“Putting only our name on it is a statement – This is LAMB OF GOD. Here and now.” – D. Randall Blythe.
Understatement of the year. Blythe does however perfectly sum up five years of studio silence from the outfit from Richmond, Virginia. What preceded studio album number eight, is in the past, ‘Lamb Of God’ is very much here and now. The perfect soundtrack to the current-day apocalypse that we are all living, and arguably one of the quintets top three albums to date.
‘Memento Mori’ is a perfect introduction to Lamb Of God 2020; a dark, foreboding spoken word intro from Blythe that explodes to live with him screaming – ‘Wake Up!’ as the pounding bass drum from Art Cruz (making his LoG studio debut) brings the band in. The literal translation of Memento Mori is “remember you must die”, and the imagery is something, historically a skull, that serves as a reminder of death and mortality. Although on the outside this seems a dark subject, the overall message is one of positivity and of not wasting the day, as ultimately we all return to dust. What is quite eerie is that the song (and stunning video) were obviously planned way ahead of the world turning to shit, and both are even more timely now.
‘Checkmate’ begins with Cruz counting the band in and some killer trippy guitar doodles from Mark Morton and Willie Adler, the riffs throughout are mountainous, and Blythe sounds as energised as he has ever been. Cruz has linked up well with his partner in the engine room; bassist John Campbell, and the pair pound the listener into an early submission, especially on the throbbing ‘Gears’ and Geezer Butler-like intro of the hypnotic ‘Reality Bath’….”Another massacre, another day gone by, is this the new abnormal?”. It would seem so, yes.
The midsection of the album is relentless; the pummelling ‘New Colossal Hate’ first, followed by the creepy ‘Resurrection Man’ which comes complete with a subtle John Carpenter-esque guitar vibe in the background, then the appearance of a pair of special guests. First up is ‘Poison Dream’ (featuring Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta) which is thrust along by the guitar hooks and Jasta’s machine-gun vocal delivery; ‘Routes’ (featuring Chuck Billy) is insane. No other word for it. Insane. The riffage is incredible, the drum work – explosive. Although Chuck Billy is low down in the mix, it’s amazing to hear him deliver quite an understated vocal performance. With the drums, and low chanting from the Testament mainman, ‘Routes’ has quite a tribal vibe in places.
Ending on killer one-two of the 100% groove-metal of ‘Bloodshot Eyes’ and the hardcore crunch of ‘On The Hook’, ‘Lamb Of God’ is the sound of a band still important, still relevant, and a band quite rightly still sitting at the top table of Metal.
Available now through Nuclear Blast.
Review – Dave