Epic Records – 2008 – USA

They may be peddling a proven formula by album number five (this here “Wrath”), but the musical evidence strongly suggests that Lamb of God aren’t has-beens just yet. This latest slew of original material burns with righteous fury from start to finish, even if a soothing instrumental titled “The Passing” opens the curtains with acoustic guitars and a solemn mood. Then “In Your Words” arrives all-guns-blazing and Randy Blythe utters the lyrics in his trademark throaty growl, sounding his best since 2004’s “Ashes of the Wake.” Judging by how the rhythm and guitars jell, “In Your Words” is almost “Laid To Rest” part two, except it carries the same radio rock appeal of the last album’s “Walk With Me In Hell.”

While Lamb of God remain faithful to their patented sound, the most casual listener won’t miss the tiny forays they’ve made into epic territory. Though tracks such as “Set To Fail,” “Dead Seeds,” and “Everything To Nothing” are grooves galore, furious thrash metal characterize “Contractor” and “Choke Sermon.” Proof of further variety arrives in a few huge surprises. Case in point is “Grace,” which is perhaps the most inventive track the quintet has written for any of their albums. It begins soft and—for lack of a better word—graceful with these beautiful guitar notes before roaring to life in an overpowering wave of double pedal mayhem and an unrelenting tempo. Guitar solos remain scarce throughout “Wrath” even if the Morton-Adler duo are adding more flourishes to their growing oeuvres. Meanwhile the OTHER Adler and his bass mate John Campbell work a flawless rhythm section to accompany their mainman Randy’s vocal style. It’s really same old, same old, but with a scattering of new—did that make sense?

Album closer “Reclamation” is an immense, brooding number that starts with the sound of waves crashing against a shore—Death Angel’s “Seemingly Endless Time” comes to mind—until the music rips and it seems as if the world is falling apart. It’s terrifying and apocalyptic, burning for minutes in a firestorm of raw vocals and somber atmosphere. More bonus tracks follow, but they don’t quite fit as the album’s proper finish. Far from disappointing, even the worst critics will have to acknowledge this is—at the very least—a solid effort. It’s more than that, actually. Metalheads are almost compelled to try 2009’s most consistent listen. Guaran-fucking-teed.


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