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Above Average Effort - 70%

Grep, September 23rd, 2004

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