Lamb Of God, Devildriver, Shadows Fall & High On Fire @ The Big Top (Sydney), 12 Dec 2009

Australia's metal fans have been quite spoiled with the array of bands who are able to tour down here due to our strong dollar and the lineup featuring Lamb Of God, Devildriver, Shadows Fall & High On Fire was bang for the buck and had something for the majority of metal fans.

Sydney's Big Top at Luna Park was somewhat of a black t-shirt convention with young and old all there together to see some different types of metal ranging from groove metal, metalcore, and thrash, to even some good old stoner metal.

First up was Oakland, California's own High On Fire who were a late addition to the bill and really stuck out like a sore thumb when put up against the bill's bands on paper. But live, however, this three-piece just came out like a cyclone and stormed away with their own unique brand of stoner-infused rock.

Despite their short set time, the band played like they were playing in front of thousands of people and looked pretty genuinely happy to be there. The setlist was comprised of material from their last two albums - Cometh Down Hessian and Devilution from Blessed Black Wings and Rumors Of War, Waste Of Tiamat and Fury Whip from Death Is This Communion as well as Frost Hammer, a new track from their upcoming untitled record.

During Fury Whip, Frontman Matt Pike's guitar decided to cut out, so the rhythm section of bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensel went off into a heavy jam session. This kept the many fans at the front happy: there even was a circle pit during their set, which was an interesting suprise.

High On Fire were very well recieved and will hopefully warrant a return to our country in the near future.

Following a quick changeover, Shadows Fall came on with enthusiasm and a windmill of flying dreadlocks. The band delivered a tight and intense performance of their crossover styled metal which always translates well to the live arena.

The setlist was compromised of a little bit of everything including older material like Destroyer Of Senses and The Light That Blinds alongside new material from their latest release Retribution in Still I Rise and A Public Execution. The band also played a little bit of Pantera's A New Level; as it was the unfortunate anniversary of Dimebag's death, the crowd loved that and went insane.

As frontman Brian Fair proclaimed "This is not just a show, this is a party", truer words have never been spoken. The band were really getting into it and fed off the rabid crowd in front of them, whom Fair got in a chant of "Shadows- Motherfucking- Goddamn Fall" after one of the songs. Guitarists Jon Donais and Matt Bachand were on fire and the rhythm section of bassist Paul Romanko and drummer Jason Bittner kept everything moving along without a flaw.

The only downside with Shadows Fall was that their set was too short and they should have been higher up the bill. Here's hoping they return for a proper headlining tour some time soon.

Although High On Fire and Shadows Fall got pretty decent crowds, the room really started to fill up just before Devildriver came onto the stage.

Always ones for putting on a great live show, Devildriver were plagued with horrible sound right from the get-go, which was a real shame. It was especially noticable with frontman Dez Fafara's vocals.

Still, that didn't stop the band from putting on a tight performance and it didn't stop their rabid fans from singing along, moshing and circle pitting.

As always Devildriver mixed up their setlist playing old favourites like I Could Care Less, Clouds Over California alongside newer cuts such as Pray For Villains and Fate Stepped In, which fit well in the live set.

Once Devildriver finished their set, the anticipation started to fill the air as the headliners were about to take the stage, and the crowd, which ranged from young kids all the way to the older thrashers, were ready to go insane.

Well, their anticipation was rewarded when Lamb Of God smashed right into In Your Words - a track that really works well live.

In comparison to their last few tours, Lamb Of God have incorporated some what of a production with a stage set with ramps and a lot more lighting, which could somewhat compensate for the band who just stands there and plays their instruments which they do very, very well.

Frontman Randy Blythe knows how to get the crowd amped and they hung on every word and judging by the reaction they got, the crowd would have done anything he said while circle pitting, mosh pitting and plain beating the living shit out of each other.

As this is the headlining tour for their Wrath album, the bulk of the set was material from Wrath such as Set To Fail, Dead Seeds, Grace, Contractor and Reclamation along side fan favourites such as Ruin, Redneck, Walk With Me In Hell, Now You've Got Something To Die For and the Wall-of-Death inducing Black Label.

Lamb Of God were good, but after a while, it just sounds the same to me. The hardcore fans would not have cared and had the time of their life.

Once their set finished, there was plenty of satisfied fans who got their money's worth, shouting and yelling drunkenly into the night wading back into the sea of black t-shirts.

Overall, the performance was enjoyable for the most part despite problems which sadly can happen sometimes, High On Fire and Shadows Fall each hit one out of the park, Devildriver did their best despite the sound and Lamb Of God put on a good performance albeit getting a bit samey at times.