Review by Sheri Bicheno for MPM
Three years of waiting for the rescheduled State Of Unrest tour that was put together originally for 2020 – man, what a long awaited treat that was always gonna be.
A magnificent leviathan is created by Essen’s long living legends Kreator and all time favourites Lamb of God to deliver a tour to send shock waves through the land.
With the rescheduled dates adding LoG’s fellow Virginian’s answer to thrash, Municipal Waste, and a string of sold out shows to boot, this was always going to be one of the most brutal looking shows of 2023.
I wasn’t wrong.
Stepping into the Birmingham o2 Academy, the place is brimful – and I mean positively stuffed, with people who have been waiting eagerly for this tour.
The energy here is a lot different tonight than that of many other shows of been to at this venue, there’s not just hype and excitement, but an almost threatening tone in the air of something pretty chaotic about to happen.
Municipal Waste take to the stage and the roar from the crowd was…as if we’re in a full blown arena! The winding riffs thunder in with first speed bullet track Demoralizer – an old school thrash track released ironically, last year on the new album Electrified Brain.
Tony Foresta’s barking vocals are commanding and clear, there’s no easing into the show – we’re being hammered with brutal thundering riffs and winding momentums of solo’s before a crashing finish amongst a the devastation of the evening’s first pit in the crowd.
Breathe Grease enters riffs that are energetic but combine different speeds from both Ryan Waste and Nick “Nikropolis” Poulos where Ryan crashes in with kickstarting riffs and Nikropolis provides the melody structure that entwine with the thrashing kit that Dave Wittle wields.
The fun and jumpy riff that comes echoing in with the change up of pace ends the song with a short and sweet stop and then the lights go dim.
Tony welcomes all to the show, not just a few months previously the Wasters were stirring chaos with Anthrax and so the hype leading up to State Of Unrest before they started the tour has been underway. There are edges of warmth and humour from these guys and so kickstarts a good evening interaction with their crowd.
2005’s Mind Eraser thunders out from the stage with a blizzard of frantic and crunching riffs, barking vocals and here, is where I can really get to grips with ‘Land Phil’s’ low frequencies. His basswork is sludgy and kneads through the track with an immense amount of speed.
This track is catchy with Exodus style crunchy riffs and see’s the crowd jumping about with body surfers all over the place!
One thing I like about Municipal Waste is their ability to mish-mash and make things fun from their short and spiky tracks during their sets. Our first taster of this was from Thrashin’ of the Christ/Poison The Preacher and came through like a pneumatic jackhammer grinding into the crowd.
A couple more tracks from the new album were present… Grave Dive provides monstrous pathways of riffs and High Speed Steel gave off more of a punk thrash edge with a speedy riff and fun fret slides but an equally rapid beating frenzy of the kit.
Wave Of Death is a blatant favourite of many in the crowd. This track has elements of death metal with Munciupal Waste’s signature thrashing, the step down riffs and speedy melodies highlights the chuggy bass on this track. Dave absolutely kills on this track.
The speed of his footwork along with the bass makes this track pretty brutal and fun to throw yourself around to.
‘Municipal Waste Gonna F*ck You Up!’ chants reverberated through the halls of the o2. Born To Party – enter huge beats that echoed from the stage and vibrates through your skeleton to end the set on a spectacular high in ready for….
“RUN TO THE HILLS!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!”
The stage goes black and we’re swamped in darkness and hues of blue strobes whilst Iron Maiden’s most well known echoes through the stage.
Two figures are impaled onto standing stakes on either end of the stage and finally, a long and trembling wail from none other than Miland “Mille” Petrozza rumbles into the darkness, marking the entrance of Germany’s Kreator.
Hate Uber Alles taken from the newest album of the same name absolutely punches the intro with majestically huge and powerful riffs running alongside Jürgen “Ventor” Reil absolutely reigning the pedals of the kit.
The scratching riffs of Hail To The Hordes tremble through – Mille’s vocals are powerful and commanding through this war marching track, echoing out amongst a destructive combination of marching riffs and uplifting melodies that blossom into a beautiful and powerful guitar solo flourishing some phenomenal energy!!
“BIRMINGHAM!” Mille addresses the crowd.
“THE KREATOR… HAS RETURNED!”
That set of pipes bellows out across us all and we have a moment in suspense before Mille commands the place to see to it’s first wall of death of the night. He divides the crowd and primes the moment before counting to 4 in German.
Then the bullet speed riff and double bass pedals create an absolute scene of a collision of bodies and beer flying all over the bloody place trembling the walls of the o2 for Enemy Of God.
