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Ah, Lamb of God. Has anyone ever approached Lamb of God with anything resembling calmness? Fanboys and haters everywhere: surely a band who polarise opinion in such a way should be very special indeed? A band who have an utterly unique and innovative style? Well, those bands tend to be ignored by most people. Lamb of God are no such thing, neither truly unique or innovative, but perhaps, just perhaps, 'Ashes of the Wake' was an important contribution to the heavy metal encyclopaedia, and perhaps there is a reason why this band's entry is so well thumbed.
The first LoG album was shit and had awful production, while the second was a vast improvement and had a medium-good production. This album finally gives the band a sound that plays to their strengths and doesn't leave the guitars feeling lifeless and over-polished, like on the following 'Sacrament'. They sound heavier and more in-your-face here than anywhere else and they do have some decent songs to back them up. There are some bad and uninspired riffs (I'm currently listening to 'Now You've Got Something to Die For' and the first good riff is 2 minutes in) which don't help things very much, since I'm not a big fan of breakdowns or plain, "listen to the heaviness" riffs, but the sound helps those poor moments more than on any other LoG album and lets every band member shine through.
However, there are a fair number of riffs on the album and some of them are pretty good. My tolerance for chug and fill riffs is high and LoG really do excel at this sort of thing, with at least one decent example in each song. The guitarists palm-mute a lot, so they sound quite groovy, yet the fluidity of the fills (tone aside) is reminiscent of a more interesting classic/modern synthesis that should appeal to many different metalheads. There aren't many straight-ahead lead moments on 'Ashes of the Wake', with just a few songs containing solos, including the largely instrumental title track which includes Chris Poland's (ex-Megadeth) contribution. The leads are played well and with some technical skill: I like them a lot, though that might be due to their rarity and the relief they bring from what is otherwise a barrage of slightly samey riffs. The atmospheric leads on 'The Faded Line' are actually the most unusual thing here, especially the flattened tone of that weird melody that crops up. It sounds almost like a wind instrument (I'm thinking didgeridoo) or a drone aircraft or very persistent flatulence - whatever it is, it's a little creepy and cool, although that part never comes to much.
I spent so long talking about the guitarists because they do dominate the album, regardless of Chris Adler's presence on drums. He is, and has been recognised as, a very skilled drummer, yet he doesn't make such a big impact on 'Ashes of the Wake' because the rhythms are actually laid down by the guitars and he can't alter those repetitive patterns with too much of his own creativity. I mean, his fills and beats and general assault are great, but he just doesn't have the flexibility to stand out for long - LoG don't provide those kind of opportunities. The bass also isn't allowed many of its own manoeuvres, since it takes a lot of effort just to keep the guitars in check; however, John Campbell isn't as pointless a presence as he would later become. I leave Randy Blythe for last because I don't know about him. He's got a fairly brutal voice that always sounds somewhat overdriven and in fact does the album both a big favour and a minor disservice by singing with the rhythms and not grabbing all the attention. On that first head, his style is too uniform to warrant being at the forefront of the songs, especially since he has a lot of lyrics for each song; on the second point, because he doesn't create any new patterns, and certainly no new melodies, the music can become rather plain at times if the riffs fail to deliver.
The songs don't leave a lot to choose between them, except for the title track, which is more lead-oriented and unfocused than the others, and 'Now You've Got Something to Die For', which is shitter than the others. I'm a fan of those curious moments on 'The Faded Line' and the dynamics of 'Break You', while the two opening tracks are also worth your time. Perhaps 'Omerta' is too sluggish and chuggy, with a lot of time spent on breakdowns, plus the closer disappoints on the riff front, despite some nice clean moments.
Lamb of God have never done anything hugely revolutionary for metal, though 'Ashes of the Wake' (and arguably the preceding 'As the Palaces Burn') are two solid groove metal albums that pack in the riffs and maintain a high intensity without pandering overtly to the mainstream. Maybe this isn't the most exciting or interesting album to listen to, but it is very satisfying and deserves repeated listens. Sometimes, you know, I'm just hungry for meat and potatoes.
Lamb of God is a band that I find you can't help but like some of their work, but there always seems to be something to dislike about them. 'Ashes of the Wake' is a prime example of this, an album that features several likable qualities yet fails to deliver anything spectacular.
'Laid to Rest' is easily the best song on the album, featuring some really neat hooks from Mark and Willie and epic drumming from Chris. Randy's vocals are - as ever - awesome too, and the whole song just gives that great feeling of being the perfect blend of heavy and melodic. I don't know how anyone can dislike this song, it's simply too good for anyone to think otherwise.
Unfortunately though, not every song is as good as 'Laid to Rest'. And when most of the songs sound pretty similar to each other, that's not a good thing at all. Listening through the album, every song seems to start in the same way, and the only songs that don't sound like they're just ripping off the other works are 'Laid to Rest', 'Remorse Is for the Dead' and the title track. The worst bit about that is that even they do sound a little similar to the others in places.
Pretty much the further you listen through the record, the more you realise that every song either features similar drumming or similar guitar riffs. This is no clearer than when you hear 'Faded Line' and 'Hourglass' next to each other, the former sounding just like the former but taken up a tempo on the guitars. If the drums weren't different, I'd swear it were the same song. Aside from this, the riffs do seem to be recycled across the album and the drumming (although fantastic) does seem quite similar in places and you can swear that you've heard it before.
The title track is one that deviates from this, almost entirely consisting of an epic guitar duel. The drums that play in the background are as good as they are throughout, but because it's an instrumental Randy's voice is missing from the action. Unfortunately that means that it's not as good as 'Laid to Rest', simply because it isn't LoG without Randy. Other than that it's good, but it's missing an important part of the puzzle out.
So overall, there are some likable songs on this album, but for the most part it just sounds a bit too repetitive and samey to be considered a great groove metal album. It's nowhere near the quality of Chimaira's 'The Impossibility of Reason', despite the tracks on that album having obvious similarities to each other as well, and that's really a bit disappointing. I might consider listening to some of their other stuff, but I think I'll turn to Chimaira first if I want quality groove metal.
