Date: 3/16/2007
Where: Toledo, OH
Venue: Headliners'

Bands of Note:

Headliner: Lamb of God

Trivium

Machine Head

Gojira

Is thrash making a comeback, or what? Okay, so some of you elitists may argue that the modern crop of 'post-thrash' bands are not nearly tr00 enough compared to the likes of über-brutal Sodom or Kreator. In any case, three-fourths of the bill, in some hybrid and/or sub-genre, has thrash present in their sound. The fourth, Gojira, is more of a progressive death metal outfit (with elements of multiple other sub-genres interspersed) that was none-the-less enjoyable.

In all fairness, I was really only familiar with half of the bill's entire catalogue, that being Trivium and Lamb of God. Machine Head I have not really heard at all and Gojira I listened to that morning in school. However, obviously it takes more than a once-through to get a band's material stuck in your head. Everyone knows that going to see a band who's material you are unfamiliar with is undoubtedly going to be a not-as-fun experience, so forgive my opinion if it seems skewed.

The affairs start off typical metal affair: that is, waiting outside in thirty-degree weather in a t-shirt and jeans for about twenty minutes. I thought this type of thing was only limited to the House of Blues and whenever Trivium played at a local venue, as all of the rest of the Cleveland area venues have never taken so long to let me in. I stand corrected.

In any case, due to arriving close to show time, by the time my group and I had got inside, Gojira was unfortunately finishing up their second-to-last song. This is going to sound hackneyed by now, but I couldn't help but see a young Metallica in Gojira. The French quartet was standing on stage, twin Gibson Vs, long hair, cut-off shirts, headbanging and enthusiasm with musicianship to match. These up-and-comers are evidently hungry and looking to prove themselves; it shows. I only got to hear "The Heaviest Matter of the Universe", but from what I observed, the sound quality was rather good and the band certainly got the crowd into it.

Up next was Machine Head. I regret that I knew no songs of this band from prior listen, and had only become acquainted with them via the music my iPod playlist was shuffling through on my way up to Toledo.  The sound, as seems to be the trend these days, was rather poorly mixed and sounded very muddy. In a band where the rhythm guitar is a primary instrument, it becomes crucial that it is articulate in the mix. Unfortunately for Machine Head, I could not really get into their set as the sounds sounded like a mass of guitar rather than meticulous, chunk riffs. Sorry guys, not your fault. I did, however, enjoy front man Robb Flynn's short pro-Pantera monologue about the website article that inspired a new song by the same title, called "Aesthetics of Hate". Funny aside: during Machine Head's set, some random guy climbed a support beam to raise the horns during the concert, jumped off, and landed on some red neck's girlfriend, causing a fight to ensue.

Third is Trivium. I'm not going to lament on how their coming onstage routine was a ripped-off, albeit cheesier, version of Metallica's entrance, because it was just as cliché the first time. Just as I had predicted earlier that night, Heafy and co. led off with "Entrance of the Conlagration", probably one of the better songs off of The Crusade. I was a bit surprised to hear their sound quality sound not as good as it was at the small club where I last saw them. You'd think with their no-doubt growing budget they would have higher-end equipment. Again, muddiness and poor mixing. The rest of their set was uninspired at best. Trivium played a shorter set with less varied songs than the previous time I saw them, and with not as much enthusiasm, either. Maybe Heafy only gets into it when he's headlining? At least they didn't break a cymbal or lose a contact...

The saying "save the best for last" truly seems to ring true here. Lamb of God is a band that has been continually growing on me. I've gone from only liking one album to liking and/or being familiar almost all of their material. Although I saw them once on the Unholy Alliance tour (with equally, if not more, terrible mixing), this time would wipe away any doubt I had of their live performance reputation. I will say, even the headliner, despite their fancy set-lighting, had a crappy sound. Luckily for me, I knew about 80% of the songs that were being played, so I could sort of fill in the missing fidelity in my mind's ear. Simply put, Lamb of God kicked ass. Randy Blythe, while perhaps not the most charismatic front man, did little talking and got the crowd into a frenzy on multiple occasions. Almost every song had more than one circle put going on at any given time. The riffs were heavy, the heads were banging, and LoG just put on a no frills, balls out, metal show that was just about perfect except for maybe going one or two songs too long. Before playing their last number, Blythe said to the crowd (paraphrased for your convenience): "This is gonna be our last song. We don't do encores; this isn't some fucking Limp Bizkit concert!" Classic.

Rating: ●●●●