Lamb of God is one of the most successful metal bands in modern music. The band’s albums are wildly successful for such an intense style of music (their third album, Ashes of the Wake, debuted at number 27 on the Billboard 200, and their fourth release, Sacrament, debuted at number 8); Lamb of God has opened up for bands as prestigious as Slayer, and is about to embark on a tour to promote its latest release, Wrath. This album, while not a decisively big step forward for the band’s sound, is a solid release, and helps justify why Lamb of God is so successful and revered.
Wrath opens up with the now quintessential somber acoustic guitar intro that a good 90% of modern metal bands feel is necessary to prepare listeners for the tracks that follow. This song, “The Passing,” is in no way bad, yet is completely forgettable. The “real” tracks that follow, all ten of them, are intensely heavy chunks of modern Groove Metal which emphasize on breakdowns and taking things at a moderate pace while keeping the music as intense as possible. The first three tracks following the intro, “In Your Words,” (a slower, yet guttural track with a perfect beginning and suitably melodic end) “Set to Fail,” (one of the faster tracks on the album, is an absolute freight train of riffs featuring a fantastic solo) and “Contractor,” (no doubt the best song on the album: an intense politically charged collection of some of the best riffs and breakdowns in modern metal) are hands-down the best ones on the album. The tracks that follow these are great additions to the band’s collection, each featuring their own individual yet familiar sound, but don’t quite live up to the nature of the ones previously mentioned.
All the members of the band are in top form here, as well, performing with great technicality and rhythm. Drummer Chris Adler does a great job of improving his status as one of the best drummers in the scene by providing great fills and deviations from the already complicated rhythms and patterns of the songs. Vocalist Randy Blythe is absolutely superb, as his unique style of inhaling and screaming, while still sounding decipherable, is so fitting for the band’s sound it’s scary. Bassist John Campbell is showing more initiative with this release, as he his bass is more audible than on others,’ yet many times his talent cannot be heard due to slightly poor mixing.
All in all, Wrath provides a fantastic fix of ridiculously heavy tracks for diehard Lamb of God fans. While everything great I’ve said about this album is true, there is one chilling thing which will put this album off of many people’s lists: it sounds almost identical to the band’s last release, Sacrament. That album showed the band taking a more Groove Metal oriented sound as opposed to their previous Metalcore sound, and while many fans disapproved of this decision, most accepted it with open arms. Sacrament remains one of the heaviest and greatest slabs of modern metal ever released (rarely any other tracks come close to the brutality of “Redneck” and “Beating on Death’s Door”), but the band’s decision to create “Sacrament 2.0” with this release will almost assuredly divide fans. Because of this, if you weren’t fan of Lamb of God before this release, picking this one up will definitely not change your thoughts, and if you didn’t dig Sacrament then you won’t dig this.
As of now, Lamb of God is a powerful force of musical intensity, and Wrath provides more pieces of ammunition for the new and improved weapon that Sacrament created. However, music, as with weaponry, must be improved constantly in order to gain the upper-hand on opponents, and I fear if the band doesn’t experiment with their sound dramatically over this release, its weapon will no longer be effective.