I originally had the desire to ignore this album and simply not write a review on it but its seems to be haunting me to get my take on this nonsense. From the already posted reviews, there is a heavy mixture of feelings towards "Ashes of the Wake" and Lamb of God in general. The majority of the posts here are all saying things that are legitimate, whether it be positive or negative. The end verdict, at least on my part, is that Lamb of God can be compared to ice cream. Listening to them a little can be enjoyable, but extended listens can induce painful headaches and an urge to stay away from them for a while.
In my younger years, I loved bands like Pantera and Machine Head, and still do to some extent, so my opinion on Lamb of God closely follows those two bands. All three of these bands (and many others in the groove realm) can write interesting songs so long as they keep the song lengths adequate with the idea pool and stay away from five, six or even seven minute sonic boredom. Pantera got better at this as time went on, though Machine Head never did figure it out before they sank into mediocrity of the lowest degree on "The Burning Red," and Lamb of God seems determined to follow suit. While I did not think "As the Palaces Burn" was mind blowing awesome, it was enjoyable for its compact length of just under 40 minutes. The album presented some interesting things going on, and the raw sound quality kept Randy Blythe's interference to a minimum. "Ashes of the Wake" is not so fortunate, attempting something memorable but falling down a staircase in the process.
The music here is not entirely different from before, but with a few missing features. For one, I loved the way "As the Palaces Burn" sounded with its sub-standard but not unbearable sound quality. It possessed a sense of raw charm that kept me from selling it a week after I had it. "Ashes of the Wake" is cleaner in sound, and simply funnels off the ideas from before. Sure, those ideas worked on the previous album, but on this album, they become stale and simply boring as time moves on. Instead of manifesting any real creative stride here, as any major band should aspire to do at some point, we simply run off a well of mid-tempo energy. The riffs aren't particularly noteworthy, though there are a few exceptions, and Chris Adler does push himself to catch the listener's attention every once in a while. Chris Adler remains my favorite musician in this band, and remains the strongest link in the chain.
A few noteworthy songs to toss out there would be "Hourglass," "The Faded Line," and "Omerta." None of these three are particularly amazing, as they end up becoming above average groove metal. I can tolerate groove metal so long as it presents interesting concepts relative to its song durations, which these three songs do. The spoken word introduction to "Omerta" is a nice touch considering its lyrical content but begins to grow unnecessary on repeat listens. "Reclamation" also presents a few interesting things going on, including contrasting sections that hold together well enough. This band has always put their best material in the last song, just too bad "Reclamation" doesn't have alot of competition in terms of quality.
Aside from the instrumental mishaps and stagnation that occurs, the weakest link on this album and in this band is Randy Blythe. Plenty of others have said it but it bears repeating that he is not only monotous in his delivery but also very grating. I have heard a number of annoying vocalists defile my sense of hearing including the singer in Mastodon, but Randy Blythe takes the cake. To dissect what he sounds like, it honestly sounds like the quasi-death growls Phil Anselmo did on "Far Beyond Driven" mated with the bark of a coyote who suffers from a bad case of constipation. The wretched spawn of this mating then became Blythe's voice, which he decided to share with the world in his quaint little band. However, even this is not the worst part of this album, which I dive into in the next paragraph.
"Ashes of the Wake" was spawned in the year 2004, the year that every musician and his mother decided to voice their political opinions. Naturally, the heated opposition to George W. Bush and his brand of unquestioning Nationalism spawned alot of angst directed in the political realm, but very few bands approached the subject with any iota of intelligence. The best example of this, of course, was Green Day who refined the art of making a jack ass of yourself by approaching politics in a comical and unintelligible way. Lamb of God does this slightly better, but keep in mind the comparison. The band violated Songwriting 101 in that you are not supposed to write songs that are very current, which this album is. Its very anti-Bush and anti-war in its message. Its not so much whether I agree or disagree with their opinions, its that these opinions are shoved down the listener's throat. I absolutely detest bands trying to force their views on the audience, which is practically what 90% of those who voiced their opinions in 2004-2005 ended up doing. Considering most of the lyrical content on this album is obsolete as I'm writing this, it only proves my point. MegaDeth and early Sepultura knew how to write political songs that would be relevant years after its composition, not becoming a relic of a bygone era less than five years after its release. Apparently, Lamb of God did not get that memo.
In the end, I do not look kindly on "Ashes of the Wake." This band has gotten better as time has marched forward, although their evolution is a painfully slow one. Part of this album's pit falls is the lack of interesting concepts thrown into an album that is trying to be something ambitious. This occurs with most groove metal bands out there at some point, just look to how "The Blackening" played out. The other part is the lyrical writings, which seem like they were written out of angst over something very real yet had no real direction and instead tried to make something simple out of something that is very complex. If politics must be included in a recorded music form, they should never be current and/or specific, the two areas this band based their writings on heavily. To potential buyers, I'd simply say leave this album for the vultures as it offers very little that this band has not done better either before or since. If you absolutely must hear this, then seek it out at the bargain bin for $3 and don't even think of going any higher.
With the dawn of the new century came a load of new ideas, one of those being in the music idea. The genre being "metalcore", as it is called, although being underground in the late 90's, a few groups helped this genre rise up from the underground and become the commercial monster it is today, one of those bands is Lamb of God.
When this band first released their album as the title they are under now, they were nothing more than a basic metalcore type band to me, but eventually they grew more and more into the metal realm, being more influenced by heroes of the more popular metal bands of the 90's such as Pantera, and Machine Head. With all the change they were taking, they got signed after their 2nd release (third if you include the Burn the Priest album), and released this album which I believe to be there second best album. This album was important to the whole genre of metalcore itself, having the lead single on Guitar Hero and introducing a whole new legion of people to the somewhat extreme for of music.
Before talking about the music, I thought i'd talk about the production, which I find solid. The guitar is good in the mix, you can hear the riffs, and solos when played, the drums are quite audible, and the vocals are in the mix well also. The only problem I have is that the bass is a little quiet but whatever. On to the good stuff.
