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After the somewhat experimental, uneven Sacrament and phoned-in blandness of Wrath, Lamb of God return with a vengeance on Resolution. Listening to this is like erasing the past 8 years and picking up right where the excellent Ashes of the Wake left off.
From the first dirty, southern guitar chords to the Randy’s shriek, I am back in high school again. The production is crystal clear, but not washed out. “Walk with Me in Hell,” though a great song, sounded like it was recorded in a tin can, and Wrath in general was so compressed it felt like a SNES soundtrack. This is a return to the riff machine that made these guys top dogs to begin with. The guitar-work is fast, tight, and just plain fun. If you were one of the people who went racing for tabs after hearing “Laid to Rest” the first time, this is the album for you. There are too many moments to name, but the intro transition on “Ghost Walking,” and the relentless "Terminally Unique" stick out in my mind at the moment.
Back on Randy: he hasn’t sounded this monstrous in a long time. He had virtually discarded the remnants of his death metal roots on “Sacrament,” but here they return to a point. He still has that Anselmo-esque inflection he added, but the high pitched shrieks and crunching lows are back to add variety and hopefully scare away some of the core kids. The lyrics, if a bit contrived, get me going. I think the best example of the guitars, vocal delivery, and lyrics combining to just make you murderous is “Visitation.” “My blood is boiling! I can't feel my own skin!” Yeah, it’s go time.
As far as innovation goes, there are a few successful experiments here that still manage to fit nicely into the overall aesthetic. “Insurrection” has some clean singing on it that holds up okay. It’s nothing special, but the track itself turns out to be quite good. “Barbarosa” is a cool, very sad, Southern-sounding instrumental. Most notably, "King Me" incorporates strings. I was skeptical about how this would fit, but it manages to make this a truly epic closer to the album. The best way I can describe it is to take the riff from “Walk with Me in Hell,” slow it down, build the volume and intensity in the drums and vocals, turn it into another thrash-fest, then break just a moment before returning to the main hook, but this time on a full string arrangement. There are also some choir vocals to add to the ambience. Some may hate on this track, I think it’s spectacular.
I have only one minor gripe with this album. “Invictus” and “Cheated” don’t hold up quite as well as the other tracks. I didn’t find myself wanting to hit skip, but they felt more like outtakes to me. With this album being their longest (14 tracks at just under an hour), I feel cutting these two might have brought the length down to something a bit more open to regular repeat listening. That being said, I never found myself feeling bored over the course of play.
That pretty much does it. There are very few bands that rose up during my younger days that I would still recommend new albums for, but this one succeeds. With Randy writing the next album from prison, I am interested to see how it turns out.
"This is the resolution / The end of all progress"
So speaketh Randall Blythe, nine years prior to the release of 2012's Resolution. I note this because not only is that one of the better moments of one of the better songs ("Ruin") on that particular album (As the Palaces Burn), but it also wound up being hauntingly prophetic. I understand that not every band can be Sigh, not everybody can reinvent themselves with every album, but I also understand that not every band can be Vader either, and just pump out album after album with almost no deviation from their set formula or experimentation apart from the odd foible once per album. Lamb of God churned out six eh-to-good albums if you include the album released under their old name, Burn the Priest. Each of these albums was distinct from one another, and showed the band continually growing and learning and branching out and solidifying the sound they'd become so infamous for. Burn the Priest was raw and primal, a very rough outing from a young, hungry band, New American Gospel was dirtier, and one of the most genuine albums that the metalcore genre had ever given us, with the visceral frustration shining through with a tragic, one-of-a-kind vocal performance, As the Palaces Burn saw the band present a more song oriented album, Ashes of the Wake saw the technicality bumped up a massive amount and the sound cleaned up considerably from the intentionally harsh and sloppy production of the early albums, Sacrament marked the point where the band almost entirely dropped the concept of breakdowns and instead focused on more melodic lines and straightforward Pantera-esque groove, and lastly Wrath presented us with a renewed youth, as it was the angriest and harshest effort the band produced in nearly ten years, with Blythe's deteriorating voice showcasing more high screams and semi-clean yells.
