“Look at all of you motherfuckers,” said singer Randy Blythe by way of thanking the attendees. “It’s a Monday, and you’re all here.”
Meanwhile, Anthrax showed its love for two metal legends that are no longer here: Ronnie James Dio and Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott. With a tapestry of Dio hanging at stage right and one of Dimebag at stage left, the band played the tribute song from its Worship Music album that it wrote for both deceased musicians, “In the End.” This kind of celebratory spirit is what Anthrax has always been about. Whether it's a heavy-hearted requiem that’s bracketed with mournful church bells, apocalypse-inspired rumblers like “Fight Em’ Til You Can’t” and “Among the Living” or declarative statements like “Antisocial” and “Caught in a Mosh,” Anthrax’s ground zero of inspiration comes from praising the arts of thrash and rebellion. After 35 years, it’s still performing with exuberance and fortitude, with bassist Frank Bello and guitarist Scott Ian jacked up on enough enthusiasm to carry the whole audience.
While Anthrax can’t hide the grin it wears while giving the world the finger, Lamb of God is not smiling. At all. This act has a scowl permanently etched on its face as it intently points out the nihilism and self-destruction that seems inherent in the world. The opening video footage for its set consisted of buildings collapsing from controlled demolition, and throughout the night the visuals were a refresher course in man-made tragedies.
The Anthrax shout-out that was “Ruin” -- which actually sounded like it could destroy someone if the song’s decibels and ferocity were physical weapons -- was supplemented with images from the Jonestown Massacre, the burning Branch Davidian compound and followers of Charles Manson; “Walk With Me in Hell,” a track filled with menace, was illustrated with photos of the nuclear bombs. Personal tragedies were part of the show, too: “512” and “Still Echoes,” the two tracks from last year’s Sturm Und Drang that documented Blythe’s six-week imprisonment in the Czech Republic, were also performed. “This is about the unpleasant place I got put a while ago,” was all Blythe said to introduce the latter track, letting its raw, stinging guitar and pounding rhythms express how he felt about the experience.
SLamb of God continued to lay aural waste with “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For,” “Set to Fail,” “Blacken the Cursed Sun” and “Erase This,” its noise level reverberating as if the band was an orchestra instead of a quintet. It was the sound of acerbic defiance and cathartic confrontation, from the instrumental introduction to the finale of “Redneck.” It was also the sound of a band that knows who it is, and the path it traveled to get there.
Lamb of God - Hammerstein Ballroom Album Review