Tonight marked a night that metal fans have been longing for. As someone who grew up in the Headbangers Ball era, Megadeth were one of the first metal bands being properly exposed to at a young age. Most significantly, through footage from the Clash of the Titans show that happened at Wembley Arena in 1990 alongside Slayer and Alice In Chains. Somewhat surprisingly, it was only the third time Megadeth have played Wembley Arena and the second time as headliners. But. it’s the lineup that really got the juices flowing. This is a lineup akin to one the band took out in the early days of their own Gigantour tour. It has the epic feel of that Clash of the Titans show. Needless to say, this was one of the metal tours of the year.
Opening the night’s proceedings are Sylosis, a band who got fans wagging their tongues, but has somewhat all but passed by. Despite playing criminally early, they made the most of the crowd, showing the tightness and technical prowess that last saw them in a much smaller venue as main support to Killswitch Engage a couple of years ago. The main thing with Sylosis was they have finally found their groove and hammered the point home. Looking every bit the part and feeling right at home in front of a stadium audience, they even managed to get the first wall of death of the evening, where most other bands would crack under the pressure. Sylosis, simply put, soared.
Children of Bodom were the next special guests and they are a band that seemed to be on and off the boil over the last few years. This has led to them being inconsistent to gain any real forward momentum. With their latest album “I Worship Chaos,” it is their best album in the last 6 or 7 years and made up to witness Children of Bodom in their territory. Admittedly, it was probably the best sets they’ve played since 2006 when they opened for Slayer. Things just clicked and there was a renewed energy that lacked previously. Maybe a change in lineup has helped or they had the songs. They doled out the usual suspects and threw in a couple of new ones for good measure. One can only hope that this is the start of the Children of Bodom‘s resurgence.
What can you say about Lamb of God that hasn’t been said a million times before? They’re an absolute game changing force of nature with seven classic albums under their belts and who’s absolutely faultless live. It takes a brave band to tour alongside Lamb of God, because they will pretty much make you look stupid in comparison. Armed with an hour and 15 minutes, they play with the ferocity of an angry bear being chased by bees. Randy Blythe stalked the stage like a man possessed. He’s never been a calm frontman by any standards, but he teared the place apart. It also helps that Lamb of God had solid gold songs to back up how hard they play. You can’t argue with the likes of ‘Ruin’, ‘Still Echoes’, ‘Omerta’, ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’, and the absolutely colossal sounding ‘Black Label’. The real MVP moment came during ‘Redneck’, where the band conjured a circle pit so big, it looked like the portal to hell opened up in the middle of Wembley, cementing Lamb of God‘s best and brutal sets ever witnessed. Make no mistake about it! When you talk about bands that will leave a lasting legacy on our genre, look no further than Lamb of God. They are the band that has already hit legendary status, and are still showing up everyone else in the process.
Megadeth had the hard task of topping what Lamb of God have just done and having their drum machine, Chris Adler, along to help them out. It is no word of a lie that I’m a Megadeth fanboy! But, everyone is not blind to the fact the band has had their ups and downs and can be a little erratic with their live performances. However, it seems like they are out to prove a point, and it was to follow Lamb of God every night has perhaps given them a kick up the ass.
Starting the set with ‘Hangar 18’ is definitely a statement of intent if ever there was one, and that was understandably met with a rapturous response. The great thing about a Megadeth setlist is that it tends to be different every time. Whilst you are never going to hear some songs live, it is nice that every now and then to have tracks like ‘Wake up Dead’, ‘Dawn Patrol’ and ‘Fatal Illusion’ from their forthcoming album “Dystopia,” It was interesting to hear no material played post “Cryptic Writings” and any cuts from the brilliant “Endgame” or “13”, which was a damn shame. It does, however, lend to a classic feel. Dave Mustaine has been saying that he would like to take the band back to their roots. With a set made up entirely of classic material and a brand new lineup (which may possibly be the best in the band’s history) it seemed like he was shooting for the definitive Megadeth experience. Even some sound problems that hamper the set can’t bring the momentum down. As the cry of FREEDOM that lead set closer ‘Holy Wars…The punishment due’ takes on extra significance. It was hard not to look at Megadeth as a band completely reborn and revitalised. If “Dystopia” can harness the power the band currently has live, not only are we looking at another classic album, but maybe it’s for Megadeth to finally get a coveted slot headlining Download before they hang it up.
Photography by Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography