Lamb Of God


Written by: AP on 09/03/2009 01:34:27

With almost twenty years of history and six studio albums in their catalog, Lamb Of God remain one of the most iconic metal bands of today. Over the years the band has crafted a unique, consistent and instantly recognizable sound - a Southern-spiced matrimony between Pantera's "Vulgar Display Of Power" and "Kill 'Em All"-era Metallica - which has earned them a following few contemporary metal bands can match. Leaving experimentation and innovation to the Mastodons and Dillinger Escape Plans of the world, it's ironically the band's straightforward, no-nonsense (some might even say formulaic) take on the genre that sets them apart. It is, as "Wrath" once again proves, a winning formula.

At the same time, however, it remains the band's own worst enemy. Six studio albums later the prospect of a classic release from this bunch seems further than ever and doubtful at best. Then again, it's no secret that Lamb Of God prefer to keep things within the confines of a familiar, and as it looks, reliable template. As usual, the extraordinary talent of guitar tandem Mark Morton and Willie Adler comes across through graceful subtleties rather than all-out shredmania despite the fact that most of the duo's riff stock sounds far less complicated than it really is. All this, of course, only reinforces the working man's metal image. "Wrath", like most of Lamb Of God's material, is intended for the masses - not an impenetrable clique of elitist fans. Like its predecessors it draws as much from the band's origins as it does from the more recent produce in "Sacrament" and as such is more than likely to once again please the legions of fans with something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

As with every album this band has been spitting out, however, "Wrath", too, has its shortcomings. Some say it signals an improved vocal range, but for the undersigned the occasional high pitched sneer that Randy Blythe now spits out damages his charismatic bad boy attitude and, together with a breakdown or two, shifts the band dangerously close to the loathed metalcore tag. Even more frustrating is the number of times that "Wrath" actually flirts with the idea of transcending their normal blue collar sound only to regret and return to same-old, same-old after only a couple of bars. This is most evident in what would be a magnificent intro track, "The Passing", which first reaches for elegiac heights, then abruptly ends to make room for the very typical "In Your Words" (not that it isn't an excellent track) and feels unresolved. "Grace", in the middle of the album, begins with an intriguing, bluesy solo, which goes nowhere. And "Reclamation" tries very hard to continue from where "Vigil" left off, with a prog-epic only to descend to yet more standard Lamb Of God riffery.

For every bit of inspiration "Wrath" offers twice the amount of rehashed recipe, which is what concert-goers want for their circle pits. But were the more flirtatious parts given room for growth, Lamb Of God might just turn from a very good metal band to a very nearly perfect one instead. Such hypotheses aside, if uncompromising, attitude-fueled heavy metal is what swings your boat, then "Wrath" is about as good as it gets; those looking for something avantgarde and on the fringe, look some place else. This is real American motherfucker metal.


Download: In Your Words, Contractor, Broken Hands

For the fans of: A Life Once Lost, The Haunted, Pantera

Listen: Myspace

Release date 24.02.2009


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