Metallica / Lamb of God / The Sword GM Place, Vancouver BC, December 2

Metallica / Lamb of God / The Sword GM Place, Vancouver BC, December 2
It's no small task opening for Metallica, but hopefuls the Sword did a more than capable job: their throwback stoner sound filled up the arena nicely, even if they seemed a bit out of their element on such a huge stage. Lamb of God played it up like the vets they've become, showcasing one new tune amongst a great 45-minute set. They moved around the stage like it was theirs, but we all know who's show it really was.

Taking full advantage of the strange yet fun setup, which found the stage, with mics placed around all four sides, in the middle of the room, the legends of metal came out in full force, launching into "That Was Just Your Life" and following it up with "The End of the Line," both off of the recent Death Magnetic. A bold move, considering the sheer length of these new songs, but it worked great as an opener. From there it was a healthy mix of classics ("For Whom the Bell Tolls," "One," "Battery," "Master of Puppets," "No Remorse") and new material ("Cyanide," "The Day that Never Comes," "Broken, Beat and Scarred"), all delivered with a surprising amount of energy, as if these guys are still in their 20s.

The new material comes across better live than on the album, where the strange production and over-long songs get distracting. Noticeably, the band played nothing off of Load, ReLoad or St. Anger, but I didn't hear any complaints.

By the time Metallica played their final encore, a loose and lively version of "Seek and Destroy," with the house lights on for the whole song and a sea of Metallica beach balls tossed down from the rafters onto an unsuspecting audience, their smiles said it all - this is a Metallica celebrating life, not the Metallica that has been celebrating death for so many years. And they've never sounded better.