Lamb of God, Anthrax, Deafheaven, Power Trip February 11, Brooklyn Bowl.
Metal tour packages are most appealing when arranged like a formal dinner, with a number of courses meant to complement rather than overpower one another. Too many shows of the heavy variety wind up weighed down, when every band serves up similar midtempo sludge or speed-shredding whiplash.
Modern metal mainstays Lamb of God seemed more dedicated to achieving the right combination on their tour in support of seventh album VII: Strum und Drang, which hit Brooklyn Bowl Thursday night. So much so, in fact, the headliners might have damaged their own performance. In addition to the meat-and-potatoes pairing of themselves and Big Four thrash outfit Anthrax, Lamb of God presented a pair of du-jour openers in Deafheaven and Power Trip.
Beginning with the latter was like cutting straight to dessert. The Dallas five-piece licked out a half-hour of sugary riffs updating the crossover thrash sound that infiltrated the punk scene in the early ’80s. A few jaded metalheads indulged their sweet tooth by stomping around the circle pit with the conviction of Power Trip’s regular crowd of hardcore kids, and the band capitalized by bringing Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe out for a memorable set-closing cover of Cro-Mags’ anthem “We Gotta Know.”
Deafheaven’s extreme-metal/post-rock hybrid didn’t receive half that reaction, though drummer Daniel Tracy’s blast beats and vocalist George Clarke’s primal squeals put more traditional counterparts to shame. The San Francisco band lost the bulk of the crowd during its crystal-clear stretches of ambiance, though the dichotomy helped Deafheaven deliver the most gourmet flavor of the night. The meandering, nine-minute “Come Back,” off of last year’s New Bermuda, showcased the group at the height of its hypnotic powers.
Fans devoured Anthrax’s entire 40 minutes, responding to a pair of cuts from forthcoming album For All Kings with the same vigor as two cuts off of 1987 classic Among the Living. Both new songs, “Evil Twin” and “Breathing Lightning,” contained everything desired from an Anthrax number, from soaring melodies delivered by reunited vocalist Joey Belladonna to searing solos from new lead guitarist Jonathan Donais.
Lamb of God matched onscreen footage of imploded buildings and detonated bombs throughout the finale, laying waste to the swirling mass on the floor by plowing through a tight 15-song set. The band reached peak toxicity during “512” and “Still Echoes,” new songs about Blythe’s time in a Czech Republic jail awaiting trial for a manslaughter charge stemming from an incident at a show four years ago.
Though Lamb of God’s explosive energy kept the nightcap entertaining, the groove-oriented, diet-death-metal songs began to blend together about halfway through the band’s 85 minutes. Still, while their music didn’t taste as fresh as what came earlier in the night, it wasn’t a problem for a show that provided a savory sampling of some of the best metal has to offer.