That was a long history lesson that you didn't care about, I get that, but the point of that was to illustrate that, despite how much shit the band gets among the underground metal community, I can still point out how they had grown and evolved from each album to the next. Resolution marks "the end of all progress" for Lamb of God. This is the first album where I can honestly say that it sounds like they're out of ideas. They've had the same five members since the name change, quite an admirable feat, but I can't help but feel like they've stopped pooling their different ideas from different tastes and backgrounds when it comes time to write the songs, and instead just decided "yeah this is what we sound like, let's just do that again, we can't tour in support of Wrath forever". And so they trudged their way into the studio, with a handful of songs each member had written (since songwriting isn't as much of a collaborative effort with the band as it is just each dude writes a few songs and that's it), and in a stunning display of professionalism, decided not to cull it down to the choicest cuts and instead just recorded all four-fucking-teen of them.
Yeah, despite "only" being 50 minutes long, Resolution is a marathon listen if only by virtue of the fact that there are so many songs with so few ideas between them that you have to sit through. From the painfully dull attempt at sounding doomy with "Straight for the Sun" to the painfully dull attempt at sounding epic with "King Me", everything about this album is painfully dull. I know I just harped on how safe and predictable this album is and then used "doomy" and "epic" to try to describe the bookends of the album, but trust me everything else in between is a dull attempt at sounding like themselves. The Pantera influence that became their primary outside source of inspiration around 2006 smacks you in the pie hole harder than ever here, except with Pantera's Southern edge, we're treated to the signature Lamb of God scale. I know fuck all about theory so I can't tell you what mode it's in or what scale they rape all the time, but if you've ever heard a Lamb of God song before, you know what that particular sound is. "The Undertow" here is based on a riff that I could swear was featured on at least three different songs on Ashes of the Wake.
The saddest part about that is that "The Undertow" is one of the better songs off the album. Lamb of God has always kind of been a "hit single" type band, with each album having a few obvious standouts that become singles and live staples, while the rest of the album will feel rushed and partially uninspired. I like every previous release by the band, and I can still acknowledge this obvious problem in their career. Resolution is no exception, it's front loaded with all of the good songs ("Desolation", "Guilty", and "The Undertow") in the first third while the rest of the album is left to flop around helplessly like a fish out of water as it tries desperately to repeat the past success they once so easily reaped. "The Number Six" and "Insurrection" mess around with these awful nu-metally passages that had absolutely no chance of succeeding within the confines of the songs, so those stand out in a negative way, as does literally every other song I haven't already mentioned by name. The first time I heard the advance single, "Ghost Walking", I immediately declared the album dead on arrival, as I knew the band had a knack for promoting their best songs, and if this was the best their longest album to date had to offer, I knew for sure it wouldn't be worth an established fan's time. That song alone is indicative of almost the entire album. Chris Adler (the one member of the band that even detractors can usually freely admit is stellar) just baps away at his drumset with almost no creativity, no interesting fills or patters, he just goes through the motions along with the riffs, which are also completely phoned in groove metal riffsets taken straight off the shelf. "Invictus", "Cheated", "Visitation", "To the End", all of these songs can be described exactly the same way. It's the sound of a band getting older and more robotic and just going through the motions. There's almost no fire left anymore.
The key word in there is "almost", as those three good songs I mentioned are all fiery as hell and rock like nobody's business. "Desolation" is easily the choicest cut on the album, being strongly reminiscent of the band's most tragically underappreciated track, "Beating on Death's Door". It's a fast paced, semi-thrashy track that takes the element of groove and speeds it up far faster than it should logically be grooving. "Guilty" and "The Undertow" are more in line with their heavy grooves and catchiness being blended with exhilarating intensity and a blistering drum performance. Lamb of God has always been known for their simplistic straightforwardness (as misleading as that is, really), but I felt the band was always at their best when kicking up the tempo past the easily digestible mark. I love "Laid to Rest" and "Hourglass" as much as any other fan should, but there's an inimitable charm to their over-the-top fast songs like "Forgotten", "Purified" or of course, "Beating on Death's Door". These three songs fit into that category of the specific substyle of LoG song that I adore so much, and for that reason alone, Resolution isn't a complete embarrassment.
