It’s been a long time coming, three years to be precise, but, even with line-up changes, by the time the “State of Unrest” tour rolls into Manchester, the majority of people packed into Manchester Academy are, in the words of Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe, “ready to tear this fucking room down!”
Who better to kickstart the carnage than Richmond (VA) crossover thrashers Municipal Waste? Now, let’s see what we have here… Denim? Check. Leather? Check. Studs? Check. Circle Pits? Check. Brilliant crossover thrash songs about dumb shit? Check. With feet placed firmly on monitors and devil horns pointing to the sky, the Richmond crew smashed through “Headbanger Face Rip.”
In a mischievous mood, frontman Tony Foresta recalled their infamous Bloodstock set before encouraging a sea of crowd surfers over the barrier to which Manchester duly complied. They wrapped up their half-hour with the Muni Waste anthem “Born To Party,” and with the words “Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up” ringing around the room, the band exited stage left having done precisely that.
Next up were German thrash veterans Kreator, who delivered exactly the kind of muscle-loosening thrash that you’ve come to expect from Mille and his bandmates. Slamming through a set packed with both thrash classics and newer nose-breakers, the band delivered tracks like “Enemy of God” with the class and the brute force you’d expect from a master of the genre. The pummelling delivery of newer numbers like “666 World Divided” was like a punch to the gut, while the anthemic “Flag Of Hate” had bodies slamming around in the pit like we were back in the ’80s European thrash heyday again.
Speaking of thrash classics, there was only one way for Kreator to wrap up their time on stage, and that was to hurtle through a ferocious “Pleasure To Kill.” They did precisely that, showing why they were not only heralded as one of the forerunners of European thrash in the ’80s but, here, over three decades later, they are still untouchable.
As the last strains of the intro to “Memento Mori” bellows out from the stage, Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe cups his hand to his ear before the band slams into their set. It’s a now familiar opening statement from the group who follow it up with equally unapologetic renditions of “Ruin” and “Walk With Me In Hell.” Blythe switches from a serial killer stare to bouncing around the stage, whipping the Manchester metal community into a headbanging frenzy.
Although the level at which the Richmond metal titans batter through “Ditch” and “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For” almost feels like business as usual since drummer Art Cruz has become firmly entrenched in the band, adding his brutal beat, things in the Lamb Of God camp seem to have shifted up a gear. Tracks like “Omens” and “11th Hour” are delivered with unrelenting fury, while the closing onslaught of “Vigil,” “Laid To Rest,” and “Redneck” is as close to metal perfection as you could want.
Looping back around to Blythe’s comment about the long wait for this tour to happen due to Covid, there may have been a few changes to this tour package along the way, but as a bruised and battered mass of fans rolls out into the Manchester night, the trail of destruction these three bands leave in their wake as they head off to another city shows that all had a good night.