LIVE PHOTOS: Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament, Napalm Death
Review by Greg Maki
It turns out that when you remove Slayer from the bill of its farewell tour, you’re still left with one of the best metal shows imaginable. On a scheduled day off for the thrash legends, Lamb of God stepped up as headliner at the Fillmore Silver Spring, preceded on the stage by three giants of the genre.
The godfather of grindcore, Napalm Death, was up first. Going on before a sparse crowd at the early hour of 6 p.m., the English act founded in 1981 did the best it could under less than ideal conditions. Playing short blasts of fury that are virtually indistinguishable from each other to the untrained ear, the band managed to elicit something of a response from the early-arriving fans.
Testament, with a history dating to 1983, had a much better go of it. With guitarist Alex Skolnick and drummer Gene Hoglan, the band boasted arguably the two most talented musicians on the bill. Though a somewhat muddy sound mix did them no favors, the classic Bay Area thrash sound clearly was in the sweet spot for a large chunk of the growing crowd.
The venue was nearly full by the time Anthrax took the stage. Also founded in 1981, the band has been on fire since vocalist Joey Belladonna returned to the fold in 2010, playing with the passion of a band still fighting to make a name for itself rather than an act that long ago established its place in heavy metal history. This night was no different, with guitarist Scott Ian, bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante showing they remain one of the tightest rhythm sections around, lead guitarist Jonathan Donais lighting the place on fire with his solos and Belladonna seemingly having more fun than anyone else in the building.
If I have a criticism, it’s that it’s past time for the band to change up the set list—it’s been largely the same for the past few years, and including two covers, even if they are Anthrax classics, in a 45-minute set doesn’t seem like the wisest decision. It’s a minor quibble, though; I’ll still see Anthrax any chance I get.
ANTHRAX SET LIST: “Caught in a Mosh,” “Got the Time,” “Madhouse,” “Evil Twin,” “Be All End All,” “Antisocial,” “Indians”
Having formed in 1994, Lamb of God were the “young’uns” on the bill but clearly the main draw for most of those in attendance. Based in neighboring Virginia, the band has been a frequent visitor to Maryland over the years. (As he says at every show here, frontman Randy Blythe was born in this state.)
With fog billowing across a stage filled with moody, murky lighting, the band ripped through a brutal 75-minute set, providing no respite from its metallic onslaught—not even a break for an encore. Blythe was a volatile whirlwind of energy, dreadlocks whipping about as he headbanged and leaped about the stage.
For unspecified reasons, drummer Chris Adler is sitting out this leg of the tour. He’s been replaced by Art Cruz (Prong, Winds of Plague), and while he might not have been as precise as Adler—but seriously, who is?—his performance was commendable given what undoubtedly was a short amount of prep time.
LAMB OF GOD SET LIST: “Omerta,” “Ruin,” “512,” “Hourglass,” “Engage the Fear Machine,” “As the Palaces Burn,” “Walk with Me in Hell,” “Descending,” “Now You’ve Got Something to Die for,” “Still Echoes,” “Blacken the Cursed Sun,” “Inherit the Earth,” “Laid to Rest,” “Redneck”