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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Lamb brings hot and heavy metal to Grove

February 24, 2007|Greg Burk | Special to The Times

Virginia's Lamb of God didn't just take a random left turn to become one of the world's five hottest metal projectiles. Every needlepoint guitar figure, vocal dinosaur belch and barreling drum rhythm works because it all works together.

Sporting backwoods-poacher excrescences of hair and beard Thursday night at the Grove of Anaheim, guitarists Mark Morton and William Adler, vocalist Randy Blythe, bassist John Campbell and drummer Chris Adler showed how it's done. Simple, really: You divide the sound so the instruments interlock but don't overlap -- minimum toe crushing, maximum power. And, of course, you've got to have great riffs, precision timing and total commitment.

Blythe stormed the stage as if facing off a mad croc and firehosed his scary low-high roar array while Lamb of God slammed out the dynamic tour de force "Ashes of the Wake," the fast-blazing "As the Palaces Burn" and master-class renditions of new material from its latest and best album, "Sacrament." The sold-out audience, draped in acres of Lamb T-shirts, pumped devil-horned fists, listening with such fire-eyed intensity that those in attendance almost forgot to slam. This is the new counterculture.

Blythe jumped in momentarily with the opening band, France's Gojira, ramping up its energy with exactly the kind of crowd connection its static, cycling slow-metal normally doesn't quite achieve. The Gojira dudes are clearly loved for their originality and solidarity; keep watching them.

Second up, Machine Head (an ever-evolving project of former Vio-lence guitarist Robert Flynn) was a welcome slap in the face, generating substantial vertical movement in the crowd. The new "Aesthetics of Hate" drew nods with its sneer against metal haters, and an unusual wah-wah-inflected guitar sound expanded by psychedelic touches made these vets stand out.

Trivium won the award for longest sound check followed by worst sound; regardless, the Florida-based band's devoted fans seemed capable of discerning which song was being performed at any given moment.

*

Lamb of God

Where: The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

When: 7:15 p.m. Sunday

Price: $22.50

Contact: (213) 380-5005

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