In the days and weeks to come, we are all going to read a whole lot of stuff about Lamb of God and their new self-titled album. Some will love it. Some will hate it. Some will complain about the new drum sound, and some people will be blown away by it. We’re going to read track by track analysis and song structure diagram critiques. We’re going to read that Randy’s voice sounds like this, or Marks guitar sounds like that, or what the hell was the producer thinking? Given the fact that the album is fantastic, in my opinion, I’m sure you’ll read a great deal of positive reviews, and that will please this writer a great deal. That being said, I really don’t think you need me to bore you with all of that kind of bullshit, so let me tell you a story.
Back in 2009, before streaming became the popular way to consume music in the United States, many folks still heavily relied on local record shops to provide a steady fix, particularly for those of us who collected fiendishly. At the time I was not listening to a great deal of heavy music, as circumstances in my life were leaning my ears more towards the depressive, dark folky side of the spectrum. But there was this one day (oh, if we had a dime for every one of those fuckers), I was in an exceptionally destructive frame of mind. I needed some music that fit my… temperament. So, I headed over to my favourite spot in Toledo (Culture Clash Records, for those inclined to care), and walked right up to the new release wall, as one did before algorithm’s started doing this for us.
What I needed to hear was something that made me feel the way I felt the first time I heard “Master of Puppets”. I needed a bit of saving, and I knew that was the ticket. It didn’t take long before my eyes found the rusty coloured, twisted bones of a bird, laid out in sacrificial fashion, and underlined by a single lower-case word: wrath. That was it! I purchased that CD without hesitation, and immediately put it in my car stereo. I did not have an ounce of preconception regarding the music I was about to hear.
The opening riff and subsequent vocal of a song I would only later come to know as “In Your Words” by Lamb of God, sent me on a journey that I am on to this day. That album saved my fucking life, and I can tell you positively changed the entire direction of my mindset regarding depression, loneliness, hopelessness and rage. I absolutely love that record, and since having heard it for the first time, Lamb of God has continued to show up in my life whenever I’ve needed a little push, or extra kick in the ass. Whether it be an album release, really cool interview, podcast appearance, or live performance, that band always seems to come out with something right when I need it most.
So, let’s just say I’m invested. I’ve got some skin in the game. Now, admittedly I was a little nervous about the release of this new record. It has been some time, after all, and there’s a new drummer, and everybody’s another year older, and the political climate is such as it is, and truth be told their last couple albums did not blow my mind. More than that, I really wasn’t all that excited to hear more people talk a bunch more shit about Lamb of God. But I am very happy to report that this Lamb of God record makes me feel the same way I did when I first picked up “Wrath” (and by extension, “Master of Puppets”). “Lamb of God” is an absolute beast of a Metal record, and any person or collective persons remotely predisposed can feel free to argue amongst themselves. Because as far as I’m concerned, “Lamb of God” is a prime example of why Metal heads come to love Metal to begin with.
The world has had some time to adjust to “Memento Mori”, “Checkmate”, and “New Colossal Hate”, which were released as singles sporadically throughout the earlier parts of 2020. All three of these songs are excellent, and what many considered a return to form for the band, despite the exit of Chris Adler and addition of Art Cruz behind the drum kit. As exciting as that was, being such a huge fan, three impressive singles do not necessarily guarantee said excellence will extend throughout the entire length of an album.
“Gears” and “Reality Bath” being the first fresh songs of the new batch, are sandwiched quite nicely in between the aforementioned singles. This brings an incredibly exciting cohesiveness to the older material. Chalk full of signature Mark Morton/Willie Adller guitar riffage, and vocal mayhem, courtesy of an ever-evolving Randy Blythe. Five songs in, there isn’t a second of disappointment or let down in aggression.
“Resurrection Man”, is an absolutely crushing slow burn of Thrash. The low end is well represented (as usual) by John Campbell, but by this point in the album Campbell’s rhythmic collaboration with Cruz exceeds every expectation.
“Poison Dream” and “Routes” are stand out tracks, at least from my point of view, boasting excellent guest vocal spots by Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta and Testament’s Chuck Billy, respectively. While “Blood Shot Eyes” showcases some surprisingly pleasing clean singing from Blythe, and just in case that bums you out, the monstrous album closer “On The Hook” will kick your tiny twig and berries right up through the middle of your chest!
That’s right, you whiney ding dongs! Lamb of God is not playing any fucking games with this one! They are back with a vengeance, which is odd to say as they never really left in the first place. “Lamb of God”, however, the band’s best work in over a decade. I will unapologetically give this album a perfect score, and add it to the ever-growing “best of” for 2020.
Rating – 5/5