By this point, the heat is inexplicable and a few of the faithful have taken to the draughtier climes at the rear of the hall. I am now officially sweating in places I did not know existed. Blythe engages the crowd with a bit of “what’s your name / where are you from?” banter before launching full throttle into an absolutely blistering version of ‘Redneck’. And holy mother of hell it is fucking INCREDIBLE. The reaction is, predictably, nothing short of manic and the lyrics to the first verse and chorus are screamed back almost rendering the band inaudible. It may just be the highlight of the show. The LOG boys give a shoutout to the security personnel before finishing proceedings with the rarely performed live ‘Black Label’. Stunning. The gleeful Ric Flair inspired cries of “Woooooo!” ring out long after the band have exited the stage and as the barrage of red faced perspiring bodies head for the main entrance, there’s no doubt that we have witnessed a band at the top of their game. January 2014 and a full UK tour cannot come soon enough.
2. Ghost Walking
3. Walk With Me in Hell
4. Set to Fail
6. Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
7. 11th Hour
8. The Undertow
11. The Passing
12. In Your Words
13. Laid to Rest
15. Black Label
See more of Krish’s photos here;