Written by Steven
The music of Lamb of God demands a response, and that response is best executed by an audience who can lose their shit in the pit. So as humanity suffers from a global plague which has decimated the performing arts in a manner not experienced before, the ability for fans to provide a true metal music response is absent.
But in 2020, at least for artists, we are lucky to have social media … and that’s where a livestream event can occur to provide an opportunity for a band as big as LoG to meet the demands of their audience. And it is without doubt that their legion of fans were pumped to hear that there would be a 2-show livestream event for September.
This article is on the 1st of the two livestreams, which aired on 18 September from a small club in their hometown Richmond, Virginia, where the band ripped through a full live playthrough of their latest self titled album, as well as a 4 song encore (here is the setlist).
The stream platform was well structured, accessible, and with an entertaining pre-show. The warmup act, Scottish metal band Bleed From Within, came on first and played a 5 track set from a private venue in Scotland and pretty much smashed it. Visually they presented perfectly for this type of event, using their space to create a dynamic where the band could respond to each other. Vivid lighting, the occasional burst of flames and a video screen background all helped create an engaging performance that set the tone perfectly for the main act.
Prior to LoG taking the stage, vocalist Randy Blythe sat in for a pre-recorded interview where he discussed a few things, including how they’d never played a full album live before. It was interesting to hear him explain the difference between this concept and designing a typical live show. Also, his view that a LoG liveshow is everybody’s show, and that the crowd is part of the energy and the 2-way experience was really nice to hear.
The stream kicked off with some underlying menace due to the spoken intro of Memento Mori, and the style and intent of the livestream was revealed. The band was set up on a small stage, facing where the audience would usually be. The camera angles were directed in a way to try and put the viewer right at the front of the stage, with quick shot changes, and many tight cut-away sequences of the guys playing their instruments up close. This was cool to watch, although, as a guitarist myself, I would have liked to have seen all of Morton’s solos from start to finish.
The backdrop was a simple banner, the lighting was what you’d expect for an intimate live gig, with colours cycling through reds, green, blue, yellow and whites, and the stage was partially saturated by a hazy mist, typical of club gigs.
In terms of performance, the band killed it. Sonically they were excellent, with a genuine live feel that was mixed really well, and had just the right amount of reverb and delay, especially on Randy’s vocals.
There is a lot of thought and craft that goes into sequencing an album. The ebb and flow, and how one song sets things up for the next one to create a complete work of music is generally a high priority in the world of metal, given the scene is full of a very active bunch of collectors who crave physical media, maybe more so than any other music genre. To experience the full playing of this album from front to back was an enjoyable and unique experience.
Randy didn’t say much during the show, but after the 3rd track he welcomed the viewers to the “broadcast“, and then touchingly dedicated a song, Reality Bath, to Riley Gale of Power Trip (Rest in Power), explaining that the track was about “Truth to Power”.
Highlights for me were Checkmate, Routes (which lacked for nothing without Chuck Billy’s guest vocals), Bloodshot Eyes (with the clean singing working really well in a live performance setting) and the entire 4 song encore.
Considering the spectacle of a livestream event, the band presented in a way that enabled them to focus on musically delivering a masterclass of a performance, however, I also sensed a touch of melancholy with Randy, as he is the main conduit between the audience and band, and without a live crowd, the moments where the crowd can really get involved just weren’t there … As I mentioned earlier, the music of LoG demands a response.
The encore was great, and I noticed that the band seemed to interact more with each other during these songs, although I did not take Randy’s advice to “Destroy” my living room.
If you don’t have an audience in front of you, the energy comes from both the strength of the songs, and the connection to your bandmates. I hope for Act 2 of this livestream experience on the 25 September (a full playthrough of “Ashes of the Wake”), the guys aim to really enjoy themselves, feed off each other’s energy, and remember that the virtual audience, although a hidden part of the show, really just wants to see LoG having a blast … and smashing it!
Author’s Epilogue – As an Aussie metalhead from the 80s/ 90s, after metal went to shit following the grunge onslaught, I feared that the scene was finished. I actually stopped listening to Metal for a number of years, and then in 2003 my brother, who was the drummer for our own metal band back in the day, played me “As the Palaces Burn”. That was a genuine sign for me that metal was on the way back. Lamb of God had a fresh groove, they had heaviness, and they also were more like the metal I remembered and loved.