Lamb Of God is one of the most respected, influential and successful bands in modern metal. They’ve built up a following over the course of their career due to their abrasive, uncompromising yet technical sound and their renowned live shows which have become revered and admired both because of the band’s ability to create a great atmosphere and also because they (arguably) sound even better live than on studio recordings. Their gigs are also some of the most hectic and in-your-face you’ll go to – I should know as I lost both my trainers in the pit in one of their London headlining gigs and had to endure the rest of their set with people parading over my feet. But it was worth it. Even though I’d been a Lamb Of God fan for years, that was my first time seeing them live and it made me truly understand why their gigs had played a big part in their popularity.
The band was first formed in 1990, by ever present members, Chris Adler (drummer) and John Campbell (bassist), and also Mark Morton (guitarist) who left the band for three years to focus on his studies, before returning to the band to become a fully-fledged member. Randy Blythe (vocalist) and Willie Adler (guitarist) soon joined the ranks. The band was first named Burn The Priest and built up a following with DIY shows; soon, a self-titled album was released, but if you listen to that album, the band is incomparable to the monster it’s become today. Off the back of that album, the band decided to change their name to Lamb Of God, and the rest, as they say, is history.
As Lamb Of God, the band’s released 6 albums. All of which have set the tone for following releases. New American Gospel was released in 2000 and had a sound more influenced by groove metal; As the Palaces Burn was released in 2003 and was arguably the band’s first step into their trademark sound; Ashes of the Wake was released in 2004 and is still the band’s best-selling album, home to favourites such as Laid to Rest and Now You’ve Got Something To Die For; Sacrament was released in 2006 and was the top-selling metal album of the year and was nominated for a Grammy Award; Wrath was released in 2009, and although it had mixed reviews by critics it was well appreciated, for the most part, by fans. It was possibly the rawest-sounding material the band had produced since the early days, but because of the quality of the song-writing, it didn’t matter that much and the rawness added to the passion and invention on the album.
This, then, brings us to the band’s newest album, titled Resolution. It’s been produced and mixed by Josh Wilbur, who worked with the band on Wrath. So, we can expect a raw-sounding, perhaps under-produced album that while it doesn’t allow the whole of the band’s sound to filter through, it adds a sense of personality to the album – a sense of in-your-face DIY that shows even though Lamb Of God is one of the biggest metal bands, they’re keen to prove that an album hasn’t got to be mixed and produced to death, to enable it to sound good. And they’ve certainly achieved their goal.
The album starts with ‘Straight For The Sun’. Evil, dark, chunky riffs, along with slow, measured drums and Blythe’s snarled, tortured vocals make for a listen that is unsettling but satisfying in the misery and hate it conveys. It’s a heavy start to the album and it ensures the listener’s attention is snared for the following track, and the rest of the album.
‘Desolation’ brings together frantic, machine-like drumming; rhythmical, grooving riffs; and Blythe’s trademark vocals which fluctuate between high screams and low, furious shouts for an anger-inducing, high-tempo effect. It’s a different direction to the opening track, one that the band have tried and tested, and it’s pleasing to hear the band aren’t changing things too much and are sticking to a formula which has worked so well for them.
‘The Number Six’ has a riff that, although it’s fairly technical, doesn’t overshadow the rest of the track. It guides the track but doesn’t leave the other instruments behind – this is none more obvious when the bass rears out of the soaring guitars and patters its way through a bass-line that is both intelligent and solid at the same time. However, the song still has dark connotations, as Blythe declares these lyrics: ‘You’ve dug your own grave with your spite / You’ve dug your own grave lie by lie / A cancer that needs to be cut out / Sweet slander the razor to your throat.’
‘To The End’ combines high-end pinches with frenetic riffs and technical, impressive drumming that sees drummer Chris Adler beating the life out of his high-hats and china cymbal. A bluesy guitar solo, or two, also surfaces, which shows the pedigree and musical ability of the guitarists, as they’re able to fit such impressive and technical solos into a track which relies on the already impressive riffs. The track shows Lamb Of God aren’t just about making angry, dark music: they’re also inventive and creative when it comes to texturing and adding impressions to their tracks.
‘Visitation’ also has impressive guitars that we know Lamb Of God has in abundance and they’re the most impressive part of the song – especially when the solo comes into play. Again, it has essences of blues influence. Along with the solo and Adler’s drumming and Blythe’s snarled, screamed vocals, it’s imaginable that this is a track that will go down well in a live environment as the sound manages to be all-encompassing but also gives off an effect of anger and rebellion, making it a dark and anguished listen. It’s a good addition to the album.
Resolution may not be the best produced album this year, but that isn’t the point. Lamb Of God has shown that a band hasn’t got to invest all their energy and money into production for an album to still sound good. If anything, the raw sound adds to the dark and personal effect they were striving for. With this album, the band has shown they’re still one of the leaders in the genre.