Lamb of God, Anthrax, Deafheaven and Power Trip Lay Waste To Austin (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

The 2016 metal calendar has officially begun with a skull-punch from the indomitable lineup of Lamb of God, Anthrax, Deafheaven, and Power Trip, who all came through Austin’s ACL Live on Monday night. After headlines detailing a truck full of LoG’s and Anthrax’s equipment overturned on their way to Austin from Corpus Christi, there was some fear that the show might be cancelled. As LoG frontman Randy Blythe put it, “Our badass crew was able to put Humpty Dumpty back together so we could kick some ass tonight!” Faces melted, many a head was banged, scalps bled, and Austin metalheads were satiated with their metal-lust, if only for now.

Dallas-based Power Trip opened in their home state to a sparsely populated room.  Due to time constraints, Power Trip began their set at 5:45 PM, which was early for some just getting off work, but not for frontman Riley Gale who whipped those present into a frenzied mosh. Their Pantera-esque sound mixed speed and thrash into a perfect batch of Texas kindling to get the metal bonfire started for the night.

Deafheaven came on next, and although the crowd had only grown incrementally in size, the quintet awed the room with their epic shoegazed black metal. While these boys from the Bay Area are not always well liked by metal purists, it is more of a compliment than anything. Expounding on anachronistic metal sounds, Deafheaven is beautifying the landscape with intelligent and riveting sonic narratives. George Clark is one of the most electrifying and magnetic front men singing today, and from their newer opening track “Brought To Water” until their lung-bursting anthem “Dreamhouse”, they confidently ruled the room.

“We’ve been together for 35 years!”, screamed Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, a shocking notion considering their band is older than anyone in Deafheaven, but they are one of the ‘Big 4’ metal bands, and their influence is pervasive to say the least.  Anthrax did not show their age, as the energized Joey Belladonna led the rock veterans through “Caught In The Mosh” and a pounding cover or Trust’s “Antisocial”. Anthrax played “In The End” as a tribute to Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag Darrell before playing “Evil Twin”, an impressive track off their upcoming album. In classic 80’s thrash metal style, their set was pure adrenaline, with the legendary Scott Ian saying, “Do y’all love thrash metal? You’re welcome!”

Lamb of God would turn the entire venue on its head. Randy Blythe and his Virginian cohorts from Richmond elevated the metal show to an apocalyptic level in which it seemed like an ergot-induced hysteria had swept through the crowd, rendering a ubiquitous insanity. There is something pleasingly diabolical and downright sinister about Lamb of God that is galvanizing to be a part of. Songs like “Walk With Me In Hell”, “Blacken the Cursed Sun” and “The Faded Line” are tremendous, while also viscerally provocative. The song “Ruin” was played while Jim Jones and David Koresh video footage played behind them, which may have been the same video played for the rage-infected monkeys in 28 Days Later.

The swirling death pit of moshers, maniacally concocted and controlled by Blythe, was reminiscent of Orcs prepping for war in Mordor. Having spent time in a Czech prison for a manslaughter charge, Blythe and crew are back with a vengeance. Their new album VII: Sturm Und Drang has received Grammy nominations, and there is no question as to why.

Lamb of God decapitated the audience with an encore that consisted of “Vigil”, “Laid To Rest”, and the unadulterated juggernaut “Redneck”, in which the band literally opened a portal to hell. We may all be damned to burn for eternity, but if Lamb of God is playing, that might not be all that bad.

All photos by Maggie Boyd. 

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