Courtesy: Epic Records
Lamb of God is one of the leading names in the metal and hard rock communities today. The band did not earn that title overnight, either. It took more than 25 years, nine albums and lots of touring around the world. With the forthcoming release of its 10th overall album – and eighth under the Lamb of God moniker (the band was previously known as Burn the Priest, and has released two records under that name) – the band cements its reputation even more so. The 10-song record is some of the band’s best work to date. That is proven in part through the record’s musical content, which will be discussed shortly. The album’s lyrical content does its own part to show what makes this record so strong. It will be discussed a little later. The record’s production and mixing put the final touch to its presentation. Together with the noted content, all three elements make the album’s overall presentation such that it easily makes a place for itself among this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.
Lamb of God’s forthcoming self-titled album is one of the most anticipated hard rock and metal albums of this year. The album lives up to expectations, too, as is evidenced in part through the record’s musical arrangements. From beginning to end, this album’s musical content throws back to the sounds of the band’s 2003 breakout album As The Palaces Burn. There is even some growth exhibited in the album in ‘Bloodshot Eyes.’ That song actually presents more of a melodic metal sound than the full-throttle, chainsaw-sharp sounds for which the band has come to be known throughout its albums. Front man Randy Blythe even goes so far as to provide some actual clean vocals in the song alongside his trademark screams. Meanwhile, the team of guitarists Willie Adler, Mark Morton and bassist John Campbell create the noted melodic hard rock sound that is a welcome change of pace here. New drummer Art Cruz (Prong, Winds of Plague) adds his own distinct touch to the song, showing that he can play slow and controlled just as easily as he can while keeping time in the album’s more up-tempo works. The whole makes this song one of the album’s most engaging songs, but definitely not its only notable addition to Lamb of God. Campbell’s subtle bass intro in ‘Reality Bath’ does well to help set the searing tone that is revealed in the rest of the song. It does that because of how contradictory it is to the sound in the rest of the song’s arrangement. It serves as a sort of precursor or calm before the storm that is unleashed throughout the rest of the song. That storm is intense, too. Blythe’s vocal delivery gives audiences something rare as it feels and sounds so more focused than ever. Speaking of focus, the band’s ability to switch so seamlessly between its trademark thrash/groove sound to the more hardcore sound of Hatebreed when that band’s front man Jamey Jasta joins in on ‘Poison Dream’ serves as another example of how focused the band is on this album. What has led the band to gel so well throughout this record is anyone’s guess. Maybe it is the fact that Morton has recently been allowed to spread his own creative wings through his own solo recordings – Anasthetic and Ether. Maybe that allowed him to come into the recording sessions with a clearer and more open mind. Maybe it is that front man randy Blythe recently got sober, as is discussed in an interview that he recently conducted with Revolver magazine. Audiences can read that whole interview here. Maybe it is something else or even a combination of those elements and something else. Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that the musical content featured throughout Lamb of God’s 45-minute run time builds a solid foundation for the record’s presentation. It is just one of the elements that makes this record so appealing. The record’s lyrical themes play into the album’s appeal, too.
The lyrical themes featured throughout Lamb of God largely address issues going on with society the world over. Blythe addressed this, too in his noted interview with Revolver magazine. He was cited late in the interview as saying that getting sober played directly into his approach to songwriting this time out. Audiences will be left to read his comments for themselves, but the short and simple of his statement is that in getting sober, he had a clearer mind and realized the importance in the impact of the band’s music, so he took a more active approach to writing each song. The result of his focus is clear from beginning to end. ‘Gears’ is just one example of the positive payoff of Blythe’s sobriety. He writes in this song’s lead verse and chorus, “You suffer from a manufactured sickness and envy by design/Pre-calculated status and patterns of desire/ Accumulation and adoration/Built to feed your ostentation/Perpetually unsatisfied, but you never question why/So hang it on the wall of your golden cage/Tell yourself that it means something/Empty actions to fill the time/Commercial gods keep you in line/Industry and empire thrive/While you’re dying for always more.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Your endless hunger automated/Industry defined/A systematic impulse, parametric lines/Subjugation and degradation the blueprint to your annihilation/You’re assets personified, a product of the times,” before eventually adding in the song’s third and final verse, “So you can’t take it with you but you don’t use it now/A shallow life to crush you, drive you into the ground/So scared to lose the nothings you acquire/Everything must fall, bones on a pyre.” This takes on the issues of consumerism and social media, and how people allow themselves to be turned into essentially puppets for corporations while also fulfilling their own greedy natures. Sure, it’s hardly the first time that any act has taken on such matters, but Lamb of God has given the topic a new twist in this case that is certain to resonate and stick with audiences.
