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The “Metal Tour of the Year” Invades the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston,Michigan

Megadeth © John Swider Please do not alter image

Clarkston,Mi.(Sept 19,2021)-Metal music is very diverse in its genres and sub-genres, so there can be many different opinions who is the best of the best based on your own preferences. However, very few bands that have reached the apex, christened to be the elite of all metal music and chiseled into the Mount Rushmore of the thrash metal genre. One of those bands that have attained that legendary status is Megadeth. Critics and fans alike simply cannot deny their greatness and influence they have cast throughout their illustrious career. As announced in 2019, these music Icons have joined forces with Lamb of God and created the ultimate metal tour, and bluntly that is how they named it – The Metal Tour of the Year. Special guests  on this once in a lifetime tour are Trivium and Hatebreed, the later who replaced the originally announced In Flames who had visa difficulties that unfortunately left them unable to travel stateside. Sunday night it was Clarkston, Michigan’s DTE Energy Music Theatres turn for an onslaught of metal laden music euphoria.

Lamb of God has been slowly ascending the metal ladder for twenty-plus years and continue to strive for the pinnacle. In the eyes of most metal mavens, they are perceived as heir-apparent when it comes to filling the void of the now retired legends Slayer. So when the lights went down and the bright blue lights illuminated the bands name along with the dark and ominous silhouette of frontman Randy Blythe, fans instantly recognized they were in for a very special performance. Perched on his metal platform hidden from view, Blythe stood and delivered the monotone beginning intro to their hit song, “Memento More,” from the bands latest self-titled studio album. With a thundering explosion, the curtain dropped and the pent up energy of Lamb of God was fully unleashed.  It’s this apex of pure, raw energy that encapsulates metal heads and will instantly turn a mass of reserved individuals into a collective group with relentless drive that bands, such as Lamb of God, feed off of emotionally and dynamically.

Lamb of God performed a selection of tracks from their 2020 critically acclaimed self titled record while still paying homage to five other albums from their eclectic metal library. Vocalist Randy Blythe’s vocal range continues to set the standard in metal music, with time and physical agility being overly kind to him the last four decades. The high energy, sixty five minute set found Blythe continuously in motion whether it was wind-milling his signature dreadlocks, running across the stage side to side or perched atop a drum riser while belting out lyrics to one of Lambs signature offerings. We all could only wish that all front men would have the same drive as Blythe, as his over the top performance night after night leaves little doubt that he commands the stage like no one else in the business.

Although the Lambs set was short by comparison, they still brought all the energy, blistering guitar solos and pyrotechnics you’d expect on any tour that they were properly headlining.  Fan favorites, “Walk With Me in Hell,” from 2006’s Sacrament and “Laid to Rest,” from 2004’s Ashes of the Wake, had the surprisingly small general admission mosh pit churning and every t-shirt wearing individual in the crowd head banging right along throughout the potent 12 song set.

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It was over 30 years ago that Dave Mustaine founded Megadeth, in the process helping to pioneer and define the sound that would become known the world over as “thrash metal.”  Tonight, in the suburbs of Detroit, the music world was reminded why the bands 1985 debut Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good! helped create a sub-genre that still packs the fans in venues decades later.

Conversely, in sharp contrast to the energy laden set from Lamb of God, metal Icons Megadeth took a more subdued approach and relied on their years of live performances to provide the evenings energy when they arrived on stage. There were no sonic booms or curtains, only a very open stage with a wall of Marshall amps as the backdrop. Opening with the seminal “Hangar 18,” from their iconic thrash album Rust in Peace, it was evident from the onset that this was going to be a statement performance on a different level than any of the earlier sets. Deep cuts, like “The Conjuring” from Peace Sells…But, Who’s Buying, were unfortunately eliminated from earlier tour stops and replaced with more  main stream selections that casual fans would be more familiar with. Megadeth relied on the classics such as “Sweating Bullets,” from their mainstream breakthrough album, Countdown to Extinction  along with powerhouses “She-Wolf” and “Trust” off Cryptic Writings. Dave Mustaine and his band were exceptional throughout the performance with each member note-perfect and clearly relishing the chance to be back in front of a crowd after a prolonged  hiatus. Having recently beat throat cancer,  Mustaine’s voice was as strong and as resonating as ever, particularly on the back to back burners, “Symphony of Destruction” and “Dystophia.”  Subversively, Megadeth’s set also unfolded at a lackadaisical pace, with significant pauses between cuts. It felt somewhat anticlimactic in light of the sustained ferocity of Lamb of God’s corrosive performance. Megadeth closed out their set with “Peace Sells” and “Holy Wars…the  Punishment Due,” though it’s certain the crowd would have stayed for another hours worth of music had the band been so obliged. The momentum built up during these two songs in itself was incredible and certainly a testament to the power of Megadeth and the devoted fan base they have cultivated over the years.

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As the night came to an end, Dave Mustaine thanked all the bands that performed earlier in the night then reached out to the fans by saying, “but most of all I want to thank all of you our loyal fans!” As band joined hands in the air and took a final bow we are left wondering if this is Megadeth’s last hurrah. But with a new album already in the can and outfits such as Lamb of God pushing the genre forward, we can always hope for another Metal Tour of the Year in the not so distant future………John Swider