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Gods of metal

Lamb of God.

Lamb of God.

If you're a fan of heavy metal music, you've probably heard of the American band Lamb of God, who were in the country last week playing gigs in most major cities.

Lead singer Randy Blythe made mainstream headlines in June last year when he was arrested in the Czech Republic and charged with the manslaughter of 19-year-old fan Daniel Nosek.

Nosek died of injuries the court later ruled were the result of him being pushed from the stage by Blythe and a security guard at a 2010 concert at Prague's Abaton club.

Blythe was acquitted, a Prague court ruling in March this year he was not criminally liable for Nosek's death. That decision was later upheld on appeal.

Blythe is widely considered to be an articulate, intelligent man who found himself in a situation common when fans invade the stage at smaller venues.

It's fair to say heavy metal musicians have been a bit jumpy since Pantera's founding guitarist Dimebag Darrell was shot dead by a fan onstage during a show with his new band, Damageplan, in Ohio back in 2004.

It's also fair to say, no matter how casual and warranted Blythe's action was, his trial and the words "heavy metal singer" and "dead fan" in the same sentence perpetuate an impression in non-fans' minds the subculture is shrouded in violence.

In a pleasing counterpoint to this caricature, a friend of mine attended Lamb of God's gig at the University of New South Wales' Roundhouse last month and reported he was once again struck by how polite, collegiate and non-violent the crowd of mainly young men was.

Some people may find this observation difficult to resolve with what seems like the ritualised brutality of slam-dancing, mosh and circle pits (language warning on that link) and phenomena like the Wall of Death.

At the Sydney gig, fans did the traditional Wall of Death to the song Black Label and I strongly encourage you to watch this clip through until the 30-second mark when the wall forms. It's spectacular and made me shout in surprise when I first saw it.

Now, you'd think this sort of thing would only encourage violence, but I know from my own experience, it's more likely to dissipate it in keyed-up and drunk young men.

The thing that struck me about the two clips I've linked to above is that the crowd acts like pretty much any other large herd of animal - it's almost like watching migrating bison or spooked gazelles.

A certain type of young man (and woman) likes a bit of rough-housing and well-supervised concerts like this strike me as a perfectly acceptable way to burn a bit of energy and remind yourself you're mortal.

If you've ever been to a heavy metal gig, you'd know there's a real camaraderie amongst fans, and after they've spent two hours slamming into each other, the usual result is dripping sweat, back slaps and massive smiles.

My mate made the observation that if you set up supervised mosh-pits in the more violent parts of our capital cities, you'd probably halve street crime and assaults.

After he was acquitted earlier this year, Randy Blythe took to his Tumblr account to appeal to fans to play safe at his gigs, writing: 

"If you are a fan and are going to a Lamb of God show or ANY SHOW where there will be moshing, crowd surfing, etc., know that what you are doing carries a risk. Use your brain - if it is too rough for you, get out before you get hurt.

"If you are moshing and someone falls down, PICK THEM UP. We have stopped shows before because people have been getting hurt, and we will do it again. This is our community, and we should take care of each other.

"A show is a place we are supposed to be together, having a good time, supporting one another. The real world will beat you down enough - we don’t need to get stomped on at a show. Give each other a hand."

The Lamb of God has spoken.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.  

54 comments

  • heavy metal and/or hard rock, i enjoy the music but never did like the live shows.
    something about the spectators that that's not my thing.

    Commenter
    Victorious Painter
    Date and time
    October 02, 2013, 12:14PM
    • Listening to Slayer's "Decade of Aggression", LIVE CD, Singer Tom Araya says "you guys down the front here, keep an eye on each other alright? If you see someone goin' down, help them out alright? That's what you're here to do - help each other out.
      (then screams)
      This is a song called WARRR ENSEMMMMBLE"

      Classic.

      Commenter
      nothing to do with the above quote..
      Location
      ...but this is far more interesting than his whinge
      Date and time
      October 02, 2013, 3:36PM
  • I saw the Cult on Saturday and whilst by no means a metal act, they were (on this occasion) a hard rock band and the 95% male crowd were surprisingly polite and friendly. One thing I noticed that seems to be missing from most new music is that each song featured at least one, maybe two blistering guitar solos. Where are the solos gen Y?

    Commenter
    naards
    Location
    perth
    Date and time
    October 02, 2013, 12:39PM
    • That's because Billy Duffy is a rock god \m/

      Commenter
      Kent
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      October 02, 2013, 5:08PM
  • Completely agree........and let's not forget although it is getting harder and feeling it a little bit more, it is not just a young man or women's game.....20+ years of doing this and still loving it. The wall of death clip....classic.

    Commenter
    Brett
    Date and time
    October 02, 2013, 12:43PM
    • Metalheads are usually marshmallows of people. The music is angry and noisy and largely cannot be understood. The fans are most often very sweet and very considerate.
      Unfortunately it is one of the subcultures that gets the rough end of the pineapple when it comes to being seen as scary and bad. The stuff about Judas Priest or Black Sabbath or Alice Cooper inciting the Devil or encouraging violence is just as silly as saying video games encourage people to be violent in the real world.
      The people who are violent in the real world are the ones who often blend in with the crowd and don't give themselves an outlet for their frustrations aside from being violent.
      Randy Blythe is one voice who is demonstrating consideration in a one subculture.

      Commenter
      M
      Date and time
      October 02, 2013, 12:44PM
      • I've been to a couple of Lamb of God concerts, and you've nailed it. Things get really hectic, but everyone looks after one another. The band's number one concern is safety, the second is fun and tearing the place up. It's not for everyone, but I love it.

        A side-note - a lot of metal bands consist of super nice guys. I'll never forget attending a Devildriver concert shortly after the Black Saturday bush-fires (Lamb of God were the band playing afterwards), and the lead singer demanded a minute's silence. He got it.

        Commenter
        Andrew
        Date and time
        October 02, 2013, 12:47PM
        • saw helmet play a few years back in a small venue. the lead mosher was a big guy with a heart of gold who got a big hug from the drummer after the show. classic.

          Commenter
          beno
          Location
          campin'out
          Date and time
          October 02, 2013, 2:45PM
      • True. Good friendly violent fun. No. 1 rule, if someone is on the floor, help em up. No. 2. If your girlfriend wants to be right up front, don't go all meat head when people bump into you. If you don't want to mosh, get the hell outta there. BONDED BY BLOOD!

        Commenter
        Bustin
        Location
        Earth
        Date and time
        October 02, 2013, 12:49PM
        • As a dedicated metal fan, I can say with absolute confidence, heavy metal gigs, and right there in the mosh, are one of the safest places to be.
          Sure you might cop an elbow to the face, but if someone falls over you'll see no less than 5 people pick that person up. This is the epitome of mateship. It might be hard for people to believe, but it's true.

          Keep it steel \m/

          Commenter
          Dude
          Location
          Hellbourne \m/
          Date and time
          October 02, 2013, 12:50PM

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