The deep rumblings of bass notes, screams and the rhythmic pounding of drums that were heard resounding from the Magic City Music Hall on May 16 were the sweet sounds of what I am calling the best metal lineup of 2016. From the moment opener Corrosion of Conformity took the stage to the final note of headliner Lamb of God, this show was incredible.
Up first was Raleigh, NC’s own Corrosion Of Conformity. They blasted out a perfect selection of songs from their 30-plus year career with such precision and ferocity that they set the tone as an opener. They kicked off their set with “Paranoid Opioid” off of their 2005 album In The Arms Of God. It wasn’t long before they tore right into one of the songs that got me hooked on them, “Broken Man.” Pepper took time to thank the fans who continue to support the band. He let the fans know that they keep doing what they do because of them. The crowd went crazy as they played an incredible version of “Vote with a Bullet.” They wrapped up their set with the hit that launched them into “metal legend status,” “Clean My Wounds.” After their performance, Pepper came out to hang and chat with fans.
The lights dimmed and Chuck Brown’s “We Need Some Money” filled the PA system. The crowd was already excited, warmed up and feeling good, and then Clutch took the stage and began tearing through “Who Wants to Rock,” which they haven’t played live since 2013 Honestly, this was the perfect song to start their set, because their diehard fans went wild. Clutch played a flawless mix of old and new tracks that included “Cypress Grove,” “A Quick Death in Texas” and the crowd truly appreciated them breaking out “Sucker For the Witch” from the classic album Psychic Warfare. If you haven’t seen them live, I don’t know what the hell you are waiting for. Seriously, this band has been around since the early ’90s and they are remarkable. They bring together a unique blend of rock and metal and throw in a fun-loving blast of funk that creates a very satisfying, heavy-groove metal sound. I can’t do them justice with any description. You just need to get out and hear it for yourselves.
The Magic City Music Hall went dark; the video screens on the stage began to flicker and came to life. Images of destruction, including buildings crumbling, explosions, war and fire, set the stage for the heavy-metal onslaught about to be experienced. The first chords rang out as the drums pounded and Randy Blythe exploded out onto the stage as the band ripped into “Walk With Me In Hell.” The crowd erupted into a mass of bodies moving, flying and crowd surfing. Lamb of God also played a pleasing mix of old and new, obscure tracks and well-known hits. They slashed through songs like a well-oiled machine, with a set list that featured “Ruin,” the heart-pounding shred fest “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For,” “Still Echos,” “Desolation,” “Laid To Rest” and “Redneck.”
If the combination of a capacity crowd and more than three hours of metal music wasn’t enough to get your heart pumping, then you probably should have checked your pulse to make certain you were alive. As the lights came back on and the smoke cleared, the fans I saw slowly making their way toward the bar, merch booths or the exits, all looked totally satisfied.