The album opens up with Laid to Rest, the song which is featured on Guitar Hero 2, and for good purpose, I believe the riffs are excellent, and to be honest, sound awesome (probably why they put it on guitar hero). The drumming in this song, and the album in general is pretty basic metal thrash/groove metal drumming, with the occasional good fill and cool drum lines. Metalcore is often crapped on for using breakdowns alot, which I think is stupid it gets crapped on, the bands that are "true" metal also use this, such as old cryptopsy(if you don't believe that just play a few songs on None so Vile), as well as Suffocation. While used on this album, I find that the breakdowns are well placed, and fun to listen to.
Solos on this album are spacious, but sweet, with the biggest highlight for fans of solos being on the title track, with a solo from Chris Poland (Megadeth fame), and Alex Skolnick (Testament fame), as well as a solo from the two guitarists of the band. The guitar playing on this album is fun and creative enough that I can honestly say I think they are the best guitarist of the new genre of metal, while they may not be as awesome as Dave Murray/Adrian Smith, they know their way around the guitar. The main turnoff in the instrumentation is that the drumming is way more simple than the As the Palaces Burn album,which I found to be excellent, but this is probably a showing of the changes to a more groove oriented sound.
Many of the lyrics deal with a anti war stance, and liberal stances in other things, while I do not offhand agree with all the material, I think it was all pretty well thought out stuff, the only exception being the spoken lines in the song "Ashes of the Wake", I just found that annoying and the only turnoff on that solid song.
Overall, I found this album to be excellent, and probably could compare it to the Master of Puppets of thrash, or the Altars of Madness of death metal, while not as technical as other releases, it is largely influential on their own respective genre, as this album is to metalcore or possibly future genres of music to be pioneered.
Lamb of God just made one of those albums when you listen to the first song; you're instantly drawn to listen to the rest of the songs. This album is by far better and more challenging for the band than other pieces they have made. The CD itself is probably the best album they have made in the history of Lamb of God
Randy's vocals seem to have improved a lot since "As The Palaces Burn". Randy's voice sounds stronger, with more emotion than before. They are on their way to become a very successful band if they keep work like this up. I do ask that Randy never clean sings because it’s just not his thing. I’d say just keep on screaming Randy because he has a pure talent for his high pitched growls. In the song Omerta I loved the beginning of the song. Here is a part from the beginning intro “Whoever appeals against this law is either a fool or a coward…” So and, and so forth it’s a genius thing to do.
The guitarist in the band has definitely improved as well. They seem to do more complicated rifts than before. Their solos are by far some of the best I’ve heard. In songs “Laid To Rest”, and “One Gun” Both of their guitarists work and sound well together with very impressive solos. They have a driving force behind their music that makes you want to listen to it again and again. This band is a very unique band, and I can sense that they have a very thrashy kind of feel to the band which makes them very interesting to listen to.
John Campbell the bassist for Lamb of God is perfect. Absolutely nothing wrong with how he sounds. It is in perfect sync with Chris Adler AKA Lamb of Gods Drummer. It his toned right and played perfectly, and some of the rifts are actually kind of hard to play for bass. In my opinion he is absolutely perfect for this band.
The drummer, which in my opinion is one of my favorite drummers of all time, can play almost any style of music. Every beat I hear from him is impressive. I have been drumming for 5 years now and what Chris Adler does is still hard to do. He never sounds off when he plays he is on tempo very time. In the song One Gun his drumming is amazing and perfectly executed with every other member of the band.
All in all the band is well on their way to becoming very big, being sold in many stores like Target, or Best Buy. Which they deserve it they are a very impressive Thrash/Death band. Everyone in the band has given all they have for this talented band and in my opinion I believe it worked for them. Randy, Willie, John, Chris, and Mark are all talented musicians and they are a very impressive band.
Ah what a great album! Don't let the other people who rate this poorly and label it as metalcore get you down, it's really not all that core-y at all and it is by far one of the best albums to come out of the so called New Wave of American Heavy Metal.
First off- to refute the "oh it's too repetitive blah blah they sound the same on every song" people, check this, they are GROOVE metal. Groove. Metal. That means that they will establish a groove and keep it flowing, kinda like Pantera or other post-thrash bands. If you don't like repetition then I guess this album maybe would rub you the wrong way at first, as it did to me. The first time I listened to this, I wondered what all the hype was about. It took me about five listens all the way through to see exactly what this band has done, and now that I can see it I truly understand how wrong my initial feelings were.
Now to review the actual music:
First off the guitar tone is great- it's gritty and fits the low-end riffing perfectly. As each riff progresses and evolves, the music and mood moves with it and the guitarwork here is obviously just outstanding. Yes, there is lots of palm muting but it sounds really great, and plus those solos and sharp, fast, articulate, stuttering riffs are very difficult to perform, palm mute or not. Now that I think about it, the band really sounds like Dream Theater combined with a Death/Thrash band on this album which is really sweet. You might argue that the guitars use the Egyptian-sounding riffs/scales/modes too much, but it fits, since a lot of the music is about the war in Iraq, which is a Middle Eastern country as we all know :) What really makes the riffs great is how they combine that Middle-Eastern sound with normal blues pentatonic riffs to keep it "rocking" enough to call it groove metal. All in all, the guitarists are relentless and are quite talented.
Bass next- I wouldn't have guessed it, but this guy really can kick it into high gear! I had to see them live to see how he literally DOUBLED the guitars occasionally on some of the fastest parts on the album. Yes, with a pick, on fatter strings, he played twice as fast as the already insanely crazy guitarists. He's nuts. Totally earned me respect. Points off for not punching through enough though! Come on man, if you got it flaunt it!
Drums- Outstanding. Perfect. Remorse is for the dead has by far the best military-style drum part in the intro I've ever heard. This drummer is so creative while obviously being a fast metal player at the same time. His fills are awesome, his addition to the groove is seamless, and he doesn't overdo it ever really. Great, all in all.
Vocals- Topnotch black screams. His voice is very good yet original and is instantly recognizable. The bellows, shriek-dives, and etc. are all astounding too. Randy also seems to know exactly when to just use one vocal layer or use many to make it sound like a choir of angry people want you to hate the Iraq war. Wow, he's a great one. I'm also glad that he didn't sing at all, it keeps up the edge all the way through. Points off for the spoken intro to Omerta though, it just sucks. Also the swearing is unnecessarily over-manly and stupid, people take your political opinions less seriously if you use the vocabulary of a high school student. But other than that the lyrics are really cool and have lots of deep metaphors and symbolism to them.
