Concert Review – Lamb of God & Megadeth (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/18/2022)

After two years of waiting, Toronto was finally able to witness all the energy and heaviness of “The Metal Tour of the Year”… and it was absolutely awesome!

OPENING ACTS: In Flames and Trivium

Ladies and gentlemen, or whatever way you like to be referred as, what an incredible night of first-class, high-octane, infernal Heavy Metal we had yesterday in Toronto at the unparalleled Budweiser Stage, with IN FLAMES, TRIVIUM, LAMB OF GOD and the one and only MEGADETH showing us all why their tour was named The Metal Tour of the Year! As a matter of fact, last night’s concert was originally scheduled to happen in 2020, but of course due to the shitty COVID-19 pandemic (which apparently seems to be finally over), it had to be rescheduled countless times. Anyway, the wait was totally worth it, as all bands were simply awesome yesterday, putting a huge smile on the faces of everyone at the venue (and the fans didn’t seem to care about the fact the temperature in the city dropped from the mid-30’s to the low-10’s in just a couple of days). Well, I believe Sweden’s own Melodic Groove Metal/Metalcore icons IN FLAMES were awesome as well, as due to work and traffic I wasn’t able to make it to their concert, but a friend that arrived earlier said they kicked ass.

Setlist
Cloud Connected
Behind Space
Everything’s Gone
Where the Dead Ships Dwell
Call My Name
All for Me
I Am Above
Take This Life

Band members
Anders Fridén – vocals
Björn Gelotte – guitar
Chris Broderick – guitar
Bryce Paul Newman – bass
Niels Nielsen – keyboards
Tanner Wayne – drums

I was scared I wouldn’t be able to make it to see Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal maniacs TRIVIUM, but fortunately I arrived at the venue around 10 minutes before they hit the stage with their short but extremely powerful performance. Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent were beyond happy to be back in Toronto after almost five years (yes, their last concert in the city was in the distant year of 2017), and add to that the superb tracks from their most recent album In the Court of the Dragon, those being the title-track In the Court of the Dragon and my favorite one of the album, Like a Sword Over Damocles, and there you have a recipe for success (and mosh pits). “Throes of Perdition” and “Feast of Fire”, which were on the setlist in the US dates, were replaced by Strife and Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr, and let’s say those new additions to their setlist received a killer feedback from the crowd, who engaged in several mosh pits while the band was on fire onstage. And what can I say about the jumping up and down ignited by Matt during their hit In Waves? That was outstanding to say the least. Furthermore, Matt mentioned this was the biggest show of the entire North American tour, proving how much us Torontonians love all bands involved, and hopefully that will inspired Trivium to return to Toronto for a full-bodied performance on their own in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
X
In the Court of the Dragon
Like a Sword Over Damocles
Beyond Oblivion
Strife
Rain
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Capsizing the Sea
In Waves

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

LAMB OF GOD

If there’s a band that knows how to inspire any type of person in the world to slam into the mosh pit, that’s undoubtedly Richmond, Virginia’s Groove Metal horde LAMB OF GOD, who precisely at 8:10pm hit the stage for the total delight of all metalmaniacs ready for a good dosage of heaviness, rage and insanity. Still promoting their 2020 self-titled masterpiece, the unstoppable Randy Blythe and his henchmen put on an unforgettable show, from the opening song Memento Mori, until the very last second of their all-time classic Redneck. It’s beautiful to see the rise of Lamb of God to the status of metal giants, as now they even have fire onstage like what they provided us with in Walk With Me in Hell, which was by the way flawless and one of the top moments of the entire night. It doesn’t matter if they played darker, more introspective songs like 512 or if they exhaled sheer violence like in Contractor, everything was perfect, and Toronto definitely shared their love for the band with all horns in the air, all screaming, and of course the frantic, never-stopping mosh pits in the floor section. As expected, Randy, who seemed possessed throughout their entire set, delivered a couple of Woooooo!’s as his personal tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and dedicated Redneck to the guy who in 2018 tried to swim back to that same venue during their tour with Slayer. Toronto can’t wait to have Lamb of God again in the city, an I can’t wait to slam into the pit to the sound of one of my favorite metal bands of the past decade.

Setlist
Memento Mori
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Resurrection Man
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
Contractor
11th Hour
512
Ghost Walking
Vigil
Laid to Rest
Redneck

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Phil Demmel – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Art Cruz – drums

MEGADETH

As expected, most fans at the Budweiser Stage were there to witness “MegaDave” Mustaine and his Thrash/Speed Metal institution MEGADETH distill their unique classics in the city again after so many years, and when the clock hit 9:45pm our dreams came true as the first notes from Hangar 18 (right after the intro Prince of Darkness) were played by Dave and his bandmates Kiko Loureiro, James LoMenzo and Dirk Verbeuren. Is there a better way to kick off a show than with such classic, followed by the underrated tunes Dread and the Fugitive Mind and Angry Again? What a brilliant start to their set, winning the hearts and minds of everyone instantly. Dave and Kiko played their guitars to perfection as usual during the entire concert, making our jaws drop and inspiring us to show them the horns during and after each song played. I loved the fact they’re still playing the superb Trust after so many decades, and although they replaced another pulverizing song, “She-Wolf”, with A Tout Le Monde, that didn’t do any harm to their concert. Who doesn’t love to sing such stunning ballad together with Dave, screaming the song’s French words at the top of his or her lungs? In addition, a few different versions of Vic Rattlehead appeared onstage during the songs Conquer or Die!, Dystopia and Peace Sells, adding an extra touch of awesomeness to the show, culminating with their undisputed hymn Holy Wars… The Punishment Due. By the end of the concert, Dave mentioned the band is recording the follow-up to their 2016 album Dystopia and that the album should see the light of day this summer, so all we need to do now is wait for it and for another night of our beloved Megadeth in Toronto… and Dave promised he’ll return to the city, oh yeah!

