Drenching wet, save for my camera, I stood dripping under the canopy of the Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore. Umbrella or not, blocks of walking through the streets overflowing with water had left me and my fellow concert-goers far from dry. Our victory: standing in the presence of one another, and soon, of some stellar musicians under the safety of the awning overhead. Tonight would be one of metal, for we were about to embark upon a journey led by Behemoth, Lamb Of God, and Slayer.
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I had heard great things regarding The Satanist, the newest album from Polish metal band, Behemoth, and thus was excited to experience them trial by fire. Though I dabbled in a few songs prior to the show, I was largely approaching their music with virgin ears. Not only did I not burst into flames, but I was stunned by the sheer power exuded by these blood-coated individuals on stage. Nergal, the frontman of the group, roared out lyrics and waved an incense burner to properly acclimate the crowd, while low-ender, Orion, and lead guitarist, Seth, gave off devilish smiles and riffed out one dissonant chord after the next. Drummer, Jon Rice, filling in for regular percussionist, Inferno, pounded out one song after another, and I certainly had no complaints.
The Richmond, VA-based groove metalers, Lamb Of God, are the one act who played on July 28 which I probably knew best, especially considering I had reviewed their last full-length release, VII: Sturm und Drang. However, despite my love of their music, I had yet to see them in concert. I was not disappointed! Drawing most of their material from Sacrament, followed by the aforementioned album, the quintet launched through ten of their most recognized songs, even teasing a few seconds of Slayer’s “Raining Blood.” Throughout, vocalist Randy Blythe hurled himself through the air, belting out his signature guttural tones, while the Adler brothers, along with Mark Morton and John Campbell, created a sonic wall of destruction. They closed their 50 minute set out with the rhythmically infectious “Redneck,” and it was clear that the crowd would have loved an hour more.
As part of thrash metal’s Big Four, alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax, Slayer helped pioneer American thrash metal in the early 1980s. When I tried to induct myself into the leagues of Slayer fans years ago (when I first became a fan of Metallica and Megadeth), I didn’t see the appeal. However, with time my tastes has fluctuated, and upon listening to albums like Show No Mercy, Hell Awaits, and Reign In Blood recently, I’ve found that immersing myself in their music is greatly welcomed. And they were ever bit as intense as I imagined, ripping through an hour and a half of music at breakneck speeds, with guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt alternating through blistering solos.
Towards the end, someone attempted to yell at frontman and bassist, Tom Araya, between songs. Tom, unable to hear what the fan was saying, began moving his lips silently in reply. I couldn’t see the fan from my vantage point, but it seems someone thought a middle-finger was in order, which saw Araya smiling with the release of a few birds of his own. Next thing you know, the entire audience was waving middle-fingers in the air.
As a metal fan, I greatly enjoyed this show, and I would have been sorely disappointed had I missed it. While I was still far from dry by the time the last song rolled around, it was time well-spent, and you’d do well not to deprive yourself of the experience.