By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
This year has one of the most turbulent years the world has seen in a very long time. Between COVID-19, the protests/riots, concerts being postponed or cancelled, and an election year, we have been on a rollercoaster of emotions. That is why the need for heavy metal is even greater for me because it keeps me and other metalheads sane. We let out that aggression through the extreme prowess of the chords and cymbals struck viciously. Lamb of God is a band that knows get the metalheads pissed off positively. As one of the leaders of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement in the 90s, Lamb of God have been kings on the metal circuit for 25 years. It has been 5 years since they released critical darling, VII: Sturm und Drang. Now they have returned to ease the tensions metalheads have been feeling lately with their 10th studio album, Lamb of God. Seen has a reboot for the group, this record is the first to feature new drummer Art Cruz (Winds of Plague), who took Chris Adler’s place in 2019. Lamb of God hopes to gain a new legion of soldiers, so let us listen to this new gospel.
We start the LP with “Memento Mori,” a tune that is as black as the night. The haunting voice of Randy Blythe in the beginning is chilling, and then he screams with aggression. The adrenaline kicks in thanks to the unforgiving riff attacks by the guitar duo of Willie Adler and Mark Morton. Malicious and terrorizing, this song cries “Wake Up!” “Checkmate” is the first single off Lamb of God, a politically charged tune that takes aim at hatred and systematic abuse. Cruz adds in the progressive style of drumming to the Lamb of God thrash sound, and it mixes in there very well. The sound is more modern than anything they have done before, but the savagery remains. “Gears” is the directed to the corporations and the lines they feed us to buy stuff, keeping us blindly hungry for more. Bassist John Campbell blasts the beat to harmonious pleasure, while Cruz thrashes his drum kit to pieces. This song, in my opinion, should have been the first single. Next up is “Reality Bath.” Campbell fluidly flows on his bass just as Blythe comes in all pissed off. This thrash number provides a powerful statement, riddle with chugging guitar licks that give it a stronger impact as it tackles the issue of how we perceive reality and glorifying the massacre it brings. “New Colossal Hate” rampages through the ear canals as Lamb of God gives us their old-school sound we love to hear. Like a lion hungry for meat, Blythe tears in the flesh of apathy and revulsion, bitch slapping it in the face. Willie and Morton storm through the tune with destructive hooks, while Cruz stabs away with his killer beats. Halfway through, and I am fuming for more.
“Resurrection Man” is another old-school song with the group displaying the battle scars they collected over the years. A melodic, slow-burning charmer with horror imagery, this tune is lyrically evocative and gorgeous at the same time. Cruz whammies that double bass kick as if it is nobody’s business. This is a standalone track for me. In “Poison Dream,” Lamb of God proclaimed that the “Man” sold us a bill of goods called “the American Dream.” Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed comes in with a rap punkish metal flow. The riffs are sizzling as the rhythmic beat aims for the throat. With “Routes,” there is a nostalgic feel for 80s thrash metal that is grand, epic, and effervescent. Testament’s Chuck Billy tries to outshine Blythe with his voice, but Blythe’s roars do not go quietly that easy. Morton rips out a huge solo that would rival Testament’s Alex Scholnick. “Bloodshot Eyes” features a good mixture of Blythe’s brutal roars and melodious singing. Reminds me of the style he approached on “Overload,” letting his vulnerability merge with his rage. We now reach the end of this gospel with “On the Hook.” Full of grooves and wretched squealing, Lamb of God looks to finish Lamb of God with a rage fest. The song features Cruz at his best, mixing in every metal genre he has been a part of and progressively giving it more ferocity. Willie riffs a masterful rhythm with Morton. Blythe finishes it off with “kill them all!”
Lamb of God is proof that after 25 years together, Lamb of God is still full of wrath. They try to reshape the mold they helped create without completely abandoning what they know. Produced once again by Josh Wilbur, destruction fills the airwaves. Cruz had some big shoes to fill, but like Jay Weinberg (Slipknot) and Brooks Wackerman (Avenged Sevenfold), the shoes still rampaged impeccably. The palace is still burning, and given what is going on right now, I do not believe the fire will die any time soon. To Lamb of God, I salute you. Horns up!!!
1. Memento Mori
4. Reality Bath
5. New Colossal Hate
6. Resurrection Man
7. Poison Dream (feat. Jamey Jasta)
8. Routes (feat. Chuck Billy)
9. Bloodshot Eyes
10. On The Hook
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