For their penultimate song this evening Municipal Waste play “Wave Of Death”. Vocalist for the Richmond, Virginia based five piece, Tony Foresta, reckons that he wants to see “as many people as he can crowdsurfing”. What follows is chaos. It suits the band down to the ground.

For just over half an hour here, the second city is laid to waste, as it were by a band for whom the words “beered up thrash” were invented. What else can you say about a band that promises “tooth chipping thrash” before a song called “Breathe Grease”?, one who gives you a “dance song” called “Grave Dive” and one who’s anthem is called “Slime And Punishment”? The songs come and go at beyond breakneck speed, the solos don’t lead, they slash and as they play “Born To Party” with its line about “Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up” there’s a very real chance that they might have done the same track 13 times. But there’s something else about Municipal Waste. They are brilliant at it. Say it loud and proud, they are basically Beavis And Butthhead’s house band, but they are a damn good time.

“KREATOR HAS RETURNED” (caps intentional as he screamed it) says Mille Petrozza. “Thanks for waiting three years”. That’s how long this tour has been in the works and that means too that the brilliant “Hate Uber Alles” album they put out last year wasn’t supposed to be the centrepiece originally, but they kick off with its title cut here, and it’s everything Kreator are. Nasty, angry, heavy, classy and brilliant.

Over the next 55 minutes they set about proving my long held belief that the real skill in thrash was never in the “Big 4” and instead in the bands elsewhere that keep the flame burning.

“Awakening The Gods” sees the first wall of death of the evening, “Phobia” sees fists raised high, and there’s a real vitriol in “Satan Is Real”.

Everything Kreator do is done with intent, and a vicious one at that. Every note, every riff that Petrozza and Sami Yli-Sirniö toss out is done as if lives depend on it and that is never better underlined than by “666 – World Divided”, which is the anthem that was supposed to be this tour, it still is and if there’s a better thrash song played anywhere in 2023 than the old-school “Flag of Hate” then I’ll be surprised.

As they end with “Pleasure To Kill” and another ‘wall of death, it is clear that in a world where many mellow with age, Kreator are heading to their 5th decade as full of rage as ever. They are stunning here.

As someone who has gone to gigs in the second city for over 30 years, I am used to bands telling us that “we are the home of heavy metal”. After all, it was invented about four miles from where I am tonight. So when D. Randall Blythe gives it that tonight, it seems to be the latest in a long line. But after praising Sabbath, he goes on to list the other bands from this area that he loves. After Priest he says “and let’s hear it for Napalm Death and motherfucking GBH!”

And those words – that praising of punk and grindcore outfits – basically explain the enduring appeal of Lamb of God. Put simply there’s lots of bands they sound a bit like, but not one band sounds exactly like Lamb of God.

Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills” had barely finished, before Blythe is prowling around the stage, like some sort of caged animal, waiting for its hour of exercise (he’s got a song about that, too) but when he asks “are you motherfuckers ready?!” he’s not just referring to the three year hiatus between the announcement of the gig and it actually happening – and make no mistake, its not an enquiry. It’s an order.

The energy with which they launch into “Memento Mori” and “Ruin” underlines the fact that LoG are here and they mean business. Something happens in “Walk With Me In Hell” that means its paused for five minutes or so (during which time Blythe gives us his list of words that only get used in the UK) but what is telling is when they resume, it is exactly where it stopped – this is a band who is right on point right now.

They are heavy, they have a groove, but everyone knows this. Let’s also say how much LoG enjoy this too. Blythe leaps off his stage prop before “Resurrection Man” with all the glee of a chap half his age, before the brilliant “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For” takes on anthemic air.

It was before this one that the frontman had praised the Brum bands, and the fact they play “Contractor” afterwards rather shines a light on the extremes of music in what he’d said.

The band released a new record last year, but perhaps because this tour was actually for the album before it, there’s only a couple aired from it. “Omens” though is the pick, and you always knew it would likely be.

This is a band too, for whom the music matters. “11th Hour” about “ruining your life with drink and drugs” is dedicated to “my friend Danny!” and “512” is from the dark place of Blythe’s incarceration. Mostly, though, this and any other Lamb Of God gig is about visceral pleasure, as “Vigil” and “Laid To Rest” underline as they always do – proving yet again that guitarists like Mark Morton are hard to find. He looks like he should be in some southern rock band, by goodness, there’s no better purveyor of metal riffs.

That leaves just one. You know what it was if you know anything about metal in the last 30 years. There’s a motherfucking invitation here to “leave the floor if you aren’t ready to dance” and Birmingham goes collectively crazy for about five minutes.

After that, of course, there’s no encore. What’s the point? They leave, knowing they’ve come here and done what they wanted to do. They’ve been the conduits for all kinds of anger to spew forth, and at the same time proved they are a premier league heavy metal band – just entirely on their own terms.

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