Ottobar; Baltimore, MD; 07/18/03

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Well, it had been a few years since I'd been to the old Ottobar and, knowing in the intervening years that the venue had chosen to move to new and larger digs, I'd been anxious to see what the new Ottobar looked like. I finally got my chance. Could you dream up a better scenario than seeing Lamb Of God as a first show at a old/new venue? I couldn't.

Hailing from West Virginia, and highly spoken of by Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe, Byzantine got the show started with their crisp set. Byzantine combine heavy metal with scorching leads, aggressive vocals, and killer overall presentation. Byzantine were certainly one of the more interesting opening acts I've seen in recent years if only because the band judiciously combined modern and old-school styles into an intriguing mix. Check out Byzantine at

Hailing from Philadelphia the modern metal of A Life Once Lost was a weird contrast to the near old-school approach of Byzantine. A Life Once Lost employed typically aggressive stop/start riffing (think of Meshuggah on "Nothing") with the growing, explosive, and, by most accounts, fertile metalcore/hardcore scene (think of any of the Northeast Pacific hardcore bands without the emo influences). A Life Once Lost didn't really grab me, but I'll chalk most of that up to the fact that I know little of band except for this evening's performance. Check out A Life Once Lost at

Misery Index are local heroes of the death metal scene. Bassist Jason Netherton and guitarist Sparky Voyles, formerly of Dying Fetus, have teamed up in their new group to continue the push into the deep consciousness of the death metal legions. Tonight's show at the Ottobar served as warm-up gig of sorts for the Dying Fetus/Skinless/Divine Empire/Misery Index tour which was to start the very next day. As such Misery Index blasted through a fairly short, but wickedly intense set. Check out Misery Index at

Compared to my first experience with Lamb Of God in the concert setting way back in 2000, this is more like what I had in mind for the success of the band (see original concert link here). The Ottobar was packed with the band's obviously growing contingent of fans. It pleases me to no end that Lamb Of God have gained a measure of success over the last three years that was sorely overlooked by Baltimore-area metal heads during some of the band's 2000 and 2001 gigs.

Anyway, my conversation with Randy Blythe before the show only added to the anticipation of seeing the band after nearly three years. Just by walking through the crowd it wasn't too hard to notice the large number of Lamb Of God t-shirts on the patrons roaming around. It's obvious that Lamb Of God have made a big impression and knowing this actually heightened my anticipation of the band's performance.

To hear Lamb Of God shred their way through a dozen or so songs is to re-evaluate what your perception of what American metal is and can become. Drawing equally from their debut, "New American Gospel," and their sophomore effort, "As The Palaces Burn," Lamb Of God kept the momentum going at all costs. Lamb Of God actually played one song from their album when they were know as Burn The Priest in a slightly different line-up, but you'd likely have not noticed too much difference in the band's approach if you weren't familiar with the band.

I wish I had bothered to keep track of the songs the band chose to play, but I'm not afraid to admit I abandoned my journalistic duties just to simply revel in the metallic maelstrom that Lamb Of God struck forth with this evening. I do remember "11th Hour," "Blood Junkie," and "Black Label" being particularly impressive. In any case, Lamb Of God's technically precise style actually gains a certain energetic edge in the live setting which pushes the band's intensity to even greater heights whereas some bands actually drop a notch in the live setting due to the energy leading to rather sloppy performances. The fact that Lamb Of God can retain their ridiculously tight approach in concert speaks well of their abilities.

With more performances like the one I witnessed this evening Lamb Of God will easily back up my contention that the band are the new reigning kings of American metal. I highly recommend Lamb Of God's latest studio effort "As The Palaces Burn" and I certainly can say you'll get your moneys worth when the band visits a venue near you. For more information visit

Hail to my friends Kirk and Chris for the company and stimulating conversation - nothing like navigating unknown streets in Baltimore, eh? Hail to Dennis Solomon and the Lamb Of God guys for the candid cheer. Hail to the Ottobar for providing a larger venue to showcase musical acts that are too big for the small clubs and unlikely to garner space in larger venues due to the extreme nature of their music.

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.