The overall sound is a great Pantera-inspired groove which etches its way through each song. The vocals, solos, and insane riffs punish your until you can barely take it anymore. The songs on the album flow very smoothly and lead to each other well, especially the title track into Remose is for the Dead. If you are a fan of Pantera, extreme metal, or just heavy metal in general, this album will not disappoint. Fans of power/melodic metal beware though: there is no room for pansy stuff on this very serious and brutal record.
This is an album for background listening, a pointless soundtrack to headbanging as some reviewers have stated. It is bland, mediocre, and reeks of wannabe-ism. But it's so damn fun. If you are in the proper mood, this album could provide a suitable soundtrack for you to just headbang and enjoy yourself.
I don't feel I should do a track-by-track as this is frowned upon here, not to mention...it's kinda pointless here. There are 11 tracks and they all pretty much follow the same pattern. Chugging intro with a simplistic lead line over it, Randy Blythe screams over the verses, "rousing" chorus, breakdown, maybe some lead lines, repeat ad nauseum. A few songs however deserve mention. Mostly within the second half of the album, they break the monotony somewhat.
"Blood of the Scribe" and "What I've Become" pick up the pace a little bit tempo-wise, and keep you from falling asleep somewhat. "One Gun" has a cool enough solo, but "Break You" is more boring groove bullshit. "Ashes of the Wake" has good guitarwork and no sign of Randy Blythe to my great relief. I say "good guitarwork" because Alex Skolnick and Chris Poland play guest solos on this track. Lamb of God's leads aren't that bad themselves either. "Remorse Is for the Dead" is only worth mentioning for the clean guitar intro, which is the only clean passage in the whole album.
The disappointment however, is that all the songs sound the same and the few songs that break the pattern ("Blood of the Scribe" and "What I've Become") sound exactly like each other. And then there's the ridiculously monotonous "Omerta". Whereas most of the songs follow a pattern, "Omerta" just chugs endlessly. Most boring song on the whole album. "Break You" is a close second.
To sum up, this band clearly settles for mediocrity when they have potential. Ditch Blythe, and try to sound thrashier, you'll have my attention instead of my indifference. This music is background noise to my bored rowdiness, nothing more, nothing less. And in the end, don't we want more as metalheads? I recommend this as listening if you're really bored one day and just wanna have some background noise, it's easy music to ignore...close your eyes and you might not even notice the songs changing. But I personally would rather listen to something else.
Stand-outs (if you can call them that): "Blood of the Scribe", "One Gun", "What I've Become", "Ashes of the Wake"
Lamb of God are a juggernaut in the modern heavy metal scene. Although Shadows Fall existed before them, LoG are routinely considered so innovative that they justified the coining of a new subgenre: New Wave of American Heavy Metal, an obvious throwback to that legendary era in British traditional/speed metal. To the unfamiliar, NWOAHM refers to the recent surge of American heavy metal bands that combine elements of thrash/groove metal and hardcore to form this unique blend of heavy music. For anyone that can form a musical opinion not previously spawned on MTV, the term is a glorified misnomer for American metalcore, which is certainly not new. Lamb of God, the genre’s champions, are overrated filth that have gotten famous by utilizing the innovations of others and making them mass marketable. Ashes of the Wake is their third full length and one of their most popular albums, but is nonetheless guilty of every flaw that this band and their genre of clichés is capable of.
This is straight up generic metalcore: the “metal” being that abominable groove shit of the 90’s that Pantera and Prong were pumping out, while the “core” comes from that first wave of modern hardcore bands, like Throwdown and Earth Crisis. As with most metalcore bands, the obvious Swedish melodic death metal comparisons are applicable, but to call this stuff death metal is to deliver a kick to the crotch of anyone who’s ever played in a death metal band. Lots of breakdowns reside in these songs, a few up-tempo “thrash” passages, plenty of tough guy screaming, more breakdowns, plenty of pilfered Diabolus-era Slayer riffs, a noticeable lack of actual guitar solos, and more fucking breakdowns. It is quite heavy throughout (there’s one clean riff in the intro to “Remorse is for the Dead”), but that’s a superficial benefit only to those that buy music to mindlessly headbang to. All riffs lead to breakdowns here, so that even when there’s some rad exotic harmony riff or an actual fast fucking riff, it will inevitably descend into a patterned palm-muted purgatory from which few ever return. Many of the breakdowns feature lead melodies over them to hide the fact that they’re generic breakdowns, while others feature one of the few solos of the album and still others don’t even bother to try. Don’t worry about the bass, you probably won’t hear it. Only the drummer of this band is admirable, as he attempts to prog things up occasionally, but too often does he fail to bring the tempo up when need be, resulting in another prolonged groove passage when it could be a thrash one.
Above all else, it’s the vocalist here who sucks the most. Roaring in a pseudo-death growl when there isn’t some shitty spoken part, Randy Blythe follows thousands before him by failing to intimidate anyone. I’m not sure why everyone prefers these hoarse vocals over melodic ones. Anybody can growl like this prick, but not just anyone can wail like Rob Halford or soar like Russell Allen. Lyrics are typical and repetitive, so expect to hear him roaring about the same things over and over again.
“Laid to Rest” is the fan favorite on here as well as the least repugnant, but I think that’s only because it’s the first song. Every subsequent song follows in its stylistic footsteps, elevating repetitiveness to frustration. Fans of these guys will eat this shit up of course, though if there was one song that sucked worse than the rest it was “Omerta.” This song features a lengthy spoken intro (which is dumb in and of itself, especially when they do it live) before proceeding into some four minutes of grooving that never picks up.
Speaking of never picking up, don’t pick up this album, unless of course you like below-average metalcore with far more emphasis on the “core” than on the “metal.”
Originally written for The Riff Repository (http://riffrepository.awardspace.com/)
As of late, Lamb of God have been receiving lots of accolades and have become one of the darling children of the modern extreme metal scene. At first, I thought it was a lot of hype. I didn't particularly care for the raw production and banshee-like screams of Randy Blythe on my casual listens to the New American Gospel. As the Palaces Burn was a slightly better experience, with improved vocal work.
