Metal Tour of the Year in Vegas, feat. Megadeth, Lamb of God & more

The Metal Tour of the Year kicked off its second leg at Vegas’ Michelob Ultra Arena! This tour includes co-headliners Megadeth and Lamb of God with special guests, Trivium and In Flames. I went to one of the shows on the first leg, but wasn’t able to stay for the full show, so of course I had to go to another to get the full experience! The closest city to us that the bands were stopping in was Las Vegas, so we figured ‘road-trip’!! We woke up super early, made the five-hour drive, got some $10 Vegas tattoos, had a near-death experience and still made it to the show on time!

What I love about big metal shows like this one is constantly running into our metal family throughout the night. We ran into Ra Diaz (bassist of Korn and Suicidal Tendencies), the “Metal Ambassador” himself, Jose Mangin, and lead singer of Hemlock, Chad.  

Chad of Hemlock with Top Shelf Music

In Flames kicked off the night: they were supposed to join Metal Tour on its first leg, but due pandemic restrictions at the time, they had to drop out. So, we were so happy to see them on this tour! They played “Cloud Connected”, “I Am Alone” and then closed out with “Take This Life”.

I’ve got a ‘core four’ of my favorite bands and Trivium is one of those! Their songs are just so intricate and different in my opinion, and that’s what really got me hooked on them. They opened up their set with “In The Court of the Dragon”, off their latest album of the same name. Lead singer Matt Heafy explained on his Twitch channel the day before the show that he had an ear infection and said that he could barely hear. If you’ve seen Trivium before, you could tell that Matt was a little off that night, but he still brought the energy! I’m impressed with him for just pushing through it and not canceling! I’m an old-school Trivium fan and love a lot of the songs from their earlier albums. The thing that sucks about that, though, is the probability of hearing my favorite songs live is low. That wasn’t the case for this night! They played “Throes of Perdition” (my personal favorite at the moment!) off Shogun and “Rain” off their second album Assendency. Of course, they have to close out their set with “In Waves”, too. During their intro “Capsizing the Sea”, they made everyone get down on the ground and then, when the song kicked in, everyone jumped up on “IN WAVVVVES”!!!

It’s one of my favorite songs to hear live and always the perfect way to end a set.

Once Trivium walked off the stage, the curtain went up for Lamb of God. I love the suspense of a curtain drop: all your senses are peaked, waiting for the slightest clue for when the show will start! We then heard the beginning of “Memento Mori”, off their most recent, self-titled album released in 2020. The song started off slow and then, after a full minute, Randy Blythe screams “Wake up!” and the curtain dropped! During “Walk With Me in Hell”, there was, of course, some amazing fire pyro. In the middle of the song, Randy Blythe climbed up on the drum kit with Art Cruz and took a giant leap with full fire behind him! Lamb of God just released a cover/collaboration of Megadeth’s “Wake Up Dead”, featuring Dave Mustaine; we were hoping maybe we’d get to hear it live with Mustaine that night… but no. They closed out their set with “Laid to Rest” and “Redneck”. 

Sirius XM’s Octane and Liquid Metal did an insane give away for the ultimate VIP experience. The winner received a roundtrip for two with hotel stay and VIP passes to the show, along with a Dave Mustaine signature Gibson guitar, signed by all four bands, a ride in the Vin Dime limo and the chance to host their very own Liquid Metal Takeover show! In between the  Lamb of God and Megadath sets, Jose Mangin brought up contest winner — Jeff Wheeler and his buddy, Troy Dixon –to congratulate them on their win. What an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those guys!

Jose “Metal Ambassador” Mangin with Top Shelf Music

This would have technically been the second time I’ve seen Megadeth, but at Blue Ridge Rock Fest, I somehow ended up under the stage. I don’t count that, so this was my first (real) Megadeth show! Megadeth has a huge discography and we all wanted to hear our favorite songs. The set was just nine songs, though, with an encore. They kicked off their set by playing “Hangar 18”. “Sweating Bullets” is always awesome to hear live, because the entire crowd is saying every line in their best Dave Mustaine voice. Between songs, Dave Mustaine was saying how great it was to see everyone’s faces again, now that we don’t have to wear masks. “Beautiful people out there!” He said. Megadeth has hit a few obstacles in the last few years, with Mustaine’s throat cancer and the David Ellefson scandal, but they still bring it onstage! They ended the night with everyone’s favorite, “Peace Sells”. 

This leg of Metal Tour of the Year is only halfway done, so be sure to go see them if they stop in your town! If you happened to miss this tour, you can still catch Megadeth later this year, co-headlining with Five Finger Death Punch!

Photography by Heather Vandemark; recap by Kaiya Vandemark

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