Old-school thrash meets new-school post-hardcore meets metalcore on this fairly impressive road outing. MTV2 has done a hell of a job of reanimating the Headbangers Ball. Sure, they play some dross (Powerman 5000, Static-X), but they blast plenty of serious stuff, too (Hate Eternal, Slayer). It's the show the modern metalhead needs, and the three headliners on this tour are shockingly hard-edged for an MTV-affiliated enterprise. Shadows Fall is one of the most retro-conscious acts around; they play as if death metal never happened. Half of The Art of Balance sounds copped from Anthrax's Among the Living. Lamb of God, on the other hand, is the future of metal, and it's bleak and ugly. As the Palaces Burn is fast, complex, heavy, and painfully hard at once -- impressive, but sometimes so merciless it's hard to withstand. Killswitch Engage is probably the most easy-on-the-ear of the three bands, but that's hardly calling them pop. Their metalcore sound has hints of melody and some non-barking vocals, but still offers plenty of punishment. This tour proves once again that metal's underground is coughing up most of the interesting music in America right now.