And then I listened to Ashes of the Wake.
Although they have been dubbed part of the "New Wave of American Heavy Metal", which seems to have exclusively metalcore connotations to it, Lamb of God pick up where Pantera left off with a very groove-heavy take on thrash. While many people will claim that Ashes of the Wake offers little from it's predecessor and in fact claim that LoG are showing signs of losing what makes them original, I beg to differ. Metal elitists need to get off of their high horses and admit that just because music becomes more palatable to the ear does not necessarily mean a loss of heaviness or indicate signs of sell-outage. Quite the contrary.
The first two things that stood out at me about this album from it's predecessors made it single-handedly my favorite Lamb of God album and the album that got me into the band: top-notch production and a considerably more refined vocal style. Unlike on the previous albums, which features a somewhat muddied, soft, and "tinny" production, this album is possibly one of the best-produced metal albums this side of prog. metal. Everything is mixed extremely well with the dry, crunchy guitars being hammered in place by the distinctive ride cymbal bell and snare and bass drums. As well, on this record, Randy Blythe really shows evolution as an actual singer. Rather than using an exclusively unintelligible banshee squeal as on the prior works, Bltyhe opts for a more discernable, raspy singing approach. Some of the old shrieks, growls, and screams make cameos, but they now act more effectively as accents.
And the music? Fuck, this album never lets up with the infectious, dry, palm-muted riffs of guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton. There's little else that can be said other than the riffage on this record never lets up. You can't help but bang your head to the "chunk-chunk-chunk" on basically every track. However, while the riffing makes every song extremely solid and consistent, it also does little to distinguish one song from the other. Added to the fact that conventional leads and guitar solos are few and far between, this proves to be Ashes's weakness as well as its strength. Sure, their are standout tracks like "Laid to Rest", "Omerta" (both of which have spoken-verse intros), and "The Faded Line", it sometimes becomes difficult to really remember certain songs. Don't get me wrong; the guitarists of Lamb of God are extremely talented and, like the rest of the band, extremely tight. However, this album would've received an 100% on musicianship if their was a bit more lead-work.
Most of the time, I find metal drummers to be more or less the same. They're all pretty much "competent" musicians, but few stand out from the pack to me to the point where I really appreciate their work (Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater comes to mind). Chris Adler is one of those drummers I was talking about - much more than just "competent" and actually creative. His work on Ashes (and previous albums) is superb. Yes, the man uses and incredible amount of double bass, but to good effect. Instead of doing the traditional death/thrash patterns or hardcore breakdowns, Adler goes out of his way to mix up the bass drum patterns, adding syncopation and weaving in and around the guitars. At no point is the drumming overbearing - blast beats being an extremely rare occurrence. Chris' playing is incredibly smooth and tight; almost machine-like. If the riffs are like a sheet of metal, Chris' drumming is the nails that hammer it down.
Is this album innovative? No, not particularly. Is this album enjoyable and heavy-as-fuck? Oh yes. The band is extremely tight and remains an extreme metal band, but have taken huge strides in making their music both heavy and catchy at the same time. There are few albums that I can listen to over and over again from start to finish without skipping a track. Can I remember many of the tracks from the rest? No, not especially. Is every track consistent and solid? Most definitely. Ashes of the Wake is an incredibly catchy hybrid of groove and thrashyness. Highly recommended.
There are a few things going on about Ashes of the Wake:
Epic Records released a DualDisc, with the album on one and the DVD with better sound quality and extra songs on the other side. Some Ashes of the Wake albums include a bonus CD with songs from other albums, and there are two versions available of Ashes of the Wake, one clean, one explicit. So you have identical named songs on identical named albums, but they sound different from each other.
I haven’t heard many bands using riffs as chords, and I can’t recall the last time I heard someone play riffs at the speed L.O.G can play. Melody’s are unnecessary, the only thing the guitar players need are the riffs. In that way, they’re very original. And they’re predictable. If you hear a riff once, you can sing it along with the music, but it isn’t nuisant. The riffs are incredibly well-thought and very good played. The fact that they’re predictable, doesn’t spoil the fun of listening to it.
The songs are well-composed, using small and tiny techniques that make a song very good, but that are not so much heard in other bands/songs. The guitar duals are really good, and the voice of Randall Blythe fits in very well.
The production is well-balanced. You can hear all the instruments clearly, and the riffs have a good volume. The clean version of the CD has a slight distortion, so that it sounds a bit raw, but still clear. The explicit version differs very much as the distortion is much more present. But it still sounds good. Both of the versions don’t have that pushing: they create a bit of a gap between you and the music.
The songs are all on-beat. You never have the feeling that the music is slowing down a bit on a difficult riff, or that the music starts too soon after a break, or too late. Lamb of God doesn’t play acoustical parts or parts that meant to be sad or something, on the contrary, the songs all sound aggressive and mean. It definitely fits with the riffs and vocals and stuff.
Just like every album: this album also has some songs/parts that deserve a note:
- Hourglass sounds different from the other songs on the album. The alternations are quicker, there are more parts in the song, and they all differ from each other a bit to much. This song definitely needs a while to get used to, but it is acceptable.
- Laid to Rest is a very good opener for the album. This song sounds just meaner than every other song on the album. The riff at the middle of the song is truly fantastic.
- Now You’ve Got Something To Die For has a beautiful intro.
- The solo’s of One Gun are good
- The song Ashes of the Wake has a very good intro, and besides some speeches of Blythe, the song’s instrumental.
- Remorse is for the Dead also has a beautiful opening riff.
If you run across this album: buy it! And if you want the best version, I suggest you’d buy the explicit version (if you can find one, there’s no difference in the cover artwork as far as I know). This is a very good album for the ultimate party moments of your life, headbanging’s guaranteed! The album sounds very, very good. It’s a must have for every riff-fanatic, every explicit-production-fanatic, and everyone who loves mean and aggressive songs.
Lamb of God have set the bar pretty high for themselves upon the expectations for this release. They had to prove that they were not selling out despite being signed to a major label. I must commend them on the fact that they did not mess around with their sound so much as to alienate fans, however, this is not their best release.
