Decked out in bandanas and beneath a flurry of head banging, the five American thrashers explode upon the stage. First song ‘Demoralizer’ is welcomed with almighty cheers “It’s cold as shit in here!” exclaims singer Tony Foresta as he greets the Bristol crowd; this is no understatement, if it wasn’t for the sound of this band you’d probably be hearing well-over a thousand pairs of teeth chattering; there’s been snowfall today and the O2 air conditioning is happily trying replicate that weather inside. Guitarist Ryan Waste laughs as he realises the vocalist has somehow just inhaled his own hair and quickly takes over introduction of the next song ‘Breathe Grease’. It’s an onslaught of fast, heavy and highly entertaining Hardcore Thrash as you would expect from these guys and it’s impossible to watch the crazy yet affable characters rampage around the stage without breaking into a grin. The band members seem to have received the forget-the-sleeves-but-wear-the-studs memo, apart from TF, he’s sporting a very ‘90s T-shirt over a long-sleeve ensemble and a second bandana worn as a scarf brings an animalistic air that matches his behaviour, not least when he raises a rubbish bin high above his head (where did he find that?) and defiantly launches it smack bang into the centre of the rabid circle pit. It’s fair to say the crowd are roused from the start. ‘The Thrashin’ of the Christ’ gets a swift dedication to the next support band Kreator with bassist Philip ‘Land Phil’ Hall taking on more of the vocal duties for this one. ‘Poison the Preacher’ builds on the already strong crowd interaction there are plenty of double fist punches, bared chests and crowd surfers by the time ‘Wave of Death’ rolls in. It’s a full-on fun show that really feels as though it’s over far too quickly and the repeated chant of “Municipal Waste Gonna Fuck You Up!” in final song ‘Born To Party’ couldn’t be more fitting.
Kreator’s set has a much more serious tone and builds a picture full of danger and war with a solid thud of beats hammered out on a logo-plastered kit that pushes the music deep into the arteries of all inside tonight’s packed out venue. The lighting for this set alternates between stark white, washed out blues and scarlet red. Crowd participation feels like a big deal for Kreator with singer Miland “Mille” Petrozza raising his arms with double horns between each song as he delivers some drawn out and echoey introductions whilst conducting the collective energy into each song. He wants total chaos and the crowd are willing to bring it, moving at times as one giant nodding mass. The German count-in to ‘Enemy Of God?’ serves to further energize the audience, as does the speedy switching of musician playing positions across the stage. All fans are going to get a fair view to witness every band member’s talent, no-matter where they find themselves sandwiched. Drummer Jürgen “Ventor” Reil is positioned high enough for his ‘Destroy them’ emblazoned t-shirt and the severed head suspended from his kit to be clearly visible, this also unfortunately means that an airborne pint also narrowly misses his head just as a 666 is burning in the sky, though to his credit he doesn’t bat an eyelid, much less lose a beat.
Eerie bell chimes herald the start of anthem ‘Satan Is Real’and the impaled mannequins either side of stage are draped in flame-red robes, perhaps serving as a warning to anyone who may dare to disagree. The experience and creative force of this band shines through, be it demonic or not, their die-hard fans an agreeable bunch happy to remind “KRE-A-TOR” of their name during guitar changes and suchlike. It’s soon time to raise the ‘Flag of Hate’ quite literally in MP’s case as he swoops it in front of him whilst asking “how many old school metal heads are here?” and from the pit reaction, the answer is a LOT! Two glowing-spear-wielding skeletal guards make a cameo to guard the stage from invasion before the doomier ‘Violent Revolution’takes hold and final song ‘Pleasure To Kill’ delivers the bands final blow-out of pure fast Thrash Metal to the blood hungry masses.
As the O2 is plunged into darkness Lamb Of God is ordered by a rhythmic crowd chant. The subtle spoken word of ‘Memento Mori’ begins amidst twinkling spotlights that project around the venue; the silver sheen of the drum kit teasingly visible. Having taken the opportunity to creep onto the stage in the shadows the music begins with no holding back, Randy Blythe’s dreads are flailing and it’s “Let’s go Bristol!” The crowd is singing from the off and beer is spilled but apologies are furnished, as mentioned before, this crowd of metal-soaked lunatics are polite! Invited to “Take a’ Walk With Me In Hell’” the whole of the downstairs floor is bouncing. Lamb Of God possess a high energy and it’s as though the energy of RB’s leaping about on stage is being piped via conduit into the room, his long legs projecting him into the air like a springbok. ‘Resurrection Man’ has the band contorting their faces as the words and insane guitar notes satiate the understandably excited crowd; three years of waiting for this tour has had everybody chomping at the bit, so perhaps that’s another reason for the shivers earlier? Something is launched at the stage as the band begin the booms of fierce song ‘Ditch’ but RB simply continues to swing the microphone cord like a conical pendulum, proving he really doesn’t give a goddamn, in fact a generous amount of gear (plectrums and drumsticks) are tossed right back out in return.
Midpoint of the set has ‘Now You’ve Got Something to DieFor’ and ‘Contractor’ providing a chance for more seething emotion all-round with possibly the highest number of crowd surfers yet, the majority of them feet-first. There are mass crowd sing-a-longs whilst flashes beat out from beneath the scaffold of the drum kit like headlights and guitars are tortured to their limits. The stage darkens again and instruments are changed in relative silence, this soon broken by the somewhat poetic declaration at the beginning of ‘Omerta’ which is obediently narrated by the fans too. The slower pumping riff of this song gives perfect chance for some intense body shapes and deep growls from RB, and he parades the stage in the way any self-respecting Metaller would, given the opportunity but it is purely the band’s privilege tonight as security are performing a constant motion of catch-and-release with the next wave of bodies hurtling towards them. One security guard on duty tonight – Rachel – gets a shout out from RB for her professional approach (that one time RB forgot his stage pass at Bloodstock – there’s a video on the internet) ‘512’ is dedicated to her as he thanks her for doing her job. ‘Laid To Rest’ serves up another slab of enjoyable excellence and there’s such a great atmosphere in this place tonight that when final song ‘Redneck’ is delivered you can feel that the entire audience just wants another invitation to see Lamb Of God play Bristol again as soon as possible!
To buy tickets, contact box offices or order online here. Fans can also purchase an add-on VIP package for their ticket at: https://bit.ly/LambOfGodVIP – please note, this does not include a ticket to the show, your ticket must be purchased separately. There are two options available, with a limited quantity available per date.