Many metal bands face their share of adversity in the course of their careers but few can say they coped with the prospect of losing their frontman to a lifetime in prison for the death of a fan.
Such is the case with Lamb Of God, who are currently out on the road in support of their latest album, Resolution, with co-headliners Killswitch Engage, thrash legends Testament and up and comers Huntress
The band has been leading the charge of the new wave of heavy metal movement since their inception as Burn The Priest in 1990 and are one of the most respected and revered metal bands out there.
It all came crashing down on June 27th 2012, when frontman Randy Blythe was arrested and charged with the death of a 19 year old fan who crawled onstage with the charismatic frontman only to fall from the stage and hit his head, later dying from the injuries he sustained in the fall.
Blythe was indicted in December 2012. The verdict read that Blythe had thrown the fan from the stage and had a moral responsibility for the fan’s death, but was not criminally liable. That decision was appealed and upheld by the Prague High Court in June 2013. Blythe was once again a free man and the band have been on the road ever since.
The tour is winding down after five months on the road and the fans in Pittsburgh would have the pleasure of being one of the last stops before the tour drew to a close. The band played with a renewed sense of vigor like it might be their last show ever, as only a band that had lived through and overcome their situation could.
California metal band Huntress would have the honor of getting the party started. They delivered a high energy set, with titles like “Senicide,” “Destroy Your Life” and the Lemmy Kilminster-penned, instant classic, “I Wanna Fuck You To Death,” with adrenaline-fueled conviction. They stopped just long enough for front woman Jill Janus to comment on what a romantic Lemmy was.
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Speaking of Jill Janus, she has incredible stage presence and absolutely owned the crowd. She prowled every inch of the stage dressed in her witch attire, looking and acting like Stevie Nicks on speed. Janus addressed the crowd, telling them they would be giving away free hugs at the merch booth and to pack their bongs for “Zenith.”
The death metal scream at the beginning of closer “Eight of Swords,” is ripped right from the Tom Araya playbook and ended their set on a very high note. Janus spoke to the now frenzied fans one last time to tell them to stay metal forever, to smoke fucking weed and to mosh it up one last time, to which the fans obliged, all too happily.
Up next were Bay Area thrash legends Testament who proceed to pound out a brutal eightsong set of amazing 80’s thrash metal, with pinpoint accuracy. The guitar duo of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick were in top form as they tore mercilessly through “Rise Up,” “More Than Meets The Eye,” “The Preacher” and “Native Blood,” with the intensity of a band half their age, establishing once again their place at the head of the metal table.
Frontman Chuck Billy was in rare form and delivered one of the best shows of his life. Having stared death in the face and won, his performance reflects that new found sense of purpose. He stopped before “Into The Pit” to tell the crowd that “There is plenty of room, so there is no excuse, let’s see the Wall Of Death.” As the crowd swirled out of control, Billy stood atop the drum riser, wailing on his illuminated, half mic stand, as if it were a guitar, belting out a series of death metal growls like an escaped insane asylum inmate.
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They are tighter than ever as they continued on through “The New Order,” “Disciples of the Watch” and closer “Over the Wall,” as the pentagram skulls spewed smoke onto the stage. With only an eight song set, everyone in attendance was left wanting more and wondering, why the hell Testament would be opening for anyone, after 30 years in the business.
Taking things to the next level were Killswitch Engage, who took the stage to the intro music of “Eye Of The Tiger,” by Survivor and from the first note of “A Bid Farwell,” the fans went nuts and lost their minds in a spiraling fury of moshing intensity and a swell of crowd surfers that security could not keep up with. The pits grew so large, that those who weren’t moshing were still taken off their feet and moved by the shear momentum of the now-manic crowd.
The band dispatched a flawlessly-executed set of melodically heavy, technical metal with authority, stopping only long enough for guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz to go on a rant about headbutting your girlfriend’s tits, even going as far as dedicating “Rose of Sharyn,” to your girlfriend’s tits.
Jesse Leach is a man on a mission, who feels he has something to prove to the fans. His stunning performance leaves no doubt that he was the right choice to replace Howard Jones as frontman. He told the crowd that “Always,” “goes out to anyone who has lost someone, so raise your glass high and get your pull on.”
The unrelenting insanity continued as the band plowed into a version of “Life To Lifeless,” that saw the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. All the while, fights were breaking out, people were being dragged out by security and battered fans limped away from the pit bloodied, bruised and broken. It was brutal and beautiful at the same time to see that kind of massive release of energy.
Leach dedicated “My Curse,” to all the ladies, saying “You are all my curse.” There were times during “My Last Seranade” and “The End of Heartache,” that the fans were singing so loud, that Leach just stood there and let them have at it. It was a thing of beauty to behold and at the end of their blistering set, Dutkiewicz took to the mic again, to say “We owe you guys the world, cause we are just a couple of idiots trying to make a living in music and to thank everyone for coming.”
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Last, but by no means least, was the Virginia powerhouse known as Lamb Of God. It was clear from the chants of the band’s name, as every song playing through the loudspeakers before their set faded, that the crowd was primed and ready for them to hit the stage and hit the stage they did, laying down a remorseless set of sweltering audio Prozac, including “Desolation,” “Walk With Me In Hell,” “Hourglass” and “Set To Fail.”
To help make things a little more intimate, there were stationary cameras positioned to give up close and personal shots of drumming machine Chris Adler and shots of the fretboards of guitar wizards Willie Adler and Mark Morton during their infamous solos.
To further enhance the experience, two giant video montiors had been added. They went back and forth between close ups of the band playing and a constant barrage of disturbing images to bombard your senses into submission. The videos ran the gamut from images of destruction of crumbling buildings, to images of atomic blasts and the destruction they cause, to images of war and military actions and the devastation it leaves behind.
Frontman Randy Blythe acts exactly like you would expect a recently uncaged beast would act. All the time directing the crowd like a metal maestro and launching himself repeatedly 10 feet into the air off of the drum riser.
He dedicated “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For” to the men and women of the US military, as the video monitors show their only positive images of the evening, photos of the Lamb Of God fans currently serving. Blythe went on to inform the crowd that they were much louder than Philladelphia was the night before and decides he will call them Hitsburgh from here on out.
They exited the stage very briefly. The backdrop changed and it was apparent from the pungent smell, now lofting through the air, that some fans heard Jill Janus of Huntress loud and clear when she told them to smoke weed. They returned to the stage to thunderous applause and kicked into a four song encore, that was prefaced by Blythe telling the crowd, “It’s time to make some fucking noise and start the biggest pit of the night.”
He went on to say, “If you’re not moshing or surfing, then you better be fucking jumping, so get those middle fingers up in the air,” before they blasted into “Laid To Rest” and crowd favorite “Redneck,” that saw the crowd singing along like there was no tomorrow.