The abundance of black t-shirts, tattoos and the vast amount of hair in the Qudos Arena really gives the impression of a full house for tonight’s riff-ravaged madness.
It’s approximately 2 hours until Iowa’s finest Slipknot are set to tear our faces clean from our heads, but for now it’s up to Byron Bay lads In Hearts Wake to kick off tonight’s proceedings. Having had a stellar 18-months touring off the back of their third album Skydancer, as well as releasing a collaborative EP with fellow metalcore mates Northlane titled Equinox, the quintet are in an extremely fruitful time in their career, and after tearing through their roughly 30 min set, they close with track Refuge that sparks a solid appreciation from a number of early punters.
Now to leave it to the Americans, and a crazed manner of distorted electronics signal the beginning of Virginian behemoths Lamb Of God’s offering. Over three years since his brief imprisonment on manslaughter charges, vocalist Randy Blythe seems to have taken that experience to harness an unyielding and manic motivation for his live presence. Opening with Walk With Me In Hell from their 2006 full-length Sacrement, Blythe canters from one side of the stage to the other like a man possessed, his signature blood-curdling growl reverberating through the room. We’re treated to highlights from the many eras of LoG’s back catalogue, including Ruin from 2003 album As The Palaces Burn, Laid To Rest from their fourth album Ashes of the Wake, and Still Echoes from their most recent release VII: Sturm und Drang. Circle pits are rife through out their set, at least three of them to be exact, while fan lap up the shredding menace and thumping kick drum.
We’re not near sold out status by any means when Fashion by the late, great David Bowie rings out over the PA, a chance for a bit of a boogie as the lights go down and the mayhem becomes imminent. After a 5-min intro, we’re punched square in the jaw, as the eight jumpsuit-donned heretics descend into leading single The Negative One from their latest Grammy Award-nominated album .5: The Gray Chapter.
But from the start we knew tonight’s proceedings were never going to hit the mark right away for a number of reasons. First and most noticeably, the absence of percussionist Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan smashing the shit out of his keg drums leaves an incredible emptiness to one side of the stage at all times, no matter how much fellow percussionist and #3 Chris Fehn attempts to connect with both sides of the pit. The other most irritating factor to detract from the stellar musicianship and the hitting setlist is the fact that the band feel the need to vacate the stage every two to three songs for a little breather. We get it Slipknot, you’re getting older and you’re going to need breaks more often but don’t completely abandon the stage, stilt the energy and leave all of your “family” stranded after they have just moshed themselves stupid.
Old favourites such as Eyeless, Wait and Bleed, The Heretic Anthem, Before I Forget and of course their monster hit Duality send the crowd completely off their rockers, while the more demure sounding Psychosocial and Dead Memories provide smooth sing-alongs. It must also be noted that the visceral graphics playing on the screen behind the band are absolutely stellar. Warped images of bloody surgeries, burning manikins and dismembered animals are a true tribute to the artistic vision of Crahan in his absence.
There may have been a lot of things that didn’t necessarily gel tonight, many being out of the band’s control. But countless individuals still leave sweaty and sated, and you have no choice but to admire the Iowa eight’s spirit and motivation, particularly towards the end of a hefty 2-year world tour.
Gallery: Slipknot, Lamb Of God, In Hearts Wake – Entertainment Centre, Brisbane 28/10/16