The production is amazing and it is clear on this record that the band is tighter than ever before and are playing more technical songs than they ever have. Many tracks have very weird and interesting note selections as far as the guitar is concerned. The vocals are absolutely amazing. This is Randy`s best studio performance by a longshot. The drums as usual are technical yet match the guitar work perfectly. What makes this album a little less exciting is the lack of variety within the tracks.
This album kicks off with some of the band's best material. The first five tracks are amazing.''Laid to Rest'' kicks things off with a bang. Some very cool and strange riffs are accompanied by some fancy drum work courtesy of Chris Adler. '' Hourglass'' is to me the best track on the record. This song has nice tempo variations, very interesting riffs and vocal patterns.''Now You've Got Something to Die For'', ''The Faded Line'' and ''Omerta'' all have their share of moments and would be considered classics by now.
However there is a batch of forgettable tunes on this release. ''Blood of the Scribe'',''One Gun'' and ''Break You'' are not bad songs at all, they just don't match the power and the energy of the first four or five tracks.
However, as on ASTP, the album closer is well worth the wait.''Remorse is for the Dead'' starts off kind of like ''Vigil'' from the previous record did, with a clean intro until all hell breaks loose and you're caught in a flurry of violent riffs, intense drumming and powerful vocals. The lyrics are also quite good as they deal with a steady amount of violence and describe a hate filled situation of having to destroy your enemy.
This is not a bad album at all, if you want a straight up dose of heavy riffs with a good backbone and energy, I would recomment this to you. However this is little to nothing experimental or risky here, just a slab of modern day American metal.
That is all this album is. 1 song, 11 different titles.
I was intrigued about all the hype about this. People were calling this fast, heavy as hell, and incredibly technical. Unfortunately, when I gave this a listen, I found that this album really isn't any of those. Sure, songs are heavy and moderately fast, but technical? Not at all. These guys can palm mute, and they do it for the entire duration of the album.
The album kicks off promisingly. In the beginning I was rather impressed with their unique style of playing. Unfortunately, the album went on, and every song sounded identical to the last. Each one was chugging and screaming with no soloing and really no means of variation. The title track is one of the only songs with soloing, and consequently is really the only one that sticks out. All the other songs are a few minutes of the lame "chugga-chugga" riffing that we've heard from the five songs before it. It's obvious that these guys have musical talent. Their drummer sounded good, and the guitar was sweet when they decided to actually do something. Unfortunately, they chose not to use it, and opted to stay with one set formula throughout the entire album.
I have no problem with the genre debate over them. These guys are metal, plain and simple, nothing -core about them. What kills me is that this is what is becoming popular in the metal scene. People who don't know much about metal will here this before anything decent and assume that this is what metal is. I must say this frightens me. Metal has so many variations and opportunities it's incredible. Why these guys chose to replicate one song and dub it an album is beyond me. Had they crafted 11 completely different songs, I think I would like this. The first song I hear I like it, the second I like it even more, but by the third I'm just waiting for something new. Unfortunately, it doesn't deliver.
Ah, after “As the Palaces Burn” by Lamb of God, comes Ashes of the Wake. I’ve always been a fan of LOG since I first bought one of their albums, so I was really eager to check this one out. I’m slightly surprised, not as happy as I expected, but I am also really impressed. This is pretty much similar to the shit on ATPB, but in a way, a lot better.
First, the production is fucking awesome, same guitar and drum sounds as on their previous album. Vocals are fully audible, and do not block out the other instruments. Now onto the music...
One thing is for sure on this CD, all the members have improved a decent amount on what they play, especially Randy (vocalist). On “New American Gospel”, their first CD using their new name Lamb of God, the vocals were very high pitched and leaned a lot more towards hardcore-type style, and at times were low. Those vocals were awesome, but he changed on ATPB, using mostly the semi-guttural ones, and very rarely went high pitched. But on this album, he shines. It’s amazing how much better he got. His low sounds pretty much the same, but there is incredible variation. He screams high pitched a lot, and is very good at it. There are also extended growls that go from low to high, and sound really fucking angry. Vocals are a huge up to AOTW.
Guitars are like they’ve always been-fast, angry, and all over the place. But one thing I like more on this than on ATPB is that the tunes are a lot catchier, and you can really headbang. The riffs even get just a little bit technical at some point in “Hourglass”, which by the way is one of the best on the album. Also, LOG was never really into soloing, and there are around 2 or 3 on ATPB the last time I checked. But there are a bit more solos here and there, and there’s even an instrumental with some dialogue. So the guitar work is catchy and kick ass.
Drumming...Chris Adler did a great job on NAG and ATPB, and is once again awesome, with a lot of double bass, and no blast beats :P (though I love blast beats).
So basically, “Ashes of the Wake” is pretty much an extension of ATPB, but just a lot better in my opinion. They get a 93 for making a decently successful album. Though I would like some variation in their next. If you’re a Lamb of God fan, you should definitely buy this...or download it illegally...And by the way, their single “Laid to Rest” is fucking bullshit compared to the rest of the CD, so don’t judge them by their singles.
I'm a big Lamb of God fan I guess, so I'll be the first to say that this album is good, but dissapointing. It seems they've taken the winning formula from their last album, and simply ran with it for another album with slight changes, but no significant improvements.
We've still got the face-kicking riffs with technical precision, but somehow the second time I'm hearing this sound doesn't impress as much as the first. I'm still hearing great drumwork from Chris Adler, but his role seems more that of an accompanying rythm instrument than that of a seperate instrument with his own soundniche. It's still top-notch, and there are hidden drum-noodles, but you got to search for the treats. Randy Blythe still screeches like a motherfucker, and is even MORE intelligible this time around, but he's not the Christopher Walken-esque essence of barely held back physical violence like on the last album.
There's some amazing music on this disc, as for example Hourglass. Old fashionedly good, it starts off very familiar, too familiar, but then after the one and a half minute mark it really kicks off, and builds into a beast of a metal track with instruments layered over eachother so that they enforce eachother untill it explodes into an orgasm of metalness at the end of it.
