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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.”