But it's pretty close to complete. It's clear to me and to many others that the band was pretty much sapped at this point, just phoning in a new album to give them an excuse to hit the road again. Perhaps the recent arrest of Randy Blythe could spark a new flame within the band to reignite their passion that Resolution so blatantly lacks. As it stands, this could be either the death knell for their career or the unfortunate stinker in their discography. I'd prefer it to be the latter, but with the constant in-fighting and tension within the band (each new album since 2006 has been coupled with me proclaiming my surprise that they managed to not break up yet) I suspect that Lamb of God's reign on mainstream metal may soon be coming to a close. Easily skippable, if not for "Desolation" at the very least.
Originally written for http://lairofthebastard.blogspot.com/
Metal legends Lamb of God are presently facing a potential roadblock in their thirteen year career (not counting having formed under the name Burn the Priest in 1994). Randy Blythe (vocalist) is currently facing charges of manslaughter in the Czech Republic and has been detained, leading to the cancellation of many tour dates. Earlier this year the group released their sixth full-length album Resolution and have been touring to promote the record ever since. More importantly, Resolution marks the first album Lamb of God have released under the label of Roadrunner Records.
Lamb of God have begun to expand their horizons in this latest semi-experimental effort. When faced head on with the content from Resolution, "Straight for the Sun" opens the album with a hefty air inhalation before Randy Blythe's signature scream coats an onslaught of slow sludge riffs accompanied by a devastatingly heavy bass line. This track ends with a skillful drum solo by Chris Adler, who never fails to impress with dexterous drum rolls. This flawlessly leads into the next track, "Desolation", which is full of upbeat, twangy groove riffs that start to heat things up.
Layering for the two guitars, drums, and bass is all done exceptionally well. John Campbell's bass line is heard clearly throughout the content, which is important for any groove styled band, and in some tracks there are cut away sections to reveal that deep underlying bass rhythm. Despite how well mixed the instrument elements are, at times the vocals completely override everything and even at some points consume everything else. This can be heard most prominently on the single from this album, "Ghost Walking", although the track itself opens up with an ear catching acoustic segment.
The body of Resolution is what any fan of Lamb of God would be expecting to hear: zesty fast-paced picked guitars that transparently overlay each other, combining the efforts of both guitarists present who have an undoubtable knack for playing off one another. Pounding drums that nearly offset ones own heartbeat as the patterns change distinctly and without warning. Crushing, crunchy bass grooves that tie it all together with a layer of angry, passionate vocals to top it all off.
In spite of the normal traits and features that accompanies any Lamb of God release, there is an experimental side to the content. "Straight for the Sun", "Ghost Walking", "Barbarosa", and "King Me" all have new elements to present to the listener. "Barbarosa" is the only instrumental track on Resolution and is comprised of an acoustic picked guitar in the front of the mix with some electric guitars coming and going out of either speaker, often creating a loud screeching muffled feedback. The components suddenly rush together at the end of the track, meshing and creating somewhat of a bang before "Invictus" explodes through the speakers.
"King Me" is the six and a half minute epic that ends this album, and shows off some new ingredients to the mix including violin synths and operatic woman vocals that trail ghost-like throughout the background, empowering Randy's spoken words throughout the song. There is also a uniquely achieved effect gained by using abrupt stops and rests throughout the fast part of this track.
Resolution is your typical Lamb of God release, though it shows potential and there is nothing particularly bad about it (besides the vocals being mixed way too loud) it is lacking in innovation and progression. Though there is an experimental effort that is clearly voiced, of the fourteen tracks given the experimental efforts are only scattered throughout a handful of songs. "Straight for the Sun", "King Me", "The Number Six", "Desolation" and "Insurrection" all prove to be the most stand-out songs listed. Fans and new listeners alike will find this latest endeavor worthwhile and enjoyable, but expect the majority of the content to have some of the same recycled patterns and riffs happening.
- Villi Thorne
Lamb of God is back with a new studio album after a huge tour in support of their previous album “Wrath”. Whereas the previous album was rather rough sounding with some thrashy edges, this new album sees Lamb of God returning to the sound that made them well known in the first place. On this new release you'll find tracks that will surely remind you of “As The Palaces Burn”, “Ashes of the Wake”, and “Sacrament”. Nevertheless, 2012's “Resolution” also sees the Richmond-based metal formation explore new territories of heavy music.
