Killswitch Engage & Lamb of God - Long Beach Arena
Mon, 17 Dec 2007 08:23:47
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"You quit lookin' at me, and back the fuck up, son! Move those motherfuckers back!" Devildriver frontman, Dez Farara, barked to a packed crowd at the Long Beach Arena, encouraging the audience to open up a circle pit. Then with a sinister smile he asked, "Are you ready to meet the wretched?" At that point, Devildriver fired off one of the heaviest salvos from their eponymous first album, and a massive mosh pit erupted across the entire arena. Elbows and fists flew, and the crowd became explosive. Believe it or not, despite this raw energy and pure power, Devildriver didn't headline this show. This was the co-headlining jaunt hosted by Killswitch Engage and Lamb of God, with Devildriver and Soilwork in tow.
However, Devildriver were by far the most annihilating. The band kicked off their set with the clean guitar intro of "End of the Line." It proved a foreboding beginning to a devastating set. Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer remain two of the best shredders of the new breed. They traded heavy, slicing riffs seamlessly on cuts like "Nothing’s Wrong" and "I Could Care Less." On "Not All Who Wander Are Lost," they churned out bone-smashing grooves that kept the crowd headbanging. Meanwhile, "The Axe Shall Fall" let drummer John Boecklin shine. He blended a light-speed, death metal virtuosity with a vibrant onstage charisma, while he pounded away at his kit. However, singer Fafara stood out. One of metal's most charismatic frontmen, he commanded the crowd like only a seasoned veteran of his caliber could. Fafara's the only guy on the bill that got to tour with Pantera. Since his days fronting Coal Chamber, he's been destroying arenas alongside the best. During "Clouds Over California" from Devildriver's phenomenal 2007 offering The Last Kind Words, he stalked the stage, delivering each note with a violence that would make the devil smile. Fafara's signature scream has never sounded more menacing. As he yelled the chorus, "I'm a saint, in Satan's eyes," one couldn’t help but agree.
After Devildriver, Killswitch Engage came out to a mash-up of Slayer's "Raining in Blood" and the A-Team theme. As always, they brought their swooping metalcore with humor and energy. Guitarist Adam D. donned a cape and ripped-up jeans. Par for the Killswitch course, he yelled obscenities in between songs, while running laps around the stage. Requisite hits like "Last Serenade" and "The End of Heartache" provoked sing-a-longs. "A Bid Farewell" hit with the urgency of the album cut. Overall, they played a fiery set of fan-favorites, plus their usual antics. Also, Killswitch closed it all out shredding through their outstanding cover of Dio's "Holy Diver," perfect for the big venue.
Headliners Lamb of God definitely slayed. From "Laid to Rest" to "Vigil," the band brought their Meshuggah-by-way-of-Slayer sound to the arena crowd with endless thrashing. However, there was never the same vibrant eruption that Devildriver riled up. Openers Soilwork were also equally consistent, stacking up the Swedish metal like only they can.
In the end, Devildriver really stole the show, because they connected with the crowd. They let everyone in the arena know it was time to pay attention; that connection makes or breaks a metal show. It also ensures that you're crowned a "saint in Satan’s eyes." That award aptly goes to Fafara and Co.