Six days ago The Agony Scene had never even played a show in the British Isles, but judging by the ecstatic reaction of a surprisingly full Astoria you’d think London was a regular haunt for the Oklahoma natives.
While Forever Abandoned is greeted with delight, there are a plenty of unfamiliar numbers in their short set, and the synchronised hardcore guitar flailing action soon wears off.
This is less than can be said for the enduring novelty of the teenage contingent of wannabe hardcore dancers in the crowd, whose whirling arms and thrashing legs get obliterated by leather jacket-clad bikers who swat them out of the mosh-pit with a mere flex of their biceps.
The Agony Scene’s closing song has been demanded by the more vocal members of the audience for the duration of their set, and as the crunching lead begins there is but one word to describe this fine example of metal – battering. Drawing the very best in Mike Williams’ hoarse yet guttural screech, this eagerly anticipated slice of metalcore leaves many a head nodding in appreciation of a newly discovered band. All in all, a refreshingly open-minded response from a crowd who are mainly here to see the incredibly hirsute, “no frills” headliners.
Devildriver‘s set is initiated by a gritty roar – the signature growl of Mr Dez Fafara, formerly of Coal Chamber fame. Having survived the abuse and general lack of response to his latest outfit’s debut record, the persevering little (no really, he’s all of 5’5″) rocker has gone and created a beast of a sophomore effort in the shape of The Fury Of Our Maker’s Hand, which tonight’s set showcases with near note-perfect precision.
Driving Down The Darkness and Sin & Sacrifice are two fine newer numbers, giving the metal masses gathered here the hope that Dez may have finally ditched his gothy nu-metal days for good. And as if that wasn’t enough, Dez wins quote of the night (along with crowd’s most deafening cheer) when making his opinion clear on the infiltration of hardcore “dance” moves into the metal pit:
“And I don’t wanna see none of that emo, hardcore gymnastic s**t tonight! If you wanna learn Martial Arts… go school yourself son!”
Lamb Of God enter to a sea of red lights, billowing smoke and an Islamic prayer blasting through the PA. Despite their deceptively divine moniker, the Virginia based metal junkies are here to proselytise no other dogma than that of “Pure American Heavy Metal”; and despite a slightly ropey sound to start, Laid To Rest has the crowd fixated within minutes.
Even if they are preaching to the converted, Now You’ve Got Something To Die For still evokes adoration, placing draw-dropping riffage either side of some of the finest old school thrash drumming witnessed since Metallica played here in tight black trousers all those years ago.
What I’ve Become and Vigil are two other notable moments, the latter offering a brief respite of clean picking on the six-string before a barrage of distortion once again sends the floor of the Astoria into chaotic pandemonium, leaving security to haul a seemingly endless mass of bodies over the barriers for the remainder of the evening’s proceedings.