Originally announced in 2019, the Metal Tour Of The Year planned for that same summer, co-headlined by Megadeth and Lamb of God, was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, much to the delight of the metal community at large, the two year long wait finally ended on Sunday night as the tour made its way to Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater – an outdoor amphitheater at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, Long Island, New York.
Due to reported international visa issues, one of the two others originally billed special guests, In Flames, was unable to join the tour. Fans in attendance at the Long Island venue did not have anything to fear though, as Hatebreed, their replacement, was able to step up to the challenge. A heavy metal hardcore band formed in 1994 from nearby Bridgeport, Connecticut, Hatebreed are frontman Jamey Jasta, guitarist Frank Novinec, bassist Chris Beattie, guitarist Wayne Lozinak and Matt Byrne behind the kit.
Shortly after 6:00 pm, Hatebreed took the stage and started with “Empty Promises” from the 1997 album “Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire.” While the amphitheater was slowly filling in with metal fans from the Tri-State area and beyond, Jasta acknowledged the crowd. “Thanks again for showing up early everybody. You got a great night ahead of you. Sing your hearts out, dance your ass off, bang your head off.” The band then blasted into “Looking Down The Barrel Of Today,” from their 2016 album “The Concrete Confessional.“ While photographing the stage action in front of me, I also enjoyed witnessing the stream of crowd surfers behind me. Concertgoers of all ages seemed to continually emerge from the center of the mosh pit and ride the wave towards the front rail with the help of their fellow metal heads, until being collected safely into the arms of waiting security.
Spanning songs from their entire catalog, “I Will Be Heard” was performed next, taken from their 2002 album “Perseverance.” After some other tunes, and following a second round of band introductions, Jasta exclaimed, “This is our last song, so we need everybody moving, everybody jumping and everybody fucking singing. Are you with us?” With a mosh pit that had been steadily increasing in size, and now energized by Jasta’s words, “Destroy Everything” (a 2006 track from their fourth studio album “Supremacy”) closed their set in grand metal fashion.
After Hatebreed bid farewell to the crowd, who was now filling the seats in droves, Trivium, a metal band formed in 1999 from Orlando, Florida, took command of the amphitheater. In addition to vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy, also known for his poetic style of lyrics, Trivium are guitarist Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto on bass and drummer Alex Bent.
Taken from their upcoming tenth studio album, “In The Court Of The Dragon,” which is scheduled to be released on October 8, 2021, Trivium commenced their high-energy set with the first released single of the same name. With this show coming the day after the Blue Ridge Rock Festival in Danville, Virginia, Heafy announced that there was a competition between the New Yorkers in attendance, and the Virginians from the night before. He urged the Long Island crowd to top the intensity level from their predecessors. “On this next song, all that we need is everyone jumping off their feet to the rhythm of the fucking beat,” before launching into “The Heart From Your Hate” (from the 2017 album “The Sin And The Sentence”).
Before unveiling their current single, “Feast Of Fire,” Heafy continued to give the audience tips as to how they could still win the intensity level competition against their festival foe from Saturday night. “Whether you know [this song]or not, heads are banging, fists are pumping, bodies moving. We still have Virginia from yesterday to beat, my friends. We ain’t there yet.”
A mix of soaring and crushing guitar riffs, Trivium continued to smash the airwaves until their the finale with “In Waves,” the title track from their 2011 album. It was a sight to behold as the entire general admission floor crowd, full of loyal Trivium fans, had knowingly already began to crouch to the floor. This being my first Trivium show, I wondered what they were all doing, until Heafy instructed any remaining people still standing to do the same. Then, once the song kicked in, the entire crowd simultaneously leapt to their feet and the mosh pit was in a complete whirling frenzy. With the sun now having set over Zach’s Bay, the theater’s natural backdrop, nightfall enshrouded the Jones Beach Theater. Surveying the audience after Trivium’s set, I noticed that we all needed a break to catch our collective breath before the first of the two headliners, Lamb of God, took to the stage.
Originally formed in 1994 as Burn the Priest, Lamb of God are a thrash metal, death metal and hardcore punk band from Richmond, Virginia, consisting of lead singer Randy Blythe, bassist John Campbell, guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler and drummer Art Cruz. Well over a year after their self-titled album was released on Epic Records in June 2020, Lamb of God was finally able to perform the songs live on this tour, unleashing their new material to the masses.
