@ Newcastle o2 Academy, February 10 2010

After touring with Metallica for 25 dates at the end of last year, US band Lamb of God came to Newcastle for the second date of their UK tour hoping to live up to their big name and smash expectations.

On a night of much promise, metal-core band Between The Buried And Me were the first of three support acts to kick off the bill.  Combining thrash, prog and death metal, BTBAM lashed out a harsh screaming frenzy only to burst unexpectedly into soft melodic synths. Young Christian band August Burns Red resembled Enter Shikari in many ways but something was missing. Their repetitive breakdowns and incoherent splurge of lead guitar epitomized a monotonous performance.

Job For A Cowboy have toured with Lamb of God before and it was fair to say their set was entertaining.  The song Knee Deep got people going with its heavy stop-start guitars at the beginning which eventually fell into a speed thrash rage.

The chants for Lamb of God were soon satisfied after an epic build up led into some slow thuds of guitar. It was then they set the pace.  The thick set riffs of Set To Fail really got the engines going and the venue bouncing.  Lead vocalist Randy Blythe paced the stage booming guttural bellows and screeching yelps, while Mark Morton showed the fascinated crowd just how he could shred.

John Campbell’s bass playing and Chris Adler’s drumming was crucial in mustering the many brutal breakdowns that shook throughout.  It was in favourites like Laid To Rest and Redneck that the crowd were shaken most. Now You’ve Got Something To Die For had almost a Machine Head feel to it with twinges of Arch Enemy on lead guitar, but it was doused more in hardcore and punk elements.

Further and further in, Lamb of God’s set felt as if it wasn’t broken up by songs; that it was just one big song. With nothing but a small double act of rhythm and lead to break things up late in the set, it became harder to distinguish between songs.

Black Label finished the set in a menacing grind, and with the floor cleared it could only mean one thing; a wall of death to end the gig.

Lamb of God demonstrated that they are a good metal band.  But it doesn’t go much further than that.  What they did play was tight and there’s no doubt they are talented. But they must seek to broaden their horizons if they are to be truly among the greats of metal.

Calum Robson