We head to Wembley Arena to take in three of the finest heavy metal bands on the planet with Lamb Of God, Kreator and Sylosis all adding to a mouthwatering bill.
It is a quite an early start this evening and the Wembley area is awash with metalheads for the London date on the State Of Unrest Tour.
Big queues greet me as I arrive and there is a palpable air of expectation in the air, this gig was originally scheduled 3 years ago so it has been quite a long while coming with cancellations and venue moves. With three class acts on the bill, Lamb Of God, Kreator and Sylosis, I have prepared myself and, more specifically my ears, for a good pummelling!
So first up are Sylosis. While the band was formed well over a decade ago, the fact that main man Josh Middleton was recruited into the Architects (to replace the late Tom Searle) meant that they have not been that active over the last few years, actually taking a complete break around 2016 until 2019. Since then we’ve had one album and a handful of singles, with, I guess, the pull of being in two major bands being quite a strain with regards time commitments.
However, the latest work from Sylosis holds up to scrutiny and definitely does not feel like a side project. The same can be said of their performance this evening, taking to the stage and looking immediately at home. Complimented by a very well-engineered sound in the venue tonight, where clarity is the key thing, the band are squeaky tight and look hungry for the live performance.
Middleton, hooded and looking, at times, like a modern version of the Grim Reaper is definitely a man that knows his way around a guitar fretboard with some stunning solos and some truly original lines. It is a short set of 6 songs but they make the short time on stage count – I Sever, from the current album Cycle Of Suffering, hits the mark, mixing irresistible hooks with punishing music. Shout out to Ali Richardson on the drums with some very impressive work and the foundation from which all of the music hangs and is built around.
Calcified, from the same album, shines. The current single Deadwood is a brutal piece of music that sees some nice interplay between the guitars of Middleton and Alex Bailey married with some catchy hooks and all held together by the drumming of Ali Richardson and some incredibly fast bass drum work. Circle pits are in motion for the duration of the short set and Middleton promises “you’ll see more of us.” Closer, Heavy Is The Crown, shows a more melodic side to the band, slowing things down a tad while still maintaining a menacing edge.
A great start to the evening.
A massive curtain with the Kreator logo is hoisted high, while the stage is prepared for the arrival of the German thrash gods. The lights go down and we’re straight into Hate Über Alles from the 2022 album of the same name. Breakneck speed and a chorus to die for sees the crowd seeing along and banging their collective heads. Kreator have arrived; all bow to the kings of thrash!
Miland “Mille” Petrozza is in fine form, his vocals echoing around the large, cavernous venue, which is now looking pretty full despite the move from the substantially smaller Brixton Academy where this gig was originally scheduled to take place. Hail To The Hordes slows things down a little and gives Sami Yli-Sirniö an opportunity to throw out some impressive lead lines. Indeed he looks lost in the music for much of the set, clearly enjoying the experience and making the soloing look effortless.
The stage is adorned with hanging and impaled ‘bodies’ and a large backdrop. this is a simple setup with Kreator relying on the music to do the talking for the most part, without any fancy distractions. Enemy Of God ups the ante, and the volume of crowd surfer increases in line with the speed of the track!
Thankfully the sound in the arena remains top notch and Kreator are super tight which is a pre-requisite for this kind of music; one thing it cannot be is sloppy and Kreator are anything but this evening. Newish bass player, Frédéric Leclercq, has fitted into the band very well and the drumming of Jürgen “Ventor” Reil is precise and clean, holding all of the chaos around it together.
Satan Is Real is a crowd-pleaser with a beautiful twisted riff and enough accessibility to engage with everyone in the venue. Heads are banging, smiles abound. 666 – World Divided is another song with a frenetic pace and an infectious chorus that has the crowd singing along. Petrozza is handed a flag and conducts the front and back parts of the crowd to compete in a chanting competition (front always wins!) and then they launch into Flag of Hate.
The last couple of songs in the set, Violent Revolution & Pleasure To Kill take us way back in time and see the set come to a triumphant conclusion. There is no doubt that Kreator still stand head and shoulders above many of their contemporaries. They have not lost any of the critical aspects of their sound or performance over the years and the newer material is as hard-hitting as the older songs with an added element of maturity.
A top notch performance.
Last but not least this evening we have Lamb of God. Not a band I’ve really connected with in the past to be honest and given the tour de force of Kreator I was kind of expecting that the evening had already peaked. I was more than happy to be proven wrong though!
Lamb of God take to the stage, now playing to a very busy arena and warmly welcomed by the assembled masses, many of who have waited literally years for this gig to take place! Randy Blythe looks like a man on the edge most of time, stomping from one side of the stage to the other, windmilling his dreadlocks at intervals and jumping from the drum riser. Every now and again he looks into the crowd, eyes wide, fixed stare, not a man to be messed with!
“Are you ready to get rowdy, England!!?” Blythe asks of the crowd, greeted by a resounding yes! “Walk with me in Hell” resonates around the venue with its massive breakdown and Slayeresque riffing and you can see that expectations of Lamb Of God delivering have been met. Ditch see some more furious drumming and riffing, double bass drums to the max and is another song with a great breakdown. The guitars of Will Adler and Mark Morton sounding razor sharp in what, at least to my ears, sounded like a perfect mix. The stage is bare apart from the large backdrop, like Kreator, it is the music that is going to be the focus tonight.
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For picks up the pace a little and once again I’m reminded of Slayer at their best. Contractor ensures there is no pause for breath and is delivered with no shortage of attitude. John Campbells bass sounding great on the breakdown before the song gets into top gear again. Blythe introduces Omerta with the words that introduce the song on the album Ashes Of The Wake but reversing the phrasing; “If I die, you are forgiven, if I live I will kill you…”
Omens brings us back to the latest album and see’s Blythe stomping around the stage like some kind of malevolent spirit threatening to engulf the venue, crowd and all. Will Adlers guitar is turned up to mega chunk and the song blasts along with enough ferocity to remove your eyebrows! Yes, I’m more impressed than I expected to be…..
The set is closed with the twisting riff of 512, discordant and yet fitting perfectly. After a brief pause Lamb Of God are back to conclude the evening. They finish up with the legendary Redneck which goes down very well with the crowd and surely leaves even those sceptics in the venue satiated!
As I wander back to the station to make my way home with a ringing in my head, I muse on the fact that my ears have definitely been well and truly pummelled with stunning music this evening!
All concert photography by Graham Hilling. You can check out more of his work on his website, here.
Categories: Live Reviews