Killswitch Engage / Lamb Of God @ Hammerstein Ballroom

Killswitch Engage (Dan Elliott)NEW YORK, NY—Tickets can sometimes be hard to sell, but tickets with big name metal acts like Killswitch Engage, Lamb Of God and DevilDriver, well those tickets become easier to sell. Easy enough to sell out in less than a month; no kidding. Over 2,000 metalheads outside waiting, watching as every minute passed, knew they were one step closer to hearing some great metal. Oh the aromas that were in the air while waiting on line.

The night started with Swedish metal-rockers Soilwork. With some highly anticipated bands coming on after them, they had their plates full and had a lot to live up to. They worked the crowd, playing like they’ve done it before. Having released their new album Sworn To A Great Divide in mid- October, fans were treated to a mix of songs. The death metal growl, I guess you can call it, got those filing in to move up closer to the stage a little faster. I don’t think it’s by coincidence; Soilwork have a sound much similar to In Flames, their Swedish counterparts. Soilwork’s melodic approach to metal makes for a catchy beat without sacrificing their heavy tone. They closed out their set with a familiar song to most, “Stabbing The Drama,” which features an awesome double bass beat, interesting lyrics and a simple guitar riff that seems to be the winning formula for these guys. When they were finished, you could hear the chants from the audience wanting more.

To no one’s disappointment DevilDriver went up early. I don’t know what it is about DevilDriver but the second they hit the stage, the pit always just opens right up. Sure enough I saw a small circle pit forming for just the intro. The pit, well that just erupted when they went into “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.” Their death metal/thrash songs gave fans music to mosh to, headbang to, crowd surf to and pretty much anything else. A couple of songs off their new album included “The Axe Shall Fall” and “Clouds Over California.” Vocalist Dez Fafara mentioned the pit and called out to the audience wanting to make it even bigger. Ask and you shall receive. “I Could Care Less,” from their self- titled album, was just awesome live.

We were hit with an arsenal of bands. After two solid, good openers, it was time for the headliners. Lamb Of God stole the show, hands down. Every person that was either in the bathroom, getting a beer, or just plain bullshitting stopped, if even just for the first song. There was a balance of old and new and between heavy and heavier. There aren’t that many bands that can work crowds as big as the crowd at Hammerstein but LOG don’t seem to ever disappoint live. What LOG do on albums is nothing like what you get live. The reason it’s so good isn’t only because of the band either as the band’s fans always go ready to throw down. It wasn’t the circle pit this time around, as fans showed what LOG are known for—the wall of death.

Nonstop touring has brought LOG around numerous times and they’ve tweaked their set list before every stop. It’s safe to say the fans liked the tweaking that went into this tour. Songs included on this stop were favorites “Omerta,” “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For,” “Pathetic,” “Blackened The Cursed Sun,” “Ruin,” “Vigil,” and, of course, “Black Label.” All the touring has caught up with the band and Randy did tell fans that this’ll be his last time around until 2009, as they take a one year break and work on their next album.

A metal show is always an endurance test, but with that many good bands, there were some, like me, who just couldn’t make it the distance. Too much involvement I guess is to blame. For most of LOG’s set I couldn’t help but just be in the pit. So I forgot to take my bracelet off, and it cost me. During Black Label’s last song, someone grabbed my bracelet and luckily it was strong enough not to break, but it did rip into my wrist, and I’m sure I’ll have a nice scar from it. EMTs looked at it, but I was way too tired to even stand on my own so I barely remember what they even said to me. I could hear Killswitch’s set, but didn’t get to see it. From the sounds of it, the fans were just as loud as for LOG. As I was leaving I looked in, and everyone was well into it. I’ve noticed people leave early at other shows, but I just couldn’t see anyone else leaving but me for KSE. I was really looking forward to seeing them do “Holy Diver,” which is a more mainstream song from the band with fewer growls and screams from Howard Jones and a rock and roll style beat. It’s more of a head bopping song if anything, but I enjoy it. I did hear it from where I was and I just wish I got to be in the crowd for it as it’s not the same sitting all the way in the back for it. I’ll make sure to catch them in February when they come back around.

Photo Credit: Daniel Elliot