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Lamb of God - Lamb of God (Album Review)

Monday, 22 June 2020 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Photo: Travis Shinn

Some people love meat and potatoes. Boiled, baked, mashed, sautéed if they’re feeling adventurous–but nothing too exotic. Beef gravy, thank you. Lamb of God’s self-titled eighth album is meat and potatoes. And that’s fine–the Richmond five-piece made their name worshipping at the hulking groove metal altar of Pantera. To call anything they’ve done experimental would be a stretch.

Sure, vocalist Randy Blythe has started implementing barely-sung clean melodies, and they used orchestration on a song eight years ago. But Frank Zappa, this is not. And again, that’s fine. They’re one of the 21st century’s most successful, red-blooded heavy bands for a reason: their songs are wicked.

Every chorus on ‘Lamb of God’ comes courtesy of Blythe’s idiosyncratic, drawled scream–it’s easy to imagine how massive some of these songs will sound from the pit when gigs eventually get going again.

Take Memento Mori’s “Wake up! Wake up! Wake uuuup!”, or Checkmate’s on-the-nose rallying cry, “The American Scream!”, or Bloodshot Eyes’ snotty, gurgled, “Bloodshot eyes and wasted time, you’re everything I left behind.” 

The meatiness, the potatoiness, though. It can get a little filling at times. Poison Dream is fun, with Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta popping up to shout in the one cadence he seems to know. But compared to some of the record’s singles, like the bowel-smashing New Colossal Hate, it’s a tad throwaway. It’s better than 99% of bands trying their hand at this thing, but in the company of top-tier Lamb of God, it suffers. 

Still, ‘Lamb of God’ is invigorating. It’s got proper pace to it. Mark Morton and Willie Adler’s mixture of choppy chugging and bluesy, loose riffing is fresh as always, laying the foundations for new drummer Art Cruz, who does a sterling job. 

Stepping into Chris Adler’s shoes is a thankless task, and the percussive performance on ‘Lamb of God’ is reminiscent of Jay Weinberg replacing Joey Jordison for Slipknot’s ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’. Will you notice Adler’s absence, as a fan? Perhaps. Will anyone else? No. Cruz is a beast and keeps us on our toes where he can. One tiny death metal blast during On The Hook is painfully brief, but it ticks that same box Adler frequently did: invention. 

Lamb of God fans will lap this up. Devotees of The Riff™ will devour it. This eponymous lump of metal kicks around similar levels of quality to the band’s prior records, ‘VII: Sturm und Drang’ and ‘Resolution’. It’s relatively concise, all the songs achieve a high hit rate, and the few moments you could describe as ‘weak’ only seem so due to the ludicrously high bar that’s been set over the past two decades. If every song on ‘Lamb of God’ was as savagely suffocating as the one-two finale of Bloodshot Eyes and On The Hook, we’d have an album of the year contender on our hands.



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