By Joe Kovack
Boulder is known for many things; gorgeous mountains, twirling hippies and being a mecca for the new-age. Rarely is it associated with the loud, fast, hard-hitting force of sound that is heavy metal. But this week proved the stereotypes wrong. Beginning Monday night, Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth played a nearly sold-out, two-night stint at the Fox Theatre. Brandishing their unique mix of death metal and progressive rock, Opeth brought the metal fans out of the woodwork. As the lights came on and the show ended, murmurs of Lamb of God from the crowd could be heard; a sign that many of the faces there would be convening Wednesday night at the Boulder Theater for the American heavy metal band. And sure enough they did.
It was another nearly sold-out crowd Wednesday night at the Boulder Theater for Lamb of God – proving once again that there is an audience for metal in this new-age mountain town. After a rousing performance by the Polish death metal band Decapitated, the crowd was primed and ready for action and the chants of “Lamb of God” rose in cadence and sound as the time drew near for the band to emerge.
The stage was set and the lights dimmed revealing two screens – one on each side of the drum kit which sat elevated in the middle of the stage. Images of classic buildings undergoing controlled explosions shown on the screens, creating a frenzy as the crowd’s anticipation grew. From the shadows the band emerged and jumped right into “Desolation,” the second song off their latest record Resolution. It was the perfect song to start the set; a song that embodies both elements of thrash metal and speed metal mixed into the intense, punch-you-in-the-gut ferocity of Lamb of God at its best.
As the first song ended, singer Randy Blythe stopped the show, called for the house lights to be turned on and asked that the crowd in the pit take a step back, as the barricade between the pit and the stage was being overrun. Normally, metal bands don’t take time between songs to talk to the crowd for very long; as you can lose the energy and momentum of the music. But Blythe was uncompromising. Fans understood this, as Blythe was just recently acquitted of manslaughter charges in the Czech Republic, after a fan in a 2010 show was pushed from the stage and suffered fatal head injuries. Yet this is common in the metal world, as fans sometimes sneak on stage, only to be pushed into the arms of the crowd by a band member or body guard. Unfortunately the fan did not survive the fall. So it was no surprise Blythe did not take any chances. During the pause, Blythe announced to the crowd “…one of our fans died. I’m not going to tell you to guys to not go crazy, but take it easy and watch out for each other.”
The pause in music lasted nearly 15 minutes as theater staff scurried to fix the barricade and ensure the safety of the crowd. During this time, the audience was given a rare glimpse of the lighter side of Blythe as he entertained the crowd with bad jokes with bad Scottish accents and a tale of his short time in a Czech Republic prison with a Mongolian man who only spoke two English words. It was definitely a unique experience for a Lamb of God show and one fans won’t surely forget.
The rest of the show continued without a hitch. They jumped right back into the music with “Ghost Walking” off of their latest record and then into “Walk with Me in Hell” off their 2006 album Sacrifice. Taking a moment before one of their more famous songs “Ruin,” from As the Palaces Burn, Blythe dedicated the song to the men and women of the United States military, acknowledging their sacrifice to ensure our freedom. As “Ruin” played, a series of pictures of military personnel shown on the screens; all fans of the band Blythe commented. Fans know the respect Lamb of God has for the U.S. Military (even with the band’s liberal leanings) and their albums As the Palaces Burn and Ashes of the Wake take on themes of war and politics as they were released in the mid-2000s.
The energy in the theater never faltered as Lamb of God progressed between classic songs from previous albums and new songs off of Resolution. The audience sang in unison with Blythe, pounded their fists in the air and jumped in time with the dynamic power of the punk-laden metal that is Lamb of God. The temperature was hot and the music was loud. And Boulder metal fans can rest easy knowing they got their metal fix; for the time being.