With the atmosphere now intense with excitement as the now full-capacity crowd waited in anticipation for the Lamb of God set to begin, the band walked onto the stage as the instrumental intro to their new anthem, “Memento Mori,” was played. Later in the set, Blythe alerted the crowd. “For those of you who do not know, we are Lamb of God. We come from a little ways south from here, from Richmond mother fuckin’ Virginia. But we have returned to ‘Strong Island’ to do one thing and one thing only – completely fuck this place up. Are you ready to have a good time?” The sixth song of their set, “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For” from their 2004 album “Ashes of the Wake,” was revealed next, about the war in Iraq.
Like Trivium, this was also my first live encounter with Lamb of God, and I was completely captivated by Blythe’s stage presence. He never stopped running, jumping or windmilling his long dreadlocks for the entire 60+ minute set. With their set coming to a close, Blythe said “This next song is for each and every one of you. New York has been good to us straight from the beginning. I want to see a giant fucking circle pit down there. If you didn’t come to dance, get the fuck outta the way. Get off your fucking feet New York. Set this motherfucker off. Show them how we do this shit.Giant fucking circle pit. No one stands still, no one stays safe, completely fucking annihilate this place New York. This song is called “Red Neck” It was at that moment when the mosh pit transformed into a frenzied tornado of bodies twirling around and colliding heavily into one another, and more than occasionally, falling hard to the ground. However, time spent on the ground was short-lived, as the fallen ‘mosher’ was quickly pulled up to safety by the nearest witness, before happily joining the flowing circle of bodies yet again.
Last to take the stage for the night was Megadeth, one of heavy metal’s icons. The Metal Tour Of The Year is their first North American tour since 2017 and marks frontman Dave Mustaine’s return to the stage following his battle with, and recovery from, throat cancer in 2019. Formed in 1983 by Mustaine (the only remaining original member of the group) and bassist David Ellefson (who was fired from the band in May 2021 amid allegations of sexual misconduct), the current quartet is rounded out by longtime member Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro, Belgian drummer Dirk Verbeuren and touring bassist James LoMenzo.
Sporting a black signature Gibson Flying V throughout the night, with his trademark ginger locks blowing in the strong breeze coming off the bay, Mustaine addressed the crowd on the eve of his 60th birthday – “I managed to beat cancer. And as long as I make it through tonight, unless I have a really gnarly dream and it just kills me in my sleep, tomorrow’s gonna be my birthday.” It only took a few moments after this announcement for the entire 15,000 capacity crowd to serenade the metal legend with the “Happy Birthday” song. Mustaine responded, “I love you guys so much, thank you. You were just really out of key, you know. I just want to tell you thank you, thank you for everything.”
Megadeth’s set included twelve songs spanning across their nearly four decades of existence, including two tracks (“The Conjuring” and “Peace Sells”) off their second studio album “Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?” (1986). Die-hard fans in attendance were also not disappointed, with multiple selections performed from “Rust In Peace” (1990), “Countdown To Extinction” (1992), “Cryptic Writings” (1997) and “Dystopia” (2016). Vic Ratttlehead also thrilled the crowd when he made a guest appearance during the title track from “Dystopia”.
With no signs that the circle mosh pit which had formed four hours earlier would be breaking up anytime soon, the unforgettable night neared its end with “Tornado of Souls”, which included an epic guitar solo. And once the heavy guitar riff of the classic “Symphony of Destruction” began, the night was made complete, but they have more in store and the double punch of “Peace Sells” and “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” left everyone exhausted and satisfied. After Megadeth left the stage, metal fans with satisfied grins on all their faces began to exit the venue as the instrumental track “Silent Scorn” played over the house speakers, as it often does at a Megadeth show.
Empty Promises / Instinctive (Slaughterlust) / Smash Your Enemies / Ghosts of War / Perseverance / Looking Down the Barrel of Today / I Will Be Heard / Destroy Everything
In the Court of the Dragon / Catastrophist / IX / What the Dead Men Say / Down From the Sky / The Heart From Your Hate / Feast of Fire / In Waves
Lamb of God Setlist
Memento Mori / Ruin / Walk With Me in Hell / Resurrection Man / Now You’ve Got Something to Die For / Set to Fail / New Colossal Hate / 512 / Vigil / Contractor / Laid to Rest / Redneck
Hangar 18 / The Threat Is Real / Sweating Bullets / She-Wolf / The Conjuring / Trust / Conquer or Die! / Dystopia / Tornado of Souls / Symphony of Destruction / Peace Sells / Holy Wars… The Punishment Due