Album Review: Lamb of God /Wrath/


9 mars 2009, 3h51m

To get the reboot going, I wanted to start with a review of the first landmark release of 2009 for me: Lamb of God's Wrath, which was released February 24th!

If you've watched Walk With Me in Hell, and especially if you've seen Killadelphia for contrast, it's amazing what a different person Randy Blythe is when he's sober. Randy's a very intelligent, well-read person who must be fascinating to talk to now that he’s able to have lucid conversations. Wrath is the first album that he has done completely sober, and does that ever show through in his vocals and the music. I think it's possibly the single biggest reason why they sound so good. The band must have actually enjoyed working together to do this album, and I think that shows through, too. They're scorchingly heavy here, but clear and really tight.

Sacrament was written off by a lot of fans and some critics for being too polished. Too much studio production. I actually love it. I don't think it's their best album in terms of consistency from top-to-bottom, but some of my all-time favorite LoG songs are on it, including some of those that have some of that ol' studio magic, like Descending and Blacken The Cursed Sun.

In terms of top-to-bottom consistency, I think Ashes Of The Wake is probably the best. And I think Wrath is an album that is very much in the same vein as AotW. Lyrically, vocally, musically, performance-wise. If Sacrament was an abberration (note that I DON'T think it was an errant abberation - just atypical), then Wrath can be considered the true follow-up to AotW.

I can't say that I like Wrath better than Ashes of the Wake. For one thing, I think it's too soon to be able to state that kind of judgment, and if forced to do so on the spot, I know I wouldn't judge it better. Kindred they are, but AotW has had the benefit of several years penetrating my consciousness, as well as the experience of several shows, hearing its best songs performed live from the vantage point of the front barrier or within a violent, swirling pit. Seeing and hearing the music live in that fashion has a way of cementing love for the music. Meanwhile, I obviously haven't had nearly as many chances to listen to Wrath as the others, and never seen any of it live. During those first listens, though, I'm not sure I hear enough to overcome my love for AotW.

So if I were to rank them (unfairly for Wrath since I'm doing this so soon after release), it might fall out as:
Ashes of the Wake (90.9% RDF)
Sacrament (100% RDF)
Wrath (81.8% RDF, excluding the bonus tracks. The two bonus tracks earn a red dot, so including them would raise the overall RDF to 84.6%)

Album Tracks:

The Passing: A great twin-guitar sound leads this minor-key intro. This surely will be the show-opening instrumental track for this tour, as it should be due to the way that it can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up in anticipation.

In Your Words: "A sacred cash cow / with sickly tits" is the debated album-opening vocal line that Randy had to fight the rest of the band to include. Good for him, because those seven words not only say a lot, but also let you know right where they're going to go lyrically on this album. Reading the cover story of the April issue of Revolver, they talk about the surprising true singing ability that Randy has, and though the vocals throughout the album are the traditional Blythe death howls, you can hear some of that creeping in early in the song. Listen to this song direct from the vinyl or CD, and enjoy John Campbell's bass line in this.

Set to Fail: The closest Randy comes to singing on the album, and following some simmering spoken words, the best guitar solo on the album. Too short, though.

Contractor: Features the single, most-memorable vocal on the album, "Guaran-fuckin'-teed!" A great bass break right in the middle of the song, and a furious final minute.

Fake Messiah: I think this might be my least favorite song on the album. Nothing really wrong with it, but it's just a bit repetitive and nothing outstanding to make it overly memorable.

Grace: Following my least-favorite track is my favorite. Yes, I love the bluesy half-minute intro - you know something like that is Mark Morton for sure - I love the lyrics, I love the easy-to-sing-along vocals, and especially the twin guitars that take us into the final minute.

Broken Hands: The lyrics to this song are my favorite on the album, and the multiple voices on the chorus are a nice old-school touch. This song is a soulmate to "Descending"

Favorite lyric on the album:
"There's death ahead and doom behind /
There's a bad storm blowing in /
And most of us won't make it /
The wreckage of your past /
Means nothing now, forsake it"

Dead Seeds: The other song on the album not receiving a red dot. Again, nothing particularly wrong. Just not one that stays with me.

Everything To Nothing: Love the roar that opens this song, but there's more of that kinda-annoying shallow snare again. Is there really no added production on these vocals? No double tracking or layering? Damn, that's incredible.

Choke Sermon: Actual guitar solo! I want more of that!

