A metal bill of biblical proportions destroyed New York City on Friday night, packing Roseland Ballroom to absolute capacity with five straight hours of face-melting, head-bashing, neck-snapping heavy f*cking metal.
Ever since it was first announced in early August, Lamb of God’s fall tour had promised to bring massive destruction together with Killswitch Engage, old school thrashers Testatment, and up-and-comers Huntress. Fans waited outside Roseland’s famous facade for hours on Friday afternoon, many with the knowledge that it is likely to be one of the last metal shows to fill Roseland’s famous floor before its tragic April ‘14 sale (get the sad details here).
Huntress took the stage early, and cloaked singer Jill Janus whipped the gathering audience into a frenzy with an unchained ferocity. Janus, a New York native (read my recent interview with her right here), kept her hometown crowd moving and got an especially loud reaction for the Lemmy-penned “ballad” I Wanna F*ck You To Death. Ending their short set by encouraging everyone to smoke weed and offering free post-show hugs at their merch booth, Jill and Huntress were the perfect high energy opener for the night and definitely gained new fans in the process.
Testament was up next, and as the most veteran band on the bill, unleashed all-out metal madness into the growing audience. By the end of their set the floor of Roseland was already packed from front to back and multiple pits tore jagged circles in the middle of the crowd. Fans cheered wildly for guitarist Alex Skolnick each time he took a solo, and the band more than made the most of their eight song allotment. By the time Testament wrapped up with a crushing Over The Wall, ticketholders could’ve gone home fully satisfied just from their set alone.
But there’s no way in hell a single person left Roseland before Killswitch Engage took the night to the next level. Original singer Jessie Leach has now been back in the band for over a year and Killswitch plays like a reborn act. The band ran out on stage to Eye Of The Tiger, then ripped into The New Awakening to kick things off. Jessie leaned deep over the crowd while howling through his lyrics, and the always flamboyant Adam D. bounced around the stage in his classic short-shorts, shredding over guitar lines and egging on the fans.
Killswitch did a fair job sampling songs from each studio album like Rose of Sharyn, You Don’t Bleed For Me, and of course The End Of Heartache. It was awesome hearing Jessie’s take on Howard’s material (although their epic cover of Holy Diver is probably gone for good now), and KSE proved to be the perfect mix of aggression and genuine melody to warm up the audience for what would be a crowd-wrecking, no compromise set from Lamb of God.
It’s been just under a year since Lamb of God last played Roseland Ballroom (read my review of that insane show with Hatebreed and In Flames here), and if Friday night’s show proves to be their final night there, they more than did justice to their six year history of tearing up the 52nd Street venue. Few bands outside the Big 4 are capable of selling out venues like Roseland, but Lamb of God has been doing it since 2006 and never fail to thoroughly dominate every inch of the ballroom.
The band opened strong with new songs Desolation and Ghost Walking, and proceeded to rip through a dozen more favorites without ever letting up. Randy is one of the most intense frontmen in all of heavy metal, and he screamed his way through classics like Walk With Me In Hell and Set To Fail, twisting and hurling his entire body to project his raw vocal wrath. The floor shook with the energy of 2-3 individual mosh pits at any given time, and fans erupted all together for the crushing breakdowns of Laid To Rest and Now You’ve Got Something To Die For.
Halfway through the night, Randy took a minute to pay tribute to Roseland Ballroom, expressing his sorrow that with the band on the end of their current tour cycle, this would likely be their last visit to the venue. But fans were in for a major treat when he then broke out the first three songs from As The Palaces Burn to promote the newly remastered and re-released album, and even added in final track Vigil as a bonus.
The show finished, as it always does, with the one-two knockout punches of Redneck and Black Label. The floor exploded into a classic wall of death for Black Label and fans went absolutely apesh*t until distorted guitar chords finally throbbed to a close and the house lights came up. Speaking of knockout punches, those still outside the venue were also treated to a quality fan fistfight right on the 52nd Street barricades just minutes after the show, t-shirt bootleggers scampering out of the way as two worked-up fans punched each other into submission before their friends finally dragged them away.
Bar none, Friday night boasted the absolute heaviest tour that has hit New York City all year. Megadeth, Philip Anselmo, and the annual Mayhem Festival all hit hard, but none combined the sold out crowds, superior musicianship, and outright heavy metal brutality that Lamb of God packaged together with the help of Killswitch Engage, Testament and Huntress. LoG and KSE are the unqualified kings of their respective subgenres, while Testament’s old school authenticity was balanced by Huntress’s hungry energy and unique demonic appeal.
The tour actually returns this way again in less than a month, when it hits the newly rebuilt Starland Ballroom in New Jersey on Friday, November 22nd. With a fraction of Roseland’s capacity, fans should be sure to buy their tickets in advance or risk getting sold out. (Friday night’s tickets retailed for close to $100 on stubhub.com on the eve of the show.)
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