The Roaring Return of Lamb of God!
Band: Lamb of God
Album: Lamb of God
Genre: Groove, Thrash, New Wave of American Heavy Metal
Release Date: 06/19/20
Has it really been five years since the last Lamb of God record? It sure doesn’t seem that long but it sure is the truth. Five years of touring and apparently breaking up with their drummer has led them down a long path to this new record, a self-titled statement of where the band is in 2020 and heading into a brand new decade. How does is shape up?
First off, this was a really surprising record for me. I always felt Lamb of God reached their zenith with the Ashes of the Wake album. That’s not a slight on what’s come after; each of those subsequent records are all pretty darned good, but there was a feeling that Lamb of God was grinding the gears, repeating what they’d done before, except without that natural fire that a younger, hungrier band has. No offense, but Sacrament, Wrath, Resolution, and VII: Sturm und Drang were the sounds of a band stuck in place. Yeah, they tried some new things, Randy crooning, some different styles and rhythms, and that’s all fine and good, but it was pretty apparent this was a band that had reached that level that so many before them had before. Like Slayer, or Motorhead, they put out the same stuff over and over again, with different variations. There’s nothing wrong with this; at least they didn’t go the Metallica route and really fuck the pony they rode in on. But like the aforementioned bands, Lamb has come into this new decade with a record that takes all their strengths, bulked those up, and gotten nasty with them. Maybe this is a one-off, but man, this one has all the earlier fire, all the earlier anger and burning, blistering riffs that somehow just connect more and with an efficiency and ease that they haven’t had in quite a while.
Did I mention Slayer? Oh, yeah. Anyone with an ear can hear that Lamb of God is a nice mix of Pantera’s Groove Metal and Slayer’s chaotic Thrash. They’ve always worn those influences on their sleeves, and they certainly don’t shy away from that here. Combine those tendencies with Randy’s very unique and powerful vocals, and you’ve got something. Maybe it was changing drummers, maybe it was touring three years with Slayer, maybe it was the long time off between records, but something happened, and Lamb have put out their best record since Ashes.
Songs like “Memento Mori,” “Checkmate,” and “Gears” just blister right out of the gates. All that righteous, political and social fury that Randy is known for rises to the top, the thrash, the grooves, the wild solos combing to create the perfect storm that is Lamb of God. The riffs are simply titanic at times. The album continues on, strength following strength. You can almost hear the ghost of Dimebag on “New Colossal Hate” and kudos for the added elements of silence and creeping dynamics that give all the songs that extra push they need. The only drawbacks for me, and they’re not really bad, are the two guest vocal tracks. “Poison Dream” featuring Jamey Jasta has a perfect Hatebreed breakdown, and “Routes” featuring Chuck Billy sounds appropriately Testament-thrashy. Both songs are just fine, but they feel a bit out of place. In any case, the album winds down just fine with the final two tracks, which leave us panting and wanting more.
Lamb of God found their groove again. It’s good to have them back. May they continue to tour and put out albums this good for a long, long time to come.
The Wizard Has Spoken!