Reclamation: Judging from this advance review, and the fact that this is their longest song to date at 7+ minutes, my guess was that this would be my favorite song on the album. Not quite, but ranks near the top. Think of it as an inferno that begins as smoldering embers, stoked to intensity, then fading the album to an acoustic close on the shores of the ocean. Of course, if you have the deluxe edition, this isn't the album closer.

Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
These tracks are not throwaways. In fact, they're not to be missed and are two of my favorites!

We Die Alone: I like to think of this as a sequel to "Blacken the Cursed Sun." "Can we still be healed? Hell no!! ... We die alone!" Past three minutes it really kicks into another gear, and features some of the best guitar work on the album.

Shoulder Of Your God: Another lyrical malestrom, and one that I hope to see live. This "catalyst of damnation" makes for an intense, proper album-closer. It's too bad that neither of these are on the regular edition of the CD. But maybe they'll turn up that way when Sony/Epic does a reissue within a few years.

If you didn't like my review, here's a track-by-track breakdown from Mark and Randy themselves:

Of course I bought the deluxe edition!

The deluxe edition consists of a vinyl version, the double CD, and a USB flash media drive with the complete album plus two additional tracks! Here's a brief rundown on that package. If you want to buy it in stores, it's limited to Best Buy, at least for now. Not sure what your options are outside of the U.S.A. Let me know if the deluxe edition is available where you live.

Here's the album pre-opening:

All of the stickers were removable. The top label made for a nice addition to the door of my personal media hutch.

The vinyl version (left) separated from the digital versions:

Even though I still buy CDs, I think this is the right way to do albums now. Provide vinyl for those of us that like focused listening sessions because of the great sound and ample canvas that it provides for artwork and liner notes, but ALSO include the full album in non-DRM-wrapped digital files. With that approach, a CD is totally unnecessary. If you really want a plastic disc, you can burn one of your own. The digital files don't necessarily need to be on a flash drive. I like this one but wouldn't want one for every album I buy. An online "locker" with the files added to it once you enter a unique code inside the vinyl could be one option. The online locker could serve as a nice backup, too.

The vinyl version:

This is the first new, non-second-hand vinyl that I have bought in nearly 21 years. The last new vinyl that I bought before this was Savage Amusement, purchased June 1988, the day after I saw Scorpions on the Monsters of Rock Tour stop in Akron.

The artwork for the album has the same "aged red and gold" look as AotW and Killadelphia. The icons throughout the packaging are based on the plagues of Egypt as told in the book Exodus, chapters 7-11. Isn’t it interesting that one of the world’s premier bands is educating their fans on the finer points of a major turning point in Judeo-Christian history and scriptures?

The two-disc digital version:

The second disc of this album is the "Studio Experience" version. It's the separate guitar, bass, drum, and vocal tracks of every song. Want to play along with Chris Adler on the drums? (Good luck...) Learn Willie Adler's guitar parts? Use this CD to listen to the individual parts, remix them, add your own vocals, whatever. Added bonus: some of this would make killer ringtones!

The Lamb of God flash media drive:

The whole album and the isolated tracks, all in 256kbps non-protected MP3 files ready to be transferred to your portable device of choice. Plus, if you're a corporate drone like me, it makes a killer-looking media drive when you pop it into your laptop PC during a presentation to the other corporate drones you work with!

The whole unpackaged deal:

Accompanying all of this in the first 100,000 copies is a code to enter for the Escape the Plague Wrath giveaway, with all kinds of prizes from signed guitars to one-on-one lessons with some of the band members to a BBQ with Randy in your backyard to the grand prize of a trip for two to the Knebworth show, where they'll play with Metallica.

I didn't win anything! But go buy the deluxe edition and see if you're a winner! You'll be a winner anyway with this album!

\m/ (ò_ó) \m/


  • sablespecter

    [quote]I would like to get more "into" LoG[/quote] Start with any of the three I highlight here. I'd probably recommend either [i]Sacrament[/i] (my favorite) or [i]Ashes of the Wake[/i] (the best). Or to keep it simple, start with [i]Wrath[/i] and go backwards. Do NOT start with Burn the Priest or New American Gospel. The online locker definitely needs either standardization, or better yet, you have your own locker and when you buy an album, all the digital tracks are placed there. I can't see managing the hassle of all kinds of separate digital lockers like you describe. What a pain that would be! It's bad enough trying to remember passwords all over the place. Even if you decide you only sorta like them, go. to. a. show! I guaran-fuckin'-tee (to quote Randy) you'll like it for the amazing show it is and the life experience you'll have! Be warned, though: all first-time LoG show attendees have to go through a special welcoming. See the fans welcoming this first-time attendee in the blue sleeves here: [youtube][/youtube]