Setlist
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Dread and the Fugitive Mind
Angry Again
Conquer or Die!
Dystopia
The Conjuring
Trust
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells

Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
Silent Scorn
My Way
Shadow of Deth

Band members
Dave Mustaine – vocals, guitars
Kiko Loureiro – guitars, backing vocals
James LoMenzo – bass, backing vocals
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

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Album Review – Without Mercy / Seismic (2020)

A merciless Vancouver-based Death and Thrash Metal unity is ready to strike us all once again with their newest opus, representing four years of solid work ethic and unwillingness to compromise even in the slightest.

What’s in a name? Everything. And Vancouver, Canada-based Death/Thrash Metal unity Without Mercy certainly stays true to its name. Ruthless and menacing, these Canadian metal titans have cultivated a fusion of death and thrash, a sound that shows off the band’s respect for and dedication to both genres since their inception in 2004, being highly recommended for fans of the fulminating music by Cattle Decapitation, Meshuggah, Whitechapel and Pantera, among others. Now in 2020, the band comprised of Alex Friis on vocals, DJ Temple on the guitars, Ryan Loewen on bass and Matt Helie on  drums is ready to strike once again with their sophomore full-length effort Seismic, representing four years of solid work ethic and unwillingness to compromise even in the slightest. Produced by DJ Temple himself, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero at Flatline Audio, displaying a venomous artwork by Canadian artist Brayden Eshuis, and featuring very special guests Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore) and Chris Broderick (Act of Defiance, Megadeth, Jag Panzer), Seismic will go straight for your jugular, offering you the most visceral fusion of Death, Thrash and Groove Metal you can think of.

With guest Jeff Loomis blasting one of his trademark, incendiary guitar solos, Thunderbird is an explosion of Thrash and Groove Metal the likes of Lamb of God and Meshuggah where Matt is bestial with his blast beats while Alex sounds like a rabid creature on vocals, and continuing their path of progressiveness, heaviness and rage, DJ Temple fires razor-edged riffs supported by the rumbling bass by Ryan in Abysmal, highly recommended for fans of Progressive Death and Thrash Metal. What DJ Temple does with his axe in the next song, titled Left Alone, is truly impressive, resulting in a lesson in intricacy and violence accompanied by his infuriated band members, and the final sound couldn’t have been more demented and sharper than what it already is; whereas Alex’s deranged roars and gnarls will penetrate deep inside your mind in Wiindigo, while Matt and Ryan make sure the earth trembles to the sound of their respective beats and bass jabs in another solid fusion of modern-day Death and Groove Metal.

Then it’s time for Chris Broderick to provide a sick guitar solo in Disinfect The Soul, a metal beast brought into being by this insane squad showcasing austere, in-your-face words barked by Alex (“Thank God there’s only one of you / I’m striving for a better form of survival / THE MEANS AREN’T AVAILABLE without the threat / I finally understand what could make a man run / Chasing my tail, I have it now / SO MUCH WORSE than first thought”), while in The Disaster the thrashing riffs and solos by DJ Temple are amplified by the crushing drums by Matt, or in other words, it’s a straightforward tune that will inspire you to slam into the circle pit like a maniac. Possessed brings forward another explosive round of their trademark music, feeling and sounding absolutely berserk from start to finish, and with Alex being once again demonic with his sick gnarls, presenting elements from the darkest forms of Death, Thrash and Groove Metal you can think of. I Break The Chain, the second to last blast of infernal metal music by Without Mercy, feels like a more deranged version of Gojira infused with the austerity of Cattle Decapitation, meaning it will hammer your heads mercilessly until the very end, before the band closes the album with Uprooted, presenting beautiful, darkly poetic lyrics “declaimed” by Alex (“To dream of the earth dying is nothing new / To watch in awe of its beauty is something I don’t do / To hold a dead bird in my hand and demand it sing / To hold a gift in my hand and not feel a thing”) while the music remains as acid and pulverizing as possible, spearheaded by DJ Temple’s scorching riffage and the always demented beats by Matt.

The Death and Thrash Metal landscapes might seem a bit too saturated for a lot of fans from all over the world, but let’s say Without Mercy managed to sound unique and fresh throughout Seismic, turning it into a must-listen to anyone who enjoys some well-engendered extreme music while at the same time loves to slam his or her cranial skull into a frantic mosh pit. Hence, you can show your support to those brave Canadian metallers by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by listening to more of their infernal creations on Spotify, and specially by purchasing your copy of Seismic from their own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album). In the beginning of this review it was mentioned that the name of the band, Without Mercy, says it all about their music. Well, the same can be said about the album name, as this is a true headbanging, thrashing earthquake made in Canada that will leave you completely disoriented after all is said and done, exactly the way the band had in mind. Yes, my friends, there’s indeed a mission accomplished in the name of death and thrash here.

Best moments of the album: Left Alone, Possessed and Uprooted.

Worst moments of the album: Wiindigo.

Released in 2020 Bloodblast Distribution

Track listing
1. Thunderbird 4:53
2. Abysmal 5:42
3. Left Alone 4:00
4. Wiindigo 4:55
5. Disinfect The Soul 7:18
6. The Disaster 3:52
7. Possessed 4:04
8. I Break The Chain 4:44
9. Uprooted 4:58

Band members
Alex Friis – vocals
DJ Temple – guitars
Ryan Loewen – bass
Matt Helie – drums

Guest musicians
Jeff Loomis – guitar solo on “Thunderbird”
Chris Broderick – guitar solo on “Disinfect The Soul”