Lamb of God / Dimmu Borgir / Unearth / Five Finger Death Punch

Brixton Academy, London on Sat 14th Feb 2009

If there's a more romantic way to spend Valentine's Day than with 4,000+ sweaty metalheads in South London, then eGigs doesn't want to hear about it. The fact that numerous drunken choruses of shouts, chants and even a Queen song or two are breaking out before showtime around the queue leading into Brixton Academy firmly underlines just how high spirits are on this most amorous of evenings, and with a scrummy feast of heavy f*cking metal to look forward to, a few poor souls are already looking the worse for wear. Still, that doesn't stop Five Finger Death Punch from attracting a surprisingly healthy audience at such an early stage of the evening, and while the LA quintet may have the goofiest moniker this side of Tennessee's Destroy Destroy Destroy, they're nonetheless one of the better opening acts that the Academy has seen of late.

They have nothing on Unearth though. Massachusetts metalcore heroes are more popular than ever these days after fourth album 'The March' proved to be one of 2008's best releases, and their commanding stage presence soon causes pandemonium in the pits. Vocalist Trevor Phillips is an intimidating but extremely likeable frontman, and his demands for more movement are duly met by a crowd that is being won over in spades. The group also benefit from the best sound of the night, with an aural thrashing that leaves as many ears ringing as fists pumping throughout the building, and the encouraging reactions to the mass majority of songs aired go as far to suggest that Unearth really do have it in them to be headlining venues of this size one day.

Dimmu Borgir are already at such a level, or so at least their own fans would have you believe. They certainly garner a great response when they hit the stage, but the general atmosphere seems to take a turn towards more subdued territories – something that is certainly not helped by the muddied sound, with the lead guitar and keyboard barely audible throughout the set. Sure, Dimmu are arguably the odd ones out on tonight's bill, but with such an immense back catalogue and tunes as mighty as 'The Sacrilegious Scorn', 'Spellbound (By The Devil)' and 'Kings of the Carnival Creation' at their disposal, the Norwegian black metal titans could have easily stolen the show tonight. Their slot is far from a disappointment, but it begs the question of whether they'll be able to take such venues for themselves when they next play these shores.

As it is, despite the evening being billed by many as a 'co-headliner' deal, there really is only one tonight, and it is Lamb of God. The reaction that greets their arrival on stage is almost frightening, and the Virginia bruisers happily respond with a stunning set that almost blows the roof off of the Academy.

Frontman Randy Blythe firmly consolidates his status as the Shaggy of metal (that's the Scooby Doo one, not the Reggae singer) by bounding around the stage like a demented wolf on acid, whipping up a frenzy in front of him and evidently loving every minute of it. The few tracks from the soon-to-be-released 'Wrath' that get an airing go down a treat and promise more great things are to come, but it is true metal anthems such as 'Walk With Me In Hell' and the ball-squeezingly chunky 'Redneck' that start riots in the crowd.

If metal really is back with a vengeance, then it will be bands like these that go the full distance, because on the evidence of tonight Lamb of God are already the success story of 2009, and with an appearance at the newly-christened Sonisphere already in the bag, only a fool would bet against Randy and the boys going supernova by the end of the year. Lamb of God hit Knebworth in August. Miss them at your peril.

article by: Merlin Alderslade

published: 16/02/2009 14:55

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