    11 mars 2009, 5h03m
  • GrantRS

    lol. He could well just be a suicidal headcase. Surely everyone knows what a wall of death is? What can I say though? Not a fan. Probably never will be. Seen some of the behind the scenes footage though as I lived with some dedicated fans once. Not sure which behind the scenes it was, but Randy Blythe was...rather ungentlemanly. I remember asking my flat-mates why they didn't just get a new vocalist - they told me there was no one else that good and I had to try and stop myself from laughing as I suddenly couldn't stop thinking about David Lee Roth taking his place. (That would kick ass, by the way. Imagine DLR giving the instructions to the audience: "Now I want you guys and gals to form a big circle in the middle, right. Ah ha! Come on now, a bit bigger, a bit bigger. Alright. That is what I call a circle. Now when the boys in the band reach the break, I want y'all to run at each other screamin' like your On Fire when Push Comes To Shove, and I want you all to push and shove. I want to hear y'all screamin' Somebody Get Me a Doctor! Whether you're D.O.A. I wanna hear ya. Are you ready to start the House Of Pain? Alright then. One break, comin' up!")

    11 mars 2009, 12h35m
  • sablespecter

    Yeah, I kind of tend to think you won't be a LoG fan. The footage you probably saw was [i]Killadephia[/i], and yeah, after I saw that my feeling was this band wasn't going to make it with Randy for very long. So I am pleased he's gone sober, and he's like a different person. Just play that youtube clip farther above and listen to how different he is. Your flatmates were pretty much right in this case, though. No, Randy's no DLR, but what they meant was for this band and this style of music, he really is really. good. And he actually can sing quite well, too, though that's not going to appear on a LoG album. They're really the current kings of thrash, and they've got that infectious southern groove. I think Randy knows he was Set to Fail, so his heavy drinking has been Laid to Rest and they're gonna stand pat with him as long as he stays clean and Purified. He might be a bit of a Redneck, but he's no longer a Pariah.

    13 mars 2009, 4h34m
  • GrantRS

    Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly willing ot accept that people like it, but since you mentioned it, perhaps you can explain: How are they thrash? I have a sort of perceived idea of what thrash is from listening to the likes of Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax and others, but basically, I don't recognise what they do as thrash. Not to be detrimental or condescending to anyone else's enjoyment, but do you see what I'm saying? If that's thrash, what is death or -core? ...Also, I don't get how no one else finds the idea of David Lee Roth inciting a circle pit or wall of death as hilarious. ...He doesn't actually do it does he? Because if he actually does it and I'm just assuming he doesn't and imagining how funny it would be that would totally explain why no one else finds it funny. That's good work on putting those titles into that paragraph though, as someone who doesn't really recognise the titles (probably the best place to judge from), I have to say the sentences don't sound at all forced. Ok, maybe Purified sounds a bit forced into the sentence, but the others fit brilliantly.

    13 mars 2009, 10h13m

    Thanks for the review...nice one!

    17 mars 2009, 2h07m
  • sablespecter

    Grant: Sure, the Big Four of Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer are the originators of classic thrash. But this is modern thrash. While Randy's vocals are more traditional death metal vocals, LoG are not really playing death metal. It's not as fast as speed metal, but moves at tempos common in thrash, driven by Chris' aggressive drumming pace (and lots of wizardly fills, too), and has the typical complexity of shredding soloing over top of low riffs. Of course, [i]Sacrament[/i], as said above, is the album that stands out from the rest and it's the one that's earned them tags like "groove metal" that used to be applied to Pantera. By contrast, death metal is almost exclusively blast beats and pounding guitars, with little to no melodic soloing. The guitars are all downtuned and usually heavily distorted, and there's often a lot of tremolo picking. Metalcore has lots of melodic elements, and also lots of clean singing. Randy never sings clean. DLR instigating a wall of death? No, I don't think he does that at all ever! It's not so much hilarious as an absurd mental picture! :D

    17 mars 2009, 3h40m
  • Kaz2121

    That deluxe pack looked so tempting, I just bought it from America. Awesome review btw, Wrath is my favourite album by them, but it was the first one I heard and it was what got me into LoG and a lot of other metal, particularly death metal.

    4 avr. 2010, 6h51m
  • Kaz2121

    Oh and I believe that LoG and other similar bands should be classified as post-thrash, as bands still form and gain popularity that are similar to classic thrash metal, so while LoG and such are definitely a form of thrash metal, they should be differentiated from classic styled thrash bands.

    4 avr. 2010, 6h53m
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