Lamb of God
Rating 6 of 10
Bonus Tracks Go to 11
It is official, with the release of Wrath, Virginia metal heavyweights Lamb of God have sold out to the almighty metal fan. Like many of their predecessors such as Exodus and Slayer, LOG has decided that taking chances and growing as an artist is far too big a risk. Instead, they’ve written a straight forward boring thrash album which shows absolutely no interest in expanding their songwriting craft, shows they’ve lost their balls, and will now churn out the same album every 2 to 3 years. The sad thing is Wrath isn’t a bad album. It is just that with each new release LOG has shown tremendous growth and wow factor and I don’t think this album is up to their standards. They simply seem to be going through the motions.
A brilliant instrumental, and one of the few non-recycled pieces of music, The Passing, opens the album. Harmonized guitars over a mid-tempo beat are featured here and distinctly remind one of old-school Queensryche. Unfortunately, The Passing is just that and only clocks in at two minutes and then fades into a steady decline in songwriting until the middle of the CD. Songs such as Contractor and Set to Fail seem to be written purely to prove how metal we are. Set to Fail even goes so far as to have blast beats. Oooohhh, haven’t heard that in a metal song before. There is nothing particularly wrong with these tracks. They are good songs but nothing new reaches out to grab you either. I blame this lack of adventure squarely on the shoulders of the Adler Brothers. They can’t seem to get out of the mindset of having to be metal 24/7.
This was blatantly evident in the making of Sacrament DVD when Mark Morton brought Descending to the rehearsal room and they both scoffed at it because it just wasn’t metal enough and the vocals would have to carry the song. Oh no, we’re not metal if we do that. Kerry King and all the Blabbermouth readers might disapprove. It was then hilarious to see that Descending was one of the outstanding if not the best tracks on Sacrament, an album that Chris Adler has tried hard to distance himself from in recent interviews. Apparently this is because it is not metal enough for him anymore and anything perceived as a sell out attempt by the fans was purely the suggestion of producer Machine and the band had nothing to do with it. I absolutely hate when a metal artist slams things they’ve done in the past to sell a new record and convince people how much heavier their new offering is. You were there, it has your name on it, don’t try to blame songwriting on the producer. At least own up to it and admit that was where your head was at the time and it felt right when composing it. Like anything LOG could ever do would be considered a sell out in the Metallica Black Album train of thought anyway. Does anyone really think that with Randy Blythe’s growling vocals, you’ll ever find them on traditional rock radio?
Finally, on track six, Grace, LOG shows that they can grow as songwriters. Clean guitars open this one up which break into a blistering guitar riff. A harmonizing solo is the highlight in this song and really adds to the overall dynamics of the composition. However, after this track, you guessed it, more straight forward Adler Brother metal for another four songs. These three minutes each compositions bring nothing to the table and show LOG once again playing it safe. Again, decent songs, and one maybe two at most need to be left on the album for variety, but it seems LOG is trying to please the metal masses like Blabbermouth reviewer Ryan Ogle, who summed this album up by stating that “Thankfully, Lamb Of God has yet to reach that point where they feel the need to re-invent the wheel, or even themselves for that matter.” Yeah, great, now they can make a career of playing the same album over and over just like AC/DC has done with the same four chords for almost forty years now.
The album closer, Reclamation, is by far one of LOG’s best tracks to date and features some excellent Randy Blythe lyrics. LOG lyrics usually penned by Blythe and Mark Morton are top notch and I always look forward to what great lines they’ll think of next. The twists and turns taken on this song hearken back to Ashes of the Wake craft and take the listener on a journey. If only the band would have let their metal guard down for two seconds and written more tunes like this one, we would have a better-rounded and actually more metal album. This leads us to the two bonus tracks that come with some exclusive and deluxe versions of the CD. Both of these tracks are superb and why they weren’t put on the proper album version is beyond me. Oh yeah, that’s right, they are unconventional and not straight forward METAL. Well we just can’t have that now can we.
We Die Alone, a song much like Sacrament’s Descending, is carried by the vocals and an unorthodox yet simple drum beat at the beginning. The middle section breathes fresh new life into the LOG catalog of riffage with a dueling, overlaying guitar solo which is something new for the band. Shoulder of Your God is another great composition which will need to be listened to over and over again to hear all the intricacies it contains. The fact that these two songs and the Japanese bonus track Condemn the Hive were left off the regular album are blatant proof that LOG was playing it safe and that is a shame. If they had left these tracks on the album and taken off some of the straight forward thrash metal snoozers like Everything to Nothing and Choke Sermon, you’d have possibly their best album yet. As a big LOG fan I hope that they can get back on track with their next release and will write an album that they want to write and not worry about what the metal fans expect to hear.