Concert Reviews

Last Night: Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage at Nokia Theatre

Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Devildriver and Soilwork December 8, 2007 Nokia Theatre

Better than: Watching the Children of Bodom DVD Chaos Ridden Years with your friends.

Download: Check our slideshow or take a look at our videos: Killswitch Engage performing "Breathe Life," Lamb of God playing "Laid to Rest" or Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Soilwork and Devildriver paying tribute to "Dimebag" Darrell Abbot by playing Pantera's "5 Minutes Alone."

Oh yeah: Joel Stroetzel of Killswitch Engage. (Matt Mueller)

Last Night's Lamb of God show was dedicated to “Dimebag” Darrell Abbot several times over. Metal brethren often like to dedicate a song or two to the slain Pantera and Damageplan guitarist, but Saturday was the three-year anniversary of his death. When the bands heard they would be playing Dallas, Dimebag's hometown, they wanted to step up. Devildriver frontman Dez Fafara (formerly of Coal Chamber) had all the lights in the building turned on, asked the entire room to “take a knee” and attempted to hold a moment of silence. Of course, a handful of people didn't quite get the concept and yelled out things like “Yeah, Dimebag!” during the moment. Disappointing. Luckily, the rest of the show was great.

Massachusetts' Killswitch Engage burst onto the stage following an intro of “Raining Blood” and the A-Team theme song. For those who have yet to see the band, the intro says it all – Killswitch plays metal, but don't take itself too seriously. For example, lead guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz donned a black cape speckled with gold stars (think: a metal Merlin) throughout the set. Frontman Howard Jones, however, was all business. He was already atop the lighting scaffolding in the first song (“Fixation on the Darkness”). His presence onstage demands attention, and Jones' ability to transition from throaty screams to smooth, pitch-perfect singing while bounding across the stage -- including an occasional somersault – never fails to impress. Plus, he makes a button-down tee metal.

Dutkiewicz dedicated “Rose of Sharyn,” a song about loss from 2004's End of Heartache, to Dimebag, saying: “Amazing dude. Amazing guitar player. God bless.” The audience took it to heart as fists pumped along with bassist Mike D'Antonio's infectious bassline for the entire song. Following some technical difficulties during “My Last Serenade,” the band requested crowd surfing for “End of Heartache.” Around 15 fans obliged, which isn't too bad considering the minimal pit area at Nokia. While the crowd enthusiastically sang parts of the chorus, it was apparent some were ready for Lamb of God.

Following a longer than usual set change, the room began to rumble and a screen lifted to reveal Lamb of God taking stage. The metal band from Richmond, Va., starts headbanging immediately and the crowd latched on, hitting every downbeat with a fist or flying hair. As vocalist Randy Blythe puts it, “We are here for one reason. We want to fuck shit up.” Well, fuck yeah. (Kind of goes hand-in-hand with thrash metal, right?)

The band attacked one powerful song after another including “Laid to Rest,” “Ruin” and “Pathetic.” Blythe dedicated “Walk With Me in Hell” to Lamb of God's road crew. (He taught the uninitiated that Motorhead coined the term with “(We Are The) Road Crew.”) The frontman then told the audience to jump, and the Nokia sea pogoed. Those not focused on jumping were surely drawn in by guitarist Willie Adler working the neck by picking feverishly on the high notes, then fluttering back up to the deep end. It's appropriate for Lamb of God to name check Motorhead as the band evokes the same straight-forward, “we will annhilate you” spirit. The group's chemistry and natural ease playing together cohesively is uplifting considering the backstage drama Lamb of God went through in 2005 on the live DVD Killadelphia (which I highly recommend).

The true highlight of the night was following Lamb of God's final song, “Blacken The Cursed Sun.” Two other drum kits were pulled out on stage, and the members of Soilwork, Killswitch Engage and Devildriver joined Lamb of God on stage to pay tribute to Dimebag by playing a bit of Pantera ("5 Minutes Alone"). While the sound sucked – too many guitars playing at the same time – the sentiment and energy overwhelmed.

In a time of fashion metal, it's comforting, if not encouraging, to see a band like Lamb of God rocking black band tees, long hair and playing thrash metal. -- Chelsea Ide

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Between New England Metal & Hardcore Festival and handfuls of other gigs, I've seen Lamb of God more times than I can remember. Plus, I've got four albums and change by the band on my iPod.

Random Detail: Killswitch Engage closed with a cover of Dio's “Holy Diver.” The band definitely made the song its own – complete with signature Killswitch guitar squeal. Whether it was a good move might be debatable. The crowd cheered its collective ass off.

By the Way: Lamb of God's Blythe let us know the band won't be back on tour until 2009, as the group will be writing and recording a new album in 2008. We're hoping it's better than Sacrament.

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Chelsea Mueller
Contact: Chelsea Mueller