‘New Colossal Hate’ is another example of the importance of this record’s lyrical themes. The song addresses the mistreatment of people from ethnic minorities. This matter has become a hot-button topic ever since Donald Trump rose to power. His divisive comments about ethnic minority populations have fueled so much division and even criminal activity by white nationalist groups. Now Blythe has taken on the matter, writing in the song’s lead verse, “The mother of exiles stands there weeping/As her children tear themselves apart/Knives are out, her thoughts are bleeding Blood runs down her welcoming arms/Her feral brood has turned neglectful/The chains she broke are rusting closed/Imprisoned lightning burns forgetful/Spoiled blind to the light that she holds/Lash the tired and kill the poor/The huddled masses ram the door.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Like brazen giants with conquering limbs/The herd manifesting all that she despised/Childish amnesia born of privilege/Selfish mob commits matricide/Her mild gaze gone stern, fire in her eyes/Watching her dreams turn into dust The beacon dropped, her hand raised up to strike/Cast them homeless into the tempest/Lash the tired and kill the poor/The coddled masses slam the golden door.” The song’s third verse is the most telling in the noted statement as Blythe writes, closing out the song, “The melting pot is melting down/A pool of slag on poisoned ground/Choking from the venom’s sting/Pull the fangs, let freedom ring.” That ironic statement at the end, “Let freedom ring” is a powerful final comment. It heightens the sense of anger expressed throughout the rest of the song as it addresses the vile, hateful behavior of so many who want to keep ethnic minorities from coming to America. It is yet another way in which the record’s lyrical themes prove the importance of the record’s lyrical content. ‘On The Hook,’ the record’s finale, is yet another way in which the album’s lyrical themes prove so important to the album’s presentation.
‘On the Hook’ is a direct statement about America’s opioid epidemic. It is a damning indictment of the legal drug industry, pointing out its role in people becoming addicted to drugs. Blythe also addresses this in his interview with Revolver magazine, noting the song’s inspiration was something personal. The revelation that he makes here is an eye-opener to say the very least. He opens the song by writing, “A dead silver spoon with needles in his skin/Rode a pale horse down from Afghanistan/Tears in the suburbs/Mothers praying for their damned/Death has crept into their zone of the promised land/But just before each plague, the clearest prophecies/Pandora’s box in backwoods pharmacies/A contract to die.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Narcotic economics for the miner’s sons/The seams went bust so long ago/With nowhere else to turn/Strip mine the veins, drill the abscess dry/Incentives for the architects of their genocide/We’ve seen this all before in a different shade/The Dark Alliance shifts to the modern age/A contract to die.” The song’s most damning statement comes again here in its third verse, in which Blythe writes, Hippocratic hypocrites/Breaking oaths and cashing checks/Wrote an oceans worth of ink/Scripting a nation’s disease/A systematic business plan/To broker death increase demand/So flood the ghetto and starve the hills/Kill them all with crack and pills/Kill them all/Vietnam/Iran Contra/Park Avenue/Oxycontin.” This is a powerful overall statement that audiences will not soon forget. Along with Psycle’s song ‘Last Chance for the Saints,’ Lamb of God’s work becomes hopefully just the latest in what is hopefully a growing trend of acts addressing the negative impact of the legalized drug industry. Regardless, it can be said that it is one more hard-hitting example of what makes this record’s lyrical themes so important. Taking it into consideration along with the other lyrical themes noted here and those in the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the album’s lyrical content proves itself just as important as the LP’s musical content. While the record’s musical and lyrical content collectively and completely ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment, they are only a portion of what makes the record a strong new offering from Lamb of God. The album’s mixing and production put the final touch to its presentation.
The production and mixing that went into Lamb of God’s presentation is noteworthy in that so much is going on in each song. Between Blythe’s screams, Cruz’s powerhouse drumming, Morton and Adler’s double attack and Campbell’s low-end, each band member has something to bring in each song. Whether in the more radio-ready aggro-rock styling of ‘Bloodshot Eyes,’ the intense ‘Reality Bath,’ which does an admirable job of expressing America’s frustration over all of the recent mass shootings at schools nationwide, the equally intense ‘Poison Dream’ or the arrangements in any of the album’s other songs, the fact remains that each song is expertly produced and mixed. The fire burns bright in each arrangement, while also allowing each part to show why each said work has such powerful impact. Producer Josh Wilbur and others involved in this process are to be commended in their own right for this result. Keeping in mind the positive result of the record’s production and mixing, that element is what makes the record’s arrangements hit as hard as they do. It is what leads the lyrics and music to come together and translate as well as they do. To that end, it puts the finishing touch to this record and makes it a must hear for Lamb of God’s fans and metal/hard rock fans alike. It all comes together to make Lamb of God one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.
Lamb of God’s forthcoming self-titled album is an impressive new offering from the band. It is a work whose musical arrangements take audiences back in time and whose lyrical themes do their own part to keep audiences engaged and entertained. The record’s production and mixing put the final touch to its presentation by balancing everything out and in turn making the album that much more appealing. Each noted item is important in its own way. All things considered, they make Lamb of God, without argument, one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums. It is scheduled for release Friday through Epic Records. Pre-orders are open now for Lamb of God.
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