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Lamb of God create a headbanger's ball

In keeping with the city’s legacy for its romance with great rock concerts, USA’s progressive death metal band, Lamb of God headlined the Summer Storm Festival 2010, at the Palace grounds in Bangalore.

music Updated: May 17, 2010 14:09 IST
Sharin Bhatti
Sharin Bhatti
Hindustan Times

Lamb of GodMonsoon in Bangalore is literally musical. It starts with the building up of a crescendo, and breaks on the brink of enraging thunderstorms. But it never really rains. Rather, it contains the downpour. A lot like rock concerts in the city. Loud, promising of a grand moshpit mob and, of course, crazy fan attendance, and a pass out later.

In keeping with the city’s legacy for its romance with great rock concerts, USA’s progressive death metal band, Lamb of God headlined the Summer Storm Festival 2010, at the Palace grounds on Saturday evening.

Unleashing their demons
The last time Bangalore headbanged to serious rock was two years ago when Iron Maiden ripped the stage. Two years hence, rock was ready to roll. And as expected, the crowd was full, with a beeline of young, barely-out-of-their-teens rock fans who wore long hair, tattooed arms and Lamb of God T-shirts to push their frames into the barricades and almost threatening to damage property.

After Indian bands Bhoomi, Boomerang, Extinct Reflections and Mumbai band Scribe opened the show; the crowd had covered the enclosed expanse of the Palace Grounds, and were waiting to unleash their demons, when Lamb of God took stage. And that is exactly what happened.

By 7.30 pm, the venue was packed. Amidst tight security, the entrance was cluttered with confiscated lighters, cigarettes, ballpoint pens, belt buckles and wallet chains. The screaming began and the rousing mid-tempo instrumental, ‘The Passing’ announced the arrival of Lamb of God.

John Campbell, Chris Adler, Willie Adlier, Mark Morton and vocalist Randy Blythe rocked the stage for the next two-and-a-half hours, playing with their instruments and creating a literal headbanger’s ball to a crowd of 6,000 fans, who were passing out in exhilaration, and jumping over barricades in a moment of sure ecstacy. It almost seemed like a scene out of Woodstock.

When all hell broke loose Amidst the laser and light show and powerful sound, the band broke into ‘In your words,’ and that was when all hell broke loose. The bands repertoire included old anthems that each metalhead sang along, (Laid to rest,Ruin,Now you got something to die for,Walk with me in hell,Redneck,among others) and new songs (Set to fail,Contractor,Dead seeds, Broken hands’).

Vocalist Randy Blythe had a way of stirring the crowd into a frenzy, thanking them for inviting the band to this “awesome country”. “India, you guys are the s**t! We are so f***ing happy we came,” he roared.

Sunset gave away to dusk, dusk to twilight, the atmosphere cooled slightly, but the temperature of the crowd only rose. You would have to be a very dull person — a snob, or a sad cynic — to not enjoy this show. The sound was of symphonic scale, and of course, there was the spectacle, on and off stage — the sight of fans, arms aloft, singing every word of every song.

‘India? Who would’ve thought!’
Lamb of God looked forward to Indian vegetarian food and temple visits besides lending an ear to Indian indie bands
A day before the concert, expressive John Campbell, doodler Wille Adler (who made you a sketch when you sat to talk to him), the spokesperson Chris Adler, sleepyhead, jetlagged, Mark Morton and motormouth controversial Randy Blythe visited India to rip open a set in front of an eager beeline of desi headbangers.

Excerpts from the interview:

This is your first trip to India. You played the Southeast Asia tour three weeks ago. 16 years into being the biggest metal band there is, you finally made your way to the continent.

Were you at all surprised to be here?
Chris Adler:
Oh, you have no idea! We were superbly kicked about travelling to India. We got a tremendous response in Phillipines, and India is a place that’s always intrigued us. We’ve never heard any Indian band, but the fact that we have an audience here is exciting.

India didn’t seem like a place a lot of bands like us visit. During our early years, we would get a lot of fan mail from India, so we were aware of our fans, but really didn’t know promoters to get us here. Now, we are here.

Who would’ve thought we’d play in India?
John Campbell: In fact, we are really looking forward to eating some great Indian food. I’m a vegetarian and I have eaten packed paneer made in India. It’ll be fun to explore that as well. And the music here is progressive, I hear.

I believe that the bands opening for us are the new Indian wave of artistes. We’ve been called the new American metal wave when we started out. So, to promote growth like that here, would be great.

So you do have some high expectations from the crowd?
Randy Blythe : Yeah, three people will turn up (smirks).

Willie Adler : I’m sure you’ll be surprised with the turn out Randy, when they all mosh for you. You’ll need to step up your vocals (laughs)

JC: The crowd will be crazy. I have no doubt about that.

: Till the time we don’t get on stage, I don’t know what to expect, really. But we do know, we are known here.

You’ve been nominated for the Grammy twice, for Sacrament and for Wrath. For a niche metal cult, is that redemption?
: We don’t know about that. I mean, it was great to have the nominations, but we’ve been playing for 16 years, and it was always about developing a sound, and expressing ourselves. We are a metal band, we never wanted to be mainstream at all. It was all always about the music and the energy you derive from within and the crowd. As a band, we never really wanted to go in that direction to work towards a popular nomination. But it was definitely exciting.

Your last album, Wrath, which is your biggest selling record, released at the end of 2008, when the industry was going through recession. How do you think you achieved that success?
JC: Well, we’ve never been into major record labels anyway. Our first record came out on a friend’s label. Then, a small label, Prosthetic, came along and we’ve been steady with them for a long time. It’s just that when it comes to distribution out of USA, we go through other labels. These are small players and we didn’t mind going through them, since we know them and they let us take the complete creative control.

In the past 16 years, what have been the highest and lowest points in your career?
JC: Coming to India, honestly, is huge for us. The biggest crowd we’ve ever played was at the Download Festival in Europe, in front of some 70,000 people. We also did this run with Metallica, where we were playing every night for some 30,000 people. In fact, the crowd response was insane in Phillipines too.

JC: Lowest probably would be sitting broken down on the side of the road.

WA: Yeah, John was hit by a truck and that was a bad time for us.

CA: We have a curse of travel. Every single time we’ve gone anywhere, it becomes nearly impossible to reach that place. Even this trip was insane. We got stuck in Doha and our flight nearly got cancelled. We have two guys now with no luggage. The tour managers are clotheless (grins). We’ve missed many gigs owing to this travel curse.

Over all the albums, your sound has impeccably changed. What has been your biggest transition?
: It’s not transition. It’s evolution. We’re all growing as sound writers and the thing with metal is, you have all this plethora of experimentation with drum loops, distortions, leads, intros, vocals, where you can add themes, ideas, emotions.

For me, personally, when we were new, we were all showing off a bit.Now, we very much write for the song. We keep our signatures and egos aside, and do what is necessary, without trying to be fancy or selfish on song solos. We only show off now when it’s appropriate!

Where do you see metal progressing in the next couple of years, with indie being hot on the Internet and with new technological aids?
: When we grew up, I was listening to Metallica and Megadeth. And now, the kids have been listening to us. Over the past ten years, there have been crazy bands, different from anything we’ve ever heard before. But I still feel that it’s really all about the music and song at the end.

Some of these new bands might technically outplay us all. But it’ll still boil down to those who can play the song well, as averse to some mumbo jumbo on the guitar for the sake of it.

First Published: May 17, 2010 13:01 IST