As of this writing, the music world continues to be in a state of suspended animation as the Coronavirus outbreak – particularly in North America – dashes any hopes of returning to music venues anytime soon. We’ve bungled the pandemic so poorly here in the states that our moron President and many of his colleagues have been diagnosed with the disease due to failure to follow social distancing measures. Having fans in attendance is starting to seem like a thing of the past, so more and more artists will start turning to live-streamed performances.
And that’s not a bad thing. Given the choice between sitting at home with depression creeping around the corner and a pantry full of liquor or watching Lamb of God perform a modern classic, I’m always going with the latter. Does it take getting used to no audience reaction or participation? Absolutely. Does it make you miss your favorite concert hall and or clubs? Yep. But at the end of the day, Lamb of God is still one of the best bands in the genre and in my experience has yet to put on a flat performance.
It helps that there was an extra incentive in this Virginia unit playing arguably their best album in its entirety. For context, Ashes of the Wake was Lamb of God’s scathing indictment of George Bush and the mess his administration dropped all over the Middle East with two seemingly never-ending wars. Oh, and Ashes also happened to be their major-label debut for Epic Records. It’s always worth remembering the importance of a good first impression. It was an album chock full of searing riffs from Willie Adler and Mark Morton and the only thing that cut deeper than those licks were Randy Blythe’s acidic vocals with lines like: “Your beatings will continue until my morale improves. I don’t hate you; I’m just removing an enemy. Remorse is for the dead.”
Here we are sixteen years later and that same contempt for authority figures and deranged patriotism still holds up strongly today. It’s as if the United States is doomed to continue to make an ass out of itself on the world stage and Lamb of God is more than happy to say we told you so. For that hour and change, I got to forget a bit about the external chaos and political noise and just breathe in one of the best metal offerings of the last twenty years. It’s hard to be upset when ‘The Faded Line’ and ‘Omerta’ make you consider starting a circle pit with your pets in the middle of your room. And to cap the evening off, some vintage selections such as ‘The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion’ and ‘Black Label’ were played off the underappreciated New American Gospel. Now that’s class.
I’d kill to be able to catch a show at The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts with the dudes again. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, so I’ll gladly take these online shows. Certainly, better than the alternative.