Then again, by contrast, 'Now You've Got Something To Die For' seems a bit too formulaic for Lamb of God, a bit too anthemic even. And when I say formulaic for Lamb of God, I mean it's pretty amazing music, but I've heard it done before. So the whole album leaves me a bit ambivalent. Nice that I've got more material to feed my LoG fetish, but there's a bit of diminishing returns at work here. It also seems slightly simpler, but that could just be the familiarity kicking in.
One new element that had me wondering though, was the spoken intro to Omerta about Honor, revealing that this band playing 'American Metal' still has a link to hardcore. But that's just a dumb comment to close this review with.
Deciding that Cradle of Filth was a bit too much for them, Sony have gone and snapped up Virginia’s Lamb of God for their major label debut ‘Ashes of the Wake’. For most of us, the dreaded ‘metal band meets major label’ vibes were instantly apparent once we digested the stunning move that LOG have now made. Metal fans are mighty distrusting of the majors, and any move towards the corporate sector usually means ‘sellout commercialism’ and ‘wannabe rock-stardom’.
Fortunately, the powers that be at Sony have been wise enough to leave LOG to their own devices. Nope, there’s not a whiff of radio friendly ‘hits’ on this disc. Aside from a slightly more polished production (which is an improvement), the rest of AOTW sounds like your regular LOG album. In fact, I’d even say the band has become a tad heavier. The only other thing Sony represents for LOG is mass distribution and worldwide media promotion that is guaranteed to have LOG become a household name…well, in the metal world at least.
AOTW is a rather quick follow up to the excellent ‘As the Palace Burns’ of 2003. No doubt the major label backing and Ozzfest dates have motivated the band to capitalise on the astonishing momentum that they are currently enjoying. As such, it sounds a little rushed in parts with a tad over-repetitiveness creeping into their song writing. However, it is hard to ignore the absolutely stunning musicianship that is laid down here – those intricate riff passages wield a slightly Meshuggah meets Megadeth technicality, whilst the breakdowns and mammoth grooves employed on ‘Palace..’ have become even more pronounced.
Stylistically, most of what LOG does borrows from some long time metal favorites – namely Pantera and Slayer. Knowing this, the modern metal meets thrash vibe isn’t that original. And considering the impression that their debut ‘American Gospel’ and ‘Palace’ made on the entire American metal scene (including the Metalcore fraternity) – in that everyone else made a transitional shift in that direction – we could say that ‘Ashes’ doesn’t sound as fresh either. Where they had a certain individuality with their first two discs, LOG now tend to blend in with the crowd. Still, ‘Ashes’ is a powerful, unrelenting statement and filled with lots of intense and menacing rhythms that they are so synonymous with. Only the fickle (such as me) would complain about LOG supposed lack of variation in ideas.
There are some who think Randy Blythe’s one-dimensional vocals are a major ‘negative’ for LOG. I tend to disagree, and while I wouldn’t mind a little variation – there is no way a move toward a ‘clean-vocal’ sing-a-long chorus is going to happen with this band. That WOULD be their death knell. I’m pleased that Randy continues to bellow and rage with forceful passion and conviction. If you’re an angry man, you should sound like it. And Randy’s angry!!
‘AOTW’ is going to cause much discussion in the months to come. Hell, it’s already been hailed as a classic by some and derided by others for it’s apparent ‘safeness’. I tend to sit somewhere in the middle (weak bastard I know) – there is no doubt that this is a highly enjoyable ride and it slays 90% of the competition outright - It packs a mighty wallop. However, as leaders of a sound and style, LOG are going to have to branch out on the next album if they wish to stay ahead of the rapidly closing pack.
Lamb of God's third, and latest release on their new label, Epic records...a subsidiary of Sony Music. First, a bit of history on Lamb of God...they toured extensively for their first album, New American Gospel, and gained quite a bit of following among their fellow American fans.
Before their sophomore effort, As the Palaces Burn, (produced by Devin Townsend of Steve Vai/Strapping Young Lad/Ocean Machine/billion other self-started bands fame) Lamb of God began touring more and more with hard/metal-core scenester bands. On the second album, there were a good deal more breakdowns and easily forgotten bridges which were most likely influenced by their environmental conditioning on tour.
Third time around, after leaving Prosthetic Records, gaining a new producer(nicknamed Machine) for this album, they change their engineered sound once again. Guitar tones remain very similar to the second album, bass gets a higher priority, more clarity. Likewise with the drum mix, bass kick sound receives a huge low end boost and the snare has less of the trademark resonant ring pop from the first album. Cymbals are heavily edited in the mix this time around. This is for the better, since, Chris Adler, while having some of the most impressive double kick control around...relies a great deal on riding the same crash. All in all, this album has a better mix than the last, however, no song really stands out as a huge winner. Don't get me wrong, there are some nice songs, and I'll get to that part.
In a nutshell, this album has better riffage, better drum mix, (not necessarily better than previous albums) and much better bass clarity. When it comes to the core stuff, eh...similar amount of palm muting + riding the china cymbal breakdowns, as what was seen in the prior two albums. Breakdown shit is basically for fan service at the shows. When it comes to fan service, they still can't beat their first single, "Black Label," regardless of them using it as a catalyst for the "wall of death," ever since New England Metalfest 2003.
Now for a track rundown:
01. Laid to Rest - 08/10
- Starts off with a guitar slide, bass palm mute, and double kick gallop+snare+crash, then another crash, but hand muted right away. Guitar riff played in right channel, then a single bass kick+crash as bass and second guitar come in on both channels now. Cue drum roll to crash and hand mute. After this little intro, verse comes in with crunchy riffs/double bass accented with snare hits on the harmonic pinches.
Cue a little tulilu for Mark Morton while Chris Adler starts up the steady double bass and seems to be riding a small splash with an extremely bright wash sound to it(almost like a splash chime). Also cue spoken word from Randy, which is very "to each their own." On this song, it somewhat works with the instrumental ambience backing his voice. However, the spoken word intro for track 5, Omerta, ...terrible. I'll get to that later.
Chorus isn't that great, however, I do like how Chris Adler uses all 4 crashes in a row, rinse and repeat, throughout the chorus so that they each resonate fully on their own until he mutes two at the end.