The energy is insane, people around me are going insane… the skull crushing vocals and Ventor’s completely maddening footwork on those pedals keep the momentum before a striking monster riff comes crashing in from both Mille and Sami Yli-Sirniö.
The guitars have a skill of running over eachother and working together beautifully to set a choppy and marching riff with pathways branching off into tempo changes and different energetic moods to this live track tighten things up a notch before the crunching sonic vibes kick in for Phobia.
“Is there something after you?” comes as a chant, weaving with the choppy and energetic guitar riffs. The drums are tight but steady and see’s the crowd headbanging with a vengeance.
Bell chimes ring out across the crowd and a gorgeously filthy melody rolls out, keeping a subtle but very empowering bassline from Frédéric Leclercq.
This is one of my favourite Kreator tracks of the night…. Satan Is Real never fails to bring the energy together in a live set.
The dangerously edged riffs and winding melodies mold together to hold the strength of Mille’s vocal range in this track. He almost chants the chorus out and changes up the direction of his harsh and clean tone to inject more energy into his message.
The o2 is loving it. “KREATOR! KREATOR!”
Stage lights throb subtly to the crowd and the guys stand humbly and explain “It feels fantastic to play for you people again.
You’re Birmingham. We are Kreator. And you people here in Birmingham tonight are the Hordes of Chaos…”
A beautiful twinning of melodies ring out and fuel the powerful mood infused into Hordes. The guitars are skippy and run alongside the momentum of the fast paced and ever changing tempo of the drums. The melody is maddening!!
Red strobes fill the stage and then dim down to a dark stage with a menacing red glow before Mille addresses the crowd once more.
“Thank you for waiting three years. We wrote this song to kick off this tour when we originally booked it…”
The walls of the o2 glow and the whole crowd is united into a frenzy for the punchy and brutal riffs of 666 World Divided.
The melodies are a little more melodic in this track and though has the same thrashing vibe, this gives a bit more of a melancholic feel…and it creates a mood everyone seems to appreciate and share around me. Fist pumping and singalong tracks like these are always a marvel to behold.
Waving the Flag Of Hate around the stage, the crowd is asked “How many old school metal heads are in the show tonight? 100 people at the front here know what’s up. But what about at the back and balconies?”
Mille raises the flag and the gunshot riffs and beats blast out instantly. No escape. The pit goes mental and the place is filled with people going insane!
Masked spearholders enter the side of the stage next to the impaled figures and we’re taken through a dark and melodic riff, the stage blackens with just one light shining from the side and creates a silhouette against an incoming body surfer to the melody.
Its a stunning scene really.
Last track Pleasure To Kill ends the Kreator set with some absolutely maddening speed riffing and thrashing of the kit within an inch if it’s life! The footwork that Ventor puts in as absolutely phenomenal. Combining this with the evil monster riffs and demonic vocals leaves everyone well oiled for what’s coming next…
The backdrop of new artwork from very recently released Omens shimmers in the darkened stage and once again, the lights are low waiting for the height of the evening to take to the stage.
Now let me be clear… As Lamb of God are one of my most loved artists, I have so many precious memories attached to these guys and have seen them perform 20+ times – with never, not once, ever less than an energy infusing, fantastic show.
I have seen what I interpret to be a lot of their evolvement over the years, as has many of us. I will never not absorb and love what these guys do with every fibre of my musical heart.
Knowing what’s coming still doesn’t prepare you for what you’re about to get. There are never any boring parts to seeing these guys so many times nor watching their craft continue to flourish and thrive through the years.
With the stage darkened and the beautiful cooling colours of the aforementioned Omens backdrop shimmering into the crowd, silhouettes start to form and the low chimes of the ever so familiar intro and spoken words softly call out:
“By the darkest river, beneath the leafless trees
I think I’m drowning, this dream is killing me…
(Wake up, wake up, wake up)
In the coldest winter, between the fading lights
I feel I’m falling into a frozen sky
(Wake up, wake up, wake up)
Past the blackest heaven, above the dying stars
I watch me breaking into a million shards
(Wake up, wake up, wake up)
But through the hardest hour, below the cruelest sign
I know I’m waking up from this wretched lie
(Wake up, wake up)”
You know what’s coming next…
And there on queue, Randy Blythe jumps into the middle of stage and the energy shifts into a completely different dimension.
Memento Mori is encased in so much commanding and aggressive energy but takes your senses to all corners of different moods… and this crowd in Birmingham did NOT have that fall on deaf ears.
