Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I recently bought Lamb of God's most recent release entitled "Wrath" and I must say that it reigns. I think it is pretty cool that these guys are like mainstream metal (Videos on MTV2 and Billboard 200 are considered mainstream to metal) yet they still are an extremely heavy band. No pop choruses, no songs about girls, no ballads, just a fresh dose of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. I don't even really like that phrase but that seems to be how this band always gets described. I think it has more to do with the fact that they are from Virginia and have redneck beards, but rest assured these guys aren't just a redneck band from Virginia. They are a well oiled machine both on stage and off.
Wrath is definitely the most mature album Lamb of God have done. Their last album Sacrament made a huge leap musically from prior efforts, yet it sounded very produced. Still a great album, but it sounded like a Pro Tools' proudest projects release. Wrath did an excellent job of getting back to a more raw sound and production while still showcasing the band progressing as song writers. These are some heavy but well written tunes, and all the songs highlight the fact that these guys can really play. I think their enhanced playing is showcased in the majority of the songs and they have pulled out some tricks that haven't been done before on prior releases. Randy Blythe the drunken screamer of a singer tried his hands at some cleaner (still far from clean) vocals on Sacrament but like I said before they had a very produced vibe. He continues the trend on this album but it just sounds so much better without an excess of reverb and echo. He is really hitting tones and is nailing down pitching his screams which has increased his range from either high or low to encapsulate everything in between. He sounds like a new age Chuck Billy from Testament at times and the rest of the time stays true to the Randy guttural growls and high pitched screams. Guitar work is flawless on the album. Very heavy riffs with very few actual breakdowns. I really like that they can make riffs sound heavy as hell without chugging through 25 open C chords (tuned down two steps of course!). Where there are breakdowns, they are not forced and they generally are layered upon after a few measures to deny monotony. The rhythm section of the band spearheaded by Chris Adler is as tight and creative as ever which must be a blessing for guitarist Mark Morten and Willie Adler who can have even the most generic riffs transformed to sound intricate and creative. All in all a strong album from start to finish.
What I really respect about Lamb of God is the way they go about their craft. They are true professionals that run, in essence, a very innovative start up business. They started in college dorm rooms in Virginia and worked to where they are today. These guys don't complain about the nature of the music business today. They think creatively and provide the fans with the extras that keep them buying albums. I bought their CD and it came with a bonus CD that is all studio mp3's of individual tracks from the album. I can jam alongside each dude in the band or just hear clearly how each guy plays their part on the tracks. Very simple, very cheap, very effective. These guys give away lessons with the band, backstage passes, whatever you can think of. They have a few gold DVDs that basically let the fans enter into the world of Lamb of God to see the good, bad, and ugly. They do whatever they can to brand themselves as a fan's band and in return they actually sell records, as a brutal metal band no less. They are passionate about what they do and the intend to take their b(r)and down the long touring road for as long as the fans will let them. I have embedded some new shreddage for your personal listening pleasure. Take care of that neck!