End of the song has some mixed in bottomed-out bass just because they can. It's not as bad as it sounds, but it just seems very gimmicky.
02. Hourglass - 07/10
- 21 Seconds has the bottomed-out bass hit again ala the end of Laid to Rest to start off the song, 1:03-1:23 is probably the best part of this song. After that, it pretty much slugs along, I could go into more technical detail, but the song's not forgettable, but mediocre.
03. Now You've Got Something to Die For - 03/10
- Fan service sing-along chorus. Turn off the mic. Forgettable song.
04. The Faded Line - 09/10
- Very similar to "11th hour," track 4 on "As Palaces Burn." Breakdown at 1:48 is actually good, even though I despise the greater majority of them. Lasts almost 35 seconds until 2:22. Like the end of many Lamb of God songs, pace drastically slows down into a groove.
05. Omerta - 03/10
- Worst. Spoken. Word. Intro. Ever.
Doesn't help that Randy has a minor lisp to his speech and there is no ambient sound behind his voice to mask it. Mic also mixed terribly. Listening to this spoken word on monitor headphones through a 24-bit digital receiver and the vox is totally fucked up. Slow song that drudges along with no balls to it. Next.
06. Blood of the Scribe - 07/10
- Thrash off the bat. Song turns into "For Your Malice," Track 5 of the previous album, at 1:36, until the end. "For Your Malice" was a good song, and so this is also good; but I like the old one better. It's consistent from start to finish.
07. One Gun - 07/10
- 10 seconds has the massive bass again. Solid song, above average. 2:50-3:00 cues massive editing of the snare and bass kick, huge resonance which you will hear more of starting at 3:20 until the end of the song, 3:59. Like I said, gimmicky, but it works.
08. Break You - 05/10
- Forgettable, save a few decent tom rolls.
09. What I've Become - 09/10
- Starts off thrash. Snare sounds mixed differently now, with the older, ringier sound. Turns into a groove. Goes generic metal towards the end. Song is done very well, perhaps one of the best songs on the CD.
10. Ashes of the Wake - 06/10
- Mark and Willie song. All guitar. Cue tulilu from Chris Poland(Megadeth, hope you knew this). American soldier with Iraq commentary strewn without. Theme: no line between good and evil, just chaotic rule.
11. Remorse Is for the Dead - 05/10
- The first two Lamb of God albums ended the CD with a pretty fucking epic song with some high BPM double bass and fast thrash. This...is just disappointing. Either the production was rushed to release this album or something, because this is no way to end an album. Voice editing at the end of the song to finish off the album is just sad. Lamb of God used to end albums with the best they had.
Average: 6.9/10 -> 70
So far, I'm surprised that there hasn't been any reviews really praising this album. Well, I'm definitely confident enough to rate this album highly. "As the Palaces Burn" is a great album, but I find "Ashes of the wake" to be much more superior sound wise, lyric wise, and over all brutality wise.
First of all, the production on this album (done by Machine) is awesome. I can hear every word Randy is saying (no joke - every word), which is something I can't say about "Palaces". I can also hear the drums a lot better. In "Palaces" I can barely make out the cymbals in the mix, and the drums sound pretty bland. But in "Ashes" the drums sound real in-your-face, and you can hear every little splash, crash, and ping in the cymbals quite clearly... The guitars sound a lot cleaner as well, while still maintaining that heavy crushing sound. I know there are many that are a fan of the real raw sound, but I really prefer to hear every note and instrument, and understand the lyrics...
Which brings me to my next point: the lyrics. Man, these guys have got a lot to say. These lyrics are some of the most powerful, well thought out, and cryptic messages which I have ever heard. Right from the opening line "There's blood on the wall, so you'd might as well just forget it!" I knew this album was going to fuckin blow many of my other CD's out of the water lyric wise. I won't get into the themes here, you'll have to read for yourself.
This album is just fuckin brutal. The riffs are heavy as shit, and very well written. Lamb of God is just a straight up, no bullshit, metal band. Period. I haven't taken it out of my CD player since I bought it... hell, I'm listening to it now, which is probably my 20th straight listen in a row. I really have no complaints. The artwork is just incredible... Actually, the only complaint i have is the "Parental Advisory" sticker on the front. What the fuck is up with that? There is nothing "explicit" about this album IMO. Well... maybe to some momma's boy who can't handle the graphic artwork and the powerful lyrics. Other than that, I highly recommend this album. "As the Palaces Burn" is great, but this CD is far superior. I really hope these guys don't sell-out at any time... As long as they keep pumping out albums like this, I'll keep buyin.
To say that I was hoping this would be a good album is an understatement.
With their first two albums, 'New American Gospel' and the Devin Townsend produced 'As The Palaces Burn', I'd long come to the conclusion that while Lamb Of God's sound, whilst nothing mind-blowing or strictly original, was exactly that - their own sound, which no other metalcore that I knew of was making at the time... plus they sounded heavy as fuck, with the debut album even sounding intricate on a technical level.
Aside from the rather bizarre step of going from having producers with such high reknown as Steve 'Today Is The Day' Austin and Devin Townsend working on their albums, to someone who's name both escapes me and strikes no core of recognition anyway; Lamb Of God have opted for the rather pathetic step of trying to carry on the sound they had going on their previous album, that far from sounding relatively new just makes the album feel stoic and bland, which coupled with the fact that the other parts of the album sound like mediocre Killswitch Engage-tributes makes for a foreboding outcome on the acclaim of this album.
I won't go as far as saying this is strictly a "BAD" album, it's just nothing compared to the bands previous material. Also you have to take into account the awe that 'New American Gospel', in particular the track 'Black Label', struck into me when I first heard it, as well as the sense of progression you got when you first heard their next album.
As much as I lament to say it, Lamb Of God's songs on 'Ashes Of The Wake' blur into one more or less totally monotone and dare I say it, formulaeic brand of bland metalcore that quite frankly doesn't really cut the mustard anymore.
The band CAN do better, of that I'm not really in doubt, it's just whether they choose to stop kissing up aurally to Killswitch Engage & Shadows Fall long enough to realise that on their day they can be far superior to either band.