The whole floor trembled, there were bodies, beer and heads literally thrown in every direction of the o2. A sea of chaos at the feet of these guys,
The riffs are thrashing and tidal, pulling you in different directions and the blast beating from the get go demands pure and unapologetic steering of the dynamics in this, frankly, bloody wonderful intro track.
Nostalgia fills the air (along with several more bodies flying around) and one of the largest pits i’ve ever seen in this venue opens up the SECOND that interbleeding riff of Walk With Me In Hell starts building up.
This is actual debauchery at my feet.
Everyone is immersed…the vocals that Randy continues to deliver are astonishing. The lowly growling gutturals to the high pitched screech in this track is just as absorbing as the first time I heard them on New American Gospel at the fresh age of 12. Sheesh…
We hold on for a few moments, Randy stops the show to ask for help as someone in the pit had been injured or knocked down, which as he has forever been known for, is fantastic.
Whilst we stop, he humours us with a list of British words he finds hilarious,,,
“There are words that you guys use over here that I love and I think are hilarious…
W*nker.” (The crowd cheers)
“Bloke” (The crowd cheers)
“Geezer” (Hugest cheer from the crowd)
“Wellies” and there we have it… he has the crowd p*ssing themselves with laughter.
Eventually he cheers the person on who had their blip and gives the OK and gets back into Walk With Me In Hell and there’s no messing about… Mark Morton riffs in and the chaos ensues.
Nostalgia continues with the pummeling riffs from Willie Adler entwining with Mark to deliver the maddening vibes of Ruin. The catchy and choppy paces see’s Randy pacing the stage and headbanging through the pace and tempo change up during this track which goes from speeding tidal waves to granite beating slow and hard-esque riffing and drum blasts.
One of the last few years more recent tracks Resurrection Man starts in a gentle and eerie tone and that intro is cut short by our FIRST DISGUSTAN BLEGH by Randy. This track is a catchy riff galore before colliding into a crunching and slow absolutely filthy riff that takes John Campbell’s bass into a frenzied low frequency head banging experience.
An absolutely crushing experience of riffs and blast beats collide with each other before Randy screams at pause WELL I DONT GIVE A GOD DAMN… (About your demands) and then BAM… a rainfall of blistering melodies and riffs melt into a catchy chorus of Ditch – a brand new song taken from brand new album Omens before the pit opens up for the chaotic vibes from the stage that ALWAYS seeps from Now You’ve Got Something To Die For.
This is another track where Art Cruz really shines. The kitwork on this track is insane… one of the original songs where I really paid attention to what was going with the production of drums and how things came together was certainly on this track when I was a youngster…and Art masters this flawlessly.
The track is of course, pretty iconic amongst LoG fans but feeling this track in its live glory, feeling the complete vibrations that shake the ground from this track is an absolute experience.
I love that Lamb of God are never afraid of revisiting nostalgic and older tracks in their current sets to go hand in hand nicely with newer tracks. As we’ve had the pandemic and they’ve been one of the consistent bands to release music throughout the lockdowns and post pandemic, we still see tracks that are just as important as the newer tracks in their recent sets… Contractor boulders into the set along with 11th Hour and Laid To Rest to follow up, leaving older Lamb of God fans with something to still keep those memories fresh and alive whilst Omerta is one of my favourites – it constantly rips through as a pit starting headbanger.
Omens is a new track and makes it’s appearance ripping through the middle of the set. It combines so much tone and energy of different blast beats and grinding riffs to tell us to open our eyes, even suggesting it’s just too late.
The point of human apathy is gone. Randy delivers his vocals in an echo of booming dynamics and always maintaining SO MUCH energy on stage. Though – this is reflected back to him by the crowd in the o2.
You can’t deny the emotion behind 512 when it’s there in front of you. It’s always a moving track to see live when you can see the unity behind the crowd mirroring it back to the stage. Chugging riffs and low basslines make up a huge part of this tracks emotions which pre empt us a couple tracks away from the final offering of the night.
Is it even a Lamb of God set in this worlds age if the almighty Redneck isn’t included?
We’re taken through a tumble through those twisty asf riffs and crushing vocals that end the night on a high of energy and a rush of memories.
This was one of the most insane Lamb of God shows I’ve ever been to.
Three years in the making with a strong line up that without a doubt, showed that they enjoyed playing and made sure nobody forgot that they are all masters of their craft for a reason.
I left with a skip in my step and that energy I’ve just witnessed floating through me.
Best night in a while.