UEA, Norwich March 11, 2023
by Niki Jones
Metal fans are nothing if not devoted.
By the time openers Heriot hit the stage at tonight’s sold-out show the place is wall to wall with battle-jacketed acolytes – and rightly so, because the Swindon outfit are a formidable force and one of the most exciting new prospects in extreme music, going toe to toe with the likes of Svalbard, Ithaca and Employed To Serve in the new groundswell of British metal bands.
The sound they produce is a claustrophobic blend of metalcore, death metal, sludge and around seven or eight other wonderfully horrible things.
Lead vocalists Debbie Gough and Jake Packer trade ear-piercing shrieks and guttural growls and even allow teases of melody to slip through the carnage.
Rhythms shift and mutate like Mastodon on a really, really bad day and everyone here looks like they’re glad they caught the earlier bus. Keep an eye on this lot…
Few bands can hit a stage quite like Lamb Of God. The opening strains of Memento Mori (from their 2022 self-titled album) coil the tension like a spring before exploding into an hour of some of the best riffs metal has to offer.
LoG have reached a point in their career where picking 14 songs from their epic back catalogue is a herculean task. A band who can throw Ruin and the gargantuan Walk With Me In Hell into the number two and three slots of a set with barely a breath just goes to show what a repertoire they have.
Guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton trade riffs like playing cards while the rhythm section of bassist John Campbell and new(ish) boy Art Cruz (filling the not unenviable shoes of the departed drummer Chris Adler with aplomb) keep things tight.
And then there’s Randy Blythe. A ball of kinetic energy, he prowls the stage like a caged animal and is one of metal’s great frontmen.
His stage banter belies his terrifying growl. He laments the passing of the Colman’s Museum (“I wanted to buy a fucking T-shirt, man!”) before dedicating Now You’ve Got Something To Die For to all the people who worked at the factory (perhaps somewhat overestimating our devotion to mustard, but the sentiment is appreciated).
He dedicates the crushing Omerta to Chester, the little dog he met while walking around the lake by the UEA and whose owner apparently didn’t appreciate his English accent.
By the time the iconic opening riff to Redneck fills our ears it’s hard to believe we’re coming to the end.
Fourteen songs hardly seems enough, but it will more than do.
Thanks for swinging by, guys! Sorry about the museum.