Lamb Of God - Ashes Of The Wake

posted by Greg, Thursday August 19, 2004 @ 06:58:28 PM

Artist: Lamb Of God (http://www.lamb-of-god.com)
Album: Ashes Of The Wake
Release Date: August 31st, 2004
Label: Sony/Epic



Rating: 9.5/10

Recommended Tracks: Laid To Rest, Walk The Faded Line, One Gun (hell, all of them really)

August 31st was a great day to be a metalhead, as we were blessed with not one but two incredible album releases - the new Mastodon album and this metal monstrosity Lamb of God has created. If you've heard or read any type of metal media the past few years you've undoubtedly heard the name "Lamb of God" mentioned somewhere, as they have been building a steady underground buzz since their 2000 debut set the death metal world on its ear. With this new album, Lamb of God may put Richmond, VA on the map as the new heavy metal capital of the U.S., if not the whole world.

Every aspect of this album showcases the band in top form, as this is easily their most polished and complete work to date. Every single note, every single growl and scream has a sense of urgency and aggression few bands could ever hope to match. Randy Blythe's vocals have improved leaps and bounds since the guttural gurgling from 2000's New American Gospel, as he delivers a constantly anguished scream that not only compliments the rest of the music perfectly but is also surprisingly easy to understand to the well-trained metal ear. Guitarists Willie Adler, Mark Morton, and John Campbell keep the razor-sharp riffing heard on 2003's As The Palaces Burn intact on this album, while human blast machine Chris Adler brings it all together on the back end with drumming so brutal and technically precise you'll think he has about eight arms and six feet going at the same time.

The music itself is also some of the band's strongest material to date, striking an excellent balance between the raw brutality of Gospel and the dry riffing on Palaces. Each song is a constant barrage of pit-inducing riffs, machine gun-efficient drumming, and soul-piercing vocal attacks. The screamed "SEE WHO GIVES A FUCK!" chorus to the opening track "Laid To Rest" will have you up out of your chair looking for something to break and someone to fight - a sure sign you've got a winner on your hands. The band doesn't let up from there, as this album is 40 minutes of no filler, killer metal from start to finish. Whereas Gospel hit with all the subtelty of a brick to the face, and Palaces came through like a series of body blows from a heavyweight prize fighter, Ashes is the most focused of the bands' albums yet, going right for the jugular on track 1 and standing over you to watch you bleed to death for the rest of the album.

The one slight misstep on this album is some of the lyrical content, more specifically some of the spoken tracks that introduce a few of the songs. I've never liked having politics shoved down my throat in my music (thank you very much Rage Against The Machine), and Lamb of God unfortunately slip in a cheesy reference here and there to things like the war in Iraq and other political matters. Luckily these are confined to three short intros to three of the songs, and their music does the talking for the rest of the album.

...And what a job of talking it is. I can say without any hesitation that this was the number one album release I have been looking forward to this year, but I'm sad to say that it didn't live up to my expectations - instead, it completely blew them out of the water, stomped all over them, set them on fire, and pissed on them to put them out. This album will definitely be a strong contender for album of the year on my list as well as the lists of other web sites and magazines. So far it's left the ashes of all other bands in its wake, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for these guys, both musically and otherwise.

- Greg

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