Over the last 20 years, we’ve all had the pleasure of witnessing that little ol’ metal band from Richmond, Virginia, Lamb of God, rise to the highest ranks of heavy metal. Innovators in their own right, Lamb of God reinvigorated the genre back in 2000, intertwining the energy from a hardcore/punk upbringing with various elements across the heavy metal spectrum, thus placing themselves in a position as pioneers of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. On the band’s first full-length release (as Lamb of God) New American Gospel, the members explored a playing style that was more raw and heavier than anything up until that point, elevating the standards for all metal music that followed. From that point on, the band has progressed with a diligent spirit and the hard-hitting impact from their personal playing style has sustained itself over the course of their discography, well into their latest self-titled endeavor.
Lamb of God is the title given to the brand new full length due out this Friday and is a statement that fully represents the band here and now. The straight to the point title however, doesn’t necessarily match the deep-rooted and impassioned contents within. As Lamb of God continues to navigate through their musical calling, older and more wise, their disdain for the current state of affairs remains as the driving force behind their aggression. With the year 2020 bringing about new challenges, struggles, and a desperate need for change in many respects, the band makes it a point to examine personal conflicts and work their way outward. Lamb of God’s self-titled effort overflows with transfixing riffs, mountainous grooves and is audibly designed to dismantle, disrupt, and demolish all oppressing forces.
The band’s self-titled statement is immediately enforced within the first thirty seconds of opening track “Memento Mori,” through the gravelly, clean singing voice of the indestructible Randy Blyth. A specific facet of his vocal abilities that was met with shock and awe on VII: Sturm Und Drang (2015) track “Overlord” and revisited on (2016) track “The Duke,” comes back this time around as a tool to ignite heavy and dark emotions early on in the album. The sound of clean, echoing guitars and a whispering voice, lure you into a blast of full-bodied heaviness.
Massive groove and an ever-flowing stream of classic LoG riffs find a home within every track that follows, which these veterans know how to compile into uncompromising song structures. “Checkmate” and “Gears” employ these explosive tactics to call out the absurdities of a flawed system and dissect peoples brainwashed addiction to materialism. Harnessing the power of the riff, Mark Morton and Willie Adler continuously find ways to revitalize their signature style of string work, coming across more dynamic than ever on this album.
The lethal combination of lyrical potency and instrumental power come together throughout this record to bring a whole new level of assertion to Lamb of God’s credo. “Reality Bath” upholds that thought, pairing a blues-infused atmosphere, with lines like “The strongest hearts will raise their voice against the murderous tide.” Now, repeat that line to yourself and consider the current state of humanity. The relevance and meaning behind these words couldn’t have been screamed at a more fitting time.
Musically, “New Colossal Hate” possesses an Ashes Of The Wake-style energy completely re-imagined for the new decade, while “Resurrection Man” pays homage to the grittier qualities of As The Palaces Burn. I feel this is a more than perfect time to highlight the drumming skills of new drummer Art Cruz, who masterfully fills the rather large shoes left in place by the amazing Chris Adler. Cruz is a natural fit, delivering a vicious drum attack with those familiar splash-cymbal garnishes, mechanical double bass patterns, and superb drum fills.
Revisiting the term colossal, metal icons Jamey Jasta and Chuck Billy grace the album with their presence in two major ways. Jasta kicks down the door in the breakdown-driven “Poison Dream,” while Billy lends a majestic vocal melody to the aggrieved, all out thrasher “Routes.” Two songs that show different sides to this band’s heavy metal mastery.
And with that, Lamb of God uphold their place among the metal elite. The signature sound that this band pioneered and mastered captures your attention on this album from the introduction, all the way to the blast beats and bone-shattering breakdown that concludes “On The Hook.” This album is nothing short of stellar, from the sharp musicianship and the gripping vocal performance, to the bulletproof songwriting. This is Lamb of God, here and now.