A little over two hours ago (plus however long it takes to write this review) five men from Richmond motherfucking Virginia unleashed their wrath upon a starved metal crowd in Bangalore, India. Like all my reviews, this too begins from the top. We arrived at Palace Grounds at around 3 to see hundreds of black t-shirts scattered in and around the area. There is a deep sense of pride when you see this long-haired herd, and you grin at the ‘normal’ folk who frown on you. Most of the t-shirts had three words distinctly etched on them – Lamb, Of, and God. The summer was here in all its blazing glory, and the storm would soon follow.
Right off the bat, let me admit that I’m not your run-of-the-mill Lamb of God fan. I was one of the early bird ticket holders, but my eagerness was in seeing the Extinct Reflections comeback as much as it was in watching LoG, blasphemous as that may sound. I was indeed excited by the prospect of seeing this great band in front of my eyes, but my excitement would not compare to the thousands of dreams that took live form today, and my review might not do justice to the many broken necks and shattered spines.
Now that I’m done with the introduction and the disclaimer, let me proceed to the music. Bangalore’s heavy metal act Bhoomi began precisely at 4. I’ll shamefully admit that despite living in this city all my life, today was the first time I was seeing them live. It was a rather sparse crowd inside the arena at that point. Trouble began right after the first song. A couple of guys from the northern part of the country chucked bottles on stage, and this drove guitarist Tony Das furious. Abuses hurtled back and forth between the band and the insolent segment of the crowd, but Bhoomi were determined to show the crowd that they were as good a band as the rest of the fodder, with songs such as Uncultured, Game and Raise the Hell. I was looking forward to hearing their older stuff like Dead Time Stories and Vertigo, but the band played new material that will make their upcoming album, which will be produced by Neil Kernon who has worked with bands like Judas Priest, Queensryche and Nevermore. It wasn’t an explosive start to the afternoon, mainly because it was simply too fucking hot.
The event’s surprise element was a band from Mizoram called Boomarang. When I read about the opening acts, I checked this band out on myspace, and was confounded by the genre, and thus their selection to open for LoG. Boomarang calls their music “junk rock since it contains progressions of various genres of music which ranges from jazz, blues, reggae, funk to extreme metal”. None of that justified their inclusion at Summerstorm, but in the eyes of the organizers, bands from the north-east need to be given a chance to showcase their talent. I did like the songs that were up on myspace, despite them being of the rock variety, but I wasn’t sure if a metal crowd would have the patience. Luckily for the band, it wasn’t a full strength crowd. I wanted to pay attention to these guys, but like most people, I relented to the heat, plopping myself onto the ground after visiting the stalls for beverages. From what little I did hear, their music sounded something like Rage Against The Machine. A pub gig on a Friday night would suit this band better, I suppose.
Mumbai band Scribe were the third band on stage. I’m quite the biased metal head, and I think the Bangalore metal scene owns the rest of the country’s metal put together. Having said that, there were probably as many people today from Mumbai, Pune and Delhi as there were from Bangalore. Still lying down on the grass, I only started focusing on the stage when I heard the guitarist play Meshuggah’s Bleed, and that was pretty much where I stopped. I don’t get the typical North Indian vocalist’s obsession with talking. Parikrama did that in Mumbai, and Scribe did that today. The vocalist’s deadpan humor got onto my nerves. The intro riffs welcomed me to headbang, but the vocals put me off. The band was promoting “Mark of Teja”, an album that would make a good poster if you don’t like the music, quipped the vocalist. My boss Subbu felt that Scribe were the best band of the day, scoring in tightness, stage act and sound. I know you were getting ready to gun me down, so that should have appeased you.
The real deal began when Sandesh Nagaraj arrived on stage to effortlessly seam through his divine riffs. This modest guitarist flew here all the way from Los Angeles to play a half hour show for Extinct Reflections. And that was how long this amazing band’s final performance lasted. They started with Swallowed Into Silence, and then I was taken aback when I heard that epic riff from Recognize Analyze. Already? This song has to have the best metal riffs written by an Indian. They slowed it down with Mercury Shattered, and it was at this point that the crowd began screaming Lamb Of God. Summerstorm had, by far, the stupidest crowd that I’ve ever seen. The vocalist Prasad took it well, fooling the crowd into thinking that Machines of Madness was a LoG song. They left In Praise Of Your Shadows for the finale, and it was over as quick as it began.
Forty five minutes after ER finish, you hear The Passing. The five men from Richmond motherfucking Virginia arrive. The horns are in the air, the crowd is jumping and headbanging to In Your Words and Set To Fail. There is awe all around me, but the magnitude of the occasion hits me only when I hear Randy scream Walk With Me In Hell. The madness continues with Now You’ve Got Something To Die For. Indeed, we do. The older material also includes Ruin and Hourglass. The lighting is spectacular. It feels as if we are being invaded by aliens. They play Dead Seeds and Randy talks about how special it is to be in India. He thanks the crowd for coming in from all parts of the country, and a friend later told me that he had tears in his eyes. I message a friend saying that I’ve seen better shows, and at that moment, the spotlight falls on Mark Morton, who explodes into Blacken The Cursed Sun. Is any of this even real? Hell yes! Descending is a treat. As The Palaces Burn… Laid To Rest… Need I say much? Randy dedicates Contractor to a real punk rock dude who changed the world – Mahatma Gandhi. Chris Adler is drumming so fast that his stick flies off. Another delight springs our way when we hear that sweet intro to Vigil. Two songs to go, says Randy. That quick? It has been less than ninety minutes since LoG began. The circle pits are in full force for Redneck, and finally, for Black Label. Of course, they wouldn’t leave without an encore, right? Wrong! Minutes after LoG walk off the stage, the lights go out and the drum kit is disassembled. I want to see 11th Hour and Reclamation, but I don’t see too many people complaining. Everyone seems satisfied. Money more than well spent.
We walk out at 9 PM. Amon Amarth began at 9 PM at Deccan Rock. I hear people say that this was the best show ever, and I hear other people say this show was extremely disappointing in the sense that LoG fucked up on their timing on quite a few occasions. The guitar sound wasn’t perfect, but the drums were massive. For me, and I repeat, for me, both Deccan Rock and Porcupine Tree were much better experiences, but that’s only because my love for AA and PT exceeds my love for LoG. Two and a half hours into writing this review, I still don’t feel that crushing sense of euphoria that should have swept me over. Even my neck seems alright despite having headbanged to every single riff for ninety minutes. I can only hope that this will all hit me tomorrow.
I dedicate this review to my close friend Satya who was too busy stalking mature women in Orissa instead of being with us. Cheers motherfuckers.