With the onset of February we are getting a little busier. 2nd, Protest The Hero, 6th Del Amitri, 9th Molly Hatchet, 14th Monster Magnet, 15th Dream Theater, 19th, Sons Of Icarus, 20th Skyclad, 25th Soulfly, 26th Cadillac Three

And maybe a couple more to be added.

Friday, 17 January 2014

LAMB OF GOD, Decapitated, Huntress

When Huntress appeared on the scene with the release of 2012 album "Spell Eater" they garnered rather more column inches than the usual new band.

Most of this coverage seemed to fixate on singer Jill Janus. Watching them onstage tonight it is easy to see why. The band seem largely content to let Ms. Janus do her thing - and to be fair to her she does a grand job. Musically it is a straight ahead twin guitar metal assault, lifted ahead of the norm by the frontwoman. The title track of their album is perhaps the pick given that it moves things into a real over the top power metal type area, while "I Want To F**k You To Death", written by Lemmy, is better than it you think it might be, which neatly is a metaphor for the band itself.

Polish Death Metallers Decapitated are a welcome addition to the bill, not only are they are tighter than Donald Duck's backside, but they have overcome tremendous, heartbreaking tragedy to be here. In 2007 a bus crash left their drummer dead and singer in a coma. Most bands would call it a day.

These boys are made of sterner stuff, though, and in 2011 leader Wacław Kiełtyka put a new version of the outfit and they released a new album "Carnival Is Forever." They play four songs from that tonight and whilst death metal will never quite be our thing at RTM, Decapitated are good at what they do and musically superb - achieving bonus points for playing a superb version of Pantera's "Walk" as a soundcheck, which they do themselves with no roadies.

RTM saw Lamb of God twice in four days back in August. Once was a faltering display at Bloodstock, where everything that could have gone wrong did so, while the second was a stellar effort at the Wulfrun. 

Those were their only UK shows of 2013, now, though, they are back for a full tour, indeed one of the type that American groups used to do back in the day.

They are not, however, at full strength right now. Guitarist Mark Morton has stayed at home to sort some unspecified "family issues." He has been ably replaced, however, with LOG frontman D Randy Blythe explaining "we went on the internet and looked for a dude with long hair and a beard." They got one too, Paul Waggoner from RTM faves the experimentalists Between The Buried And Me, who slots in seamlessly. 

The setlist he plays is the same as last years, with a crushing "Desolation" kicking things off and taking in 75 minutes of monstrously heavy, yet accessible material before it concludes.

So we get "Walk With Me In Hell" and "Set To Fail" mixing with "Omertà" and "Black Label" to add up to a thrilling mix. All the while the crowd does, as per Blythe's instructions - invitation if you will - lose their minds. With "Redneck" every inch their anthem.

What makes the band so good live - awful Bloodstock effort apart - is Blythe himself. Whether he is just glad to be onstage after his legal troubles, or making up for lost time for his band is hard to tell, but he bounces, headbangs and runs his way through the set like a man on a serious mission - pausing only to thank Black Sabbath for inventing the music that created his job.

It's this sheer hard work that, rather like Pantera before them, people connect with and with a collection of songs this good, Lamb Of God can surely continue to grow.

This was a gig that, considering Blythe could have been in a Czech prison, and the awful things Decapitated had to cope with, might never have happened. You can only be glad it did.

Just one thing, though, Randy. Birmingham isn't in the Black Country. It is probably best to forgive this mistake, as it's the only one made tonight.

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