First off, let me start by saying that I had the flu all week; I really wasn't up for a show. Saturday (the day of the show) was the first day out of seven that I had woken up without a fever. Had this not been Dethklok, the greatest cartoon band (and one of the greatest metal bands of all time), I would definitely not have gone. But in the name of metal I dared venture from my sickbed...and boy, was I glad I did.
High on Fire was playing when we arrived and I assumed they were only two or three songs into their set because they played for quite awhile after we got there. I had limited experience with this band but they played an excellent set. If you haven't ever heard of them and you're into stoner metal/sludge metal they are definitely worth the listen.
After High on Fire's set I took the chance to look around the venue a bit. It was my first time at the Hamburg Fairgrounds Agri-Center and it seemed a very appropriate venue for a Dethklok or Mastodon show. It was more a large arena set-up with the stage high off the ground and further away from the audience than in a small club.
Converge played next and also managed to play a killer set. Unfortunately, they were less well-received than High on Fire as I predicted they would be. Don't get me wrong -- I love Converge and there were definitely some other fans there, but I think the majority of stoner metal fans probably don't appreciate their blend of modern metalcore/hardcore as much as others do. This didn't slow Converge down a bit, though, and they played as great a set as I have ever seen and only stopped the brutality to give lead singer Jake Bannon a chance to explain the meaning of his songs. The set list was inclusive and included everything I wanted to hear, which was easy because I've only been a fan since You Fail Me. What limited experience I do have with their prior material at least allowed me to recognize a couple songs off of Jane Doe and I think one from When Forever Comes Crashing. Mostly, I just wanted to hear them play "Dark Horse" from Axe to Fall (which they did).
Mastodon played next and absolutely shredded through their set. They played the Crack the Skye album in its entirety followed by two songs from Blood Mountain and one from Leviathan and Remission each. Since this was a Dethklok show, there was, of course, a large projector screen behind the stage and Mastodon had a little movie about the concept of their Crack the Skye album playing on it (it's something to do with a paraplegic man and his ability to predict the future I think; I glanced at the Wikipedia entry once...). The only grievance I have is that they didn't play the song "Blood and Thunder" from the Leviathan album. I suppose I shouldn't have anticipated it being played but I couldn't help but hope since this is the first chance I had to see them and I've been a fan since Leviathan.
Finally, it was Dethklok's turn. I was particularly curious as to how they were going to do the show this time around. Last time I saw them it was in a much smaller club on the 2007 with Chimaira and Soilent Green. At that show the stage was kept dark and emphasis was put on the images in the background. This show's format was slightly different, though. The cartoon band performed on the screen in the background as they did before, but this time frontman Brendan Small and crew actually had more lighting on them. It was apparent this was no longer so much about the cartoon as it was about Brendan Small and his music, as it should be. Dethklok's lyrical content is irrelevant when judging the quality of their music. Any way you slice it, Dethalbum II was one of the better metal releases this year and Brendan Small is an excellent musician.
I would have given this show a 10 but the gags where the same as they were on the 2007 tour and they didn't play "I Tamper with Evidence at the Murder Site of Odin. " And I fucking love that song.