Some may say that the very culture of Indian rock and metal music was built on cover songs. Even the best and biggest bands in the scene today had to start off somewhere, and that “somewhere” was more often than not a jam room, garage, or a band mate’s house, where they would test the waters by playing songs by THEIR favourite bands; usually Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Pantera, and the like. Although our metal bands have largely left that behind to make their own names with their own great songs, they wouldn’t rule out one big, blow-out tribute to the Metal Gods that inspired them. Case in point, the Storm Breed Festival’s Tribute to Lamb of God that happened on August 16th at the Indigo Live Music Bar in Bangalore.
The tribute was helmed by a [literally] devout bunch of musicians: Bangalore-based “Christian metal” band Final Surrender, known in the scene for their eclectic metalcore sound and tight live performances. Moreover, they were joined by three big-name guest vocalists through the course of their setlist, who we’re going to talk about later on.
Despite some trouble at Indigo Live’s gates which led to the actual gig starting only at 9pm, the show started off well enough. Final Surrender got off to a blistering start with “In Your Words”, going on to blaze through fan favourites like “Laid to Rest”, “Ruin”, and of course, the perennial “Redneck”. Bassist Eric G Martin and guitarist James Stephenus kept the low-end, riffs and distortion rock-steady throughout, allowing for the rest of the band to work their magic on Lamb of God’s greatest hits. Drummer Jared Sandhy and lead guitarist Sanjay Kumar deserve special mention, with the former missing nary a beat even on faster tracks like “Set to Fail”, while the latter played his riffs, leads and solos with aplomb. As for their enigmatic frontman Joseph Samuel… there were moments when he almost went out of control with his frenzied vocal and performance style, but he still did justice to Randy Blythe’s signature vocals.
Another thing that really worked in the band’s favour was the excellent live sound; crisp, clear, and rarely muddled up during the more chaotic songs in Final Surrender’s set. The best part was that it didn’t try to ape Lamb Of God’s leaner, meaner sound and guitar tones, instead opting to preserve Final Surrender’s thicker, more metalcore sound. It also helped that the event had a drum raiser to actually let us see the drummer for once. In any case, the band had the crowd hooked, and even got them singing the iconic lines from songs like “Omerta” along with them.
But what of the three big-name vocalists I mentioned earlier? Storm Breed [and in all honesty, this blog itself] had been teasing their appearance for a couple of weeks before, and they didn’t disappoint. Just about halfway into the set, the audience was greeted by Abhijith Rao of Chennai-based prog-death metallers Escher’s Knot, while Samuel slinked off to the green room for a much-deserved breather. Rao then proceeded to scream his head off to “Black Label” – one of the earliest LoG tunes – perfectly mirroring Randy Blythe’s savage screams of that period. His was one of the more “faithful” covers in the set that way.
About four songs later, Final Surrender were joined by the hirsute Munz of self-styled “Kannur Metal” band The Down Troddence for an epic rendition of “Walk With Me in Hell”. His performance was as hyperactive and expressive as ever, as he lent his slightly deeper growls to the song and whipped the crowd into frenzy. Munz has always been a crowd favourite where frontmen are concerned, and this most popular of LoG songs only exemplified his and the band’s performances.
Barely a song when by after this [“Dead Seeds”, FYI] when Final Surrender, possibly saving the best for last, invited none other than Gaurav Basu of Inner Sanctum on-stage for “Blood of the Scribe”. The Acid Toad of Bangalore started firing on all cylinders, beer in hand and delivering his typical roaring vocals to an ecstatic crowd. Basu even took a moment to have a “beer bath” by pouring said drink on his head, like he was an overheating radiator in need of a drastic liquid cool-down.
And so, after Samuel’s return to the stage, Final Surrender ended their mammoth set with the raw and emotional “512” and “King Me”. It almost made you feel bad for the portion of the audience who were held back at the door at the beginning of the event [for contrived reasons that I won’t get into here]. Nevertheless, the sweaty and tired yet emotionally exhilarated band capped off the tribute on a high note, later leaving the crowd to disperse with dishevelled hair and big grins on their faces.
Oh, and group pictures and a HUGE late-night dinner for the band followed as well.
See the Full Photo Gallery of this Tribute here!