KKKK – “Virginian sluggers unleash the fury on punishing fifth album”
When Lamb Of God stormed the American Billboard charts at number eight with 2006’s Sacrament, it signaled a major shift among the ranks of the heavy metal hierarchy. After years of hard work and steady progress that ceased to relent, the Virginia quintet found themselves being regarded as the heir to the throne once occupied by the likes of Pantera and the gradually-slowing Slayer.
Having responded to their success by removing themselves from the public eye for an entire year, the group’s fifth album proper is one that could easily have seen previously raging fires begin to smoulder. Fortunately, this is not the case, for just as it’s name suggests Wrath is an album built on a foundation of pure, unbridled rage. Moving away from the grand production and larger-than-life refrains of its predecessor, Wrath sees the return of raw, stripped-down sound that reflects the approach the band have taken this time around. From the moment that the classical acoustics of intro track The Passing give way to the sharp, stabbing riffs of In Your Words, it’s an album that focuses on little other than pace and intensity. Fast and furious, there are moments of unbridled fury not seen since the release of their As Palaces Burn breakthrough six years prior. Set To Fail opens with a barrage of blastbeats before unleashing one of the finest groove-laden riffs likely to be heard this year, while Contractors sees a huge, slow-paced breakdown give way to one of the fastest and most punishing passages of the band’s career. Elsewhere there are haunting melodies (Broken Hands), thrash metal blasts (Everything To Nothing) and doom-laden darkness (Reclamation), all of which combine to great effect. It’s a patchwork of conflicting elements that has become part-and-parcel of the band’s formula, yet there are moments on Wrath designed to surprise. Grace opens with flamenco-style guitars reminiscent of thrash’s 80s heyday, sitting alongside the jarring, off-kilter rhythms of Fake Messiah; a song that is arguably the weakest on display yet succeeds in adding texture and variation.
However, perhaps the greatest weapon in Wrath’s arsenal is its duration. Clocking in at just over 40 minutes it struggles to overstay it’s welcome, choosing instead to leave as swiftly and abruptly as it came: the results of which leave little rooms for complaint, but also little doubt that Lamb Of God are a band firmly on the top of their game.
Pre-order the album HERE.