Lamb of God – Lamb of God
Released: June 19th, 2020
Lamb of God Lineup:
Dr. Randall Blythe | Vocals
Mark Morton | Guitars
Willie Adler | Guitars
John Campbell | Bass
Art Cruz | Drums
Lamb of God Online:
There is something of a gravity to a record that shares its name with the band – a statement of sorts. In this particular collection of songs, over all of the others, it was this record that made a band go ‘yep — this is us’. For an outfit like Lamb of God, who have always stood by their iconic style without compromise, the self-titled album invokes a kind of ‘final form’ imagery: the be-all and end-all definitive LOG. This effort comes five years after their last album, VII: Sturm und Drang, and after further delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, anticipation is high. Let’s break it down.
We’ll open with the obvious: Lamb of God have stayed absolutely true to form, and continue to explore their brand of traditional heavy music: a style they’ve become champions of, and are keeping strong. They have never been a band to ride trends, or try and sound like anything other than exactly themselves. In this respect, the self-title is apt. If you have enjoyed the career of LOG, there is no real reason you won’t enjoy this record. For many this record will be a refreshing breath of consistency, sincerity, and rawness – something significant in a scene rapidly dominated by the ‘overproduced’ sonic palette of contemporary bands. They stand firmly apart: rooted in the gutsy, organic approach they’ve stayed loyal to. This is echoed throughout Blythe’s lyrical direction, which feels clearer and more refined than ever. He delivers some truly scathing lines on our social nature: “Pursuing illusions while we turn a blind eye / This is the new abnormal” (‘Reality Bath’), which is part of an emergent duality to the chaos and order of the album’s messages. “I could sit here and be a negative Nancy, and just write a completely 100% nihilist record”, says Blythe, “(but) it was important for me to have positivity in here.”
The openings to tracks such as ‘Checkmate’ and ‘Reality Bath’ bring us right into a studio session feel. It comes across like a deliberate choice, and parallels the greater collaborative efforts that took place during the writing process, which guitarist, Mark Morton, remarks was something new for the band – something that “started on the last record and continued on this one”. Stepping into this collaborative dynamic is new drummer, Art Cruz, who has had some large shoes to fill in the wake of founding member and ex-drummer Chris Adler’s departure from the band after a motorbike accident in 2017. Cruz at once proves himself to be more than competent, complementary to the LOG sound, and stylistically distinctive in his own right.
Some of these new tracks capture the epitome of what the bluesy, riff-driven, classic LOG style has to offer. The blistering 5th track, ‘New Colossal Hate’, expertly dances around some absolute headbanger riffs, and melodic chorus hooks without ever sacrificing the intensity of Blythe’s vocal delivery. And we must take a moment to discuss the absolutely filthy closer, ‘On the Hook’, wielding a brand of true viciousness you don’t often hear from giants this late into their career. We might look to kings like Slipknot who have found dignity in their freakishness, but undeniably lost the brute anger of their earlier years. ‘On the Hook’ has a genuine ferociousness to it – maybe it’s those gut wrenching highs that we rarely hear from Blythe, or the chilling, impending doom delivery to “kill them all”.
Unsurprisingly, LOG have proven themselves to be masters of this iconic sound – and after 8 albums honing in on this craft, you would certainly hope so. The critical thing that holds this record back from being all it could be is a deficiency in boundary pushing. We are given just a taste of what new levels this outfit could rise to, with the right mindset. The 8th track, ‘Routes’, concludes by riding out the climax riff: a driving half time groove, which the band has elevated with some striking tribal percussion and deep, droning chants. These additional elements, while subtle, are really quite significant. They create a totally different atmosphere, and invoke different emotions that no other section on the record captures. An epic moment, which hints at the possibility of potential that the band – perhaps – hasn’t quite grasped yet.
Ultimately the biggest drawback to this record is that it sounds too stylistically similar to every other album Lamb of God has released. There is much to enjoy in the 45 minutes of this album, especially if you already count yourself as a fan. It is, by all means, a blistering expression of raw heavy music, exactly as Lamb of God have always done. No real risks taken, no real bold steps into new territory. It feels as though the outfit are simply enjoying the process of songwriting and creation. I look forward to seeing what they might achieve if they turn their sights on pushing some boundaries. Until then, this crushing self-titled release is a powerful representation of the core sound which Lamb of God have stayed true to, and never fail to deliver on.
Lamb of God – Lamb of God tracklisting
- Memento Mori
- Reality Bath
- New Colossal Hate
- Resurrection Man
- Poison Dream
- Bloodshot Eyes
- On The Hook
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