Once again, the time has come for the Academy to be subjected to what is arguably the loudest tour of the year; this time led by metal titans, Lamb Of God. First up though are California’s Five Finger Death Punch, who sound about as awesome as their name; getting the crowd going for it straight from the off with their energetic stage presence.
Frontman Ivan Moody fits the bill well as the standard metal singer, beating his chest and keeping his middle finger raised for most of the set, while Matt Snell belts out crushing bass lines to go with his slightly more impressive beard. With plenty of brutality to keep the pretty exclusively metal crowd happy, the band throw in some more melodic, anthemic moments, particularly during ‘White Knuckles’.
Unearth are less interested in epic sounding choruses and more with simply destroying the place; earth shuddering double bass drums and some impressive technical guitar work sparking chaos down the front. They have a tough challenge making themselves memorable with what’s coming up next, but they succeed in delivering exactly what the crowd here tonight are after; heavy, uncompromising metal to tear the place apart to.
Next up, Dimmu Borgir change it up, providing a completely different atmosphere to the other bands on the bill. With their theatrical costumes and self proclaimed ‘blackest of black metal’ sound, the Norwegians’ set has the feel of a cross between a satanic ritual and a Lord of the Rings battlefield.
The inclusion of part of the Star Wars Imperial March feels a little out of place in the set, sounding a little too cheery alongside the bleak sound of ‘Reptile’ and ‘The Sacrilegious Scorn.’ The band succeed in pulling the crowd in with plenty of action to watch onstage, keeping attention despite presenting less opportunity for carnage in the pit.
Lamb Of God take it right back to basics; no frills, pure brutal metal. The crowd are with them before they even reach the stage, and are behind them all the way, roaring back every word. ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ sees the entire crowd moving, right back to the sound desk, while new offering ‘Set To Fail’ goes down a storm, the fans relishing the chance to get a preview of the new album. The set is packed with their followers’ favourites, ‘Something To Die For’ and ‘Redneck’ receiving roars of approval as everyone launches themselves into the nearest circle pit.
Finishing with ‘Black Label’, Randy Blythe warns anyone who doesn’t know what’s coming to get the hell out of the way as the entire room parts for a wall of death. This is no Lostprophets show, as anyone still left in its path is soon to discover. Tonight, the home of British heavy metal has seen what the rest of the world has to offer, and the faith Birmingham metal fans has surely been justified for another year.
Review – Helen Catchpowle
Photos – Steve Gerrard