Let's start of with the experimental edge of Resolution. Probably one of the best examples of Lamb of God's experimentation is unleashed upon us as soon as we start listening to this cd. The first track starts off with frontman Randy Blythe taking a deep breath and unleashing his roaring voice over an extremely filthy, slow sludge riff, which is something we are not very used to from Lamb of God. Of course, they've had slow-paced songs in the past (such as 2003's “Vigil” and 2004's “Omerta”), but none of these tracks were as sludge-like as album opener “Straight for the Sun”, which is almost good enough to be compared with sludge titans such as Crowbar and Eyehategod. I was blown away by this extremely heavy opening track since I love it when a band successfully tries something different.
Other experiments include Randy's clean vocals on “Insurrection”. As far as I know this is the very first time that Randy Blythe did a clean and melodic kind of vocal for a Lamb of God track. He does this very accurate and the double-tracked vocals (a deep voice and a higher cleaner voice) are mixed very well, which is of course a compliment to producer Josh Wilbur. Besides these two examples, there's also the epic and ambient “King Me” and silent/heavy contrasting “The Number Six”. These kinds of tracks might surprise the average Lamb of God fan.
Overall, Resolution sees the groove metal band return to its signature sound. Typical riffs such as the chorus riff of “Ghost Walking” shows much similarity to Sacrament's “Redneck”. “The Undertow” must remind you of “As The Palaces Burn”-like songwriting. It pleases me to realize that this band actually has a signature sound that made them what they are and I believe they should be given the space to showcase their sound. Unoriginality wouldn't be the right term to describe this for they are just doing what they're good at.
The album is well-produced. It sounds much more solid than Wrath, but thankfully not as overproduced as Sacrament did. Drums sound solid as usual. Of course the bass drums are triggered as usual. I'm sure a lot of people will have complaints about the fact Chris Adler uses this, but I personally think it fits Lamb of God's polished sound. I don't believe it shows the laziness of the hairy drummer. Sometimes I get the feeling the vocals are a bit low on volume in the mix. Besides these kind of minor details, the album sounds rock solid.
Lyric-wise, I am always very impressed by Randy and I was once again not disappointed by the words written by this noisy frontman. The Bible references and political edges to his lyrics have always been great in my opinion, and you shall find his signature kind of lyrics once again on Resolution. The track “Invictus” is lyrically my favorite so far.
To wrap it up, this album is just kickass. Though I think it won't be a classic like Ashes Of The Wake, it sure as hell is a great addition to Lamb of God's discography. Fans of the Virginian band who are in for some experiments and also love the traditional LoG-sound will surely get what they wished for. I was impressed by this record. Lamb of God remains the same old great band and at the same time they try things they've not played or recorded before and do it with great style. No doubt that this release will end up in a lot of top-metal-album-lists at the end of the year!
Now probably many people would say for this album that it's the "same old" and so on. Well, really they didn't change their sound much, nor did they change their style. They're not completely innovative, nor are they way-over-head-mind-blowing. They're simply a good solid band that does what they're best at and sticks to it "until the end".
As I was saying previously, the band didn't want to change their sound much, yet you still have a pretty good sound and atmospheric variations in each song from 1 to 12 (yes, not counting the "King Me" song since it's a total disappointment and the "Barbarosa" song), and the vocals are pretty much well worked over. What comes to everyone's surprise, and of course mine, is Randy's "clear" singing in the song "Insurrection". I don't know what the band and Randy thought they would achieve with this minor change in vocal style, but it's not completely and utterly bad, but still needs improvement though.
When it comes to sticking to what you're best at, Lamb of God really knows their stuff. The riffs are solid, classic "Morton & Willie" pinching, hammer-ons, and other stuff, varying from sludgey and slow to fast and somewhat insane. A good example of their classic work is the "To The End" song. Some would say Pantera-stolen, or some other stuff pretty much related to the "stealing Pantera's legacy" stuff, but I think it's bullshit. The song is well worked over in both rhythm and riffage, it's solid, stands it's ground, the atmosphere is good, the drumming is awesome, and vocals are pretty much standard, and even though it does remind of Pantera, and I say this for about thousandth time, it's not Pantera, nor will it ever be. That would be the same as saying that Metallica = Diamond Head, and that's also bullshit.
As far as drumming parts goes, we can clearly see that Chris improved his drumming abilities way more since the "Wrath" album. He works well with riffage and plays his own important part in the whole song creation process, so no complaints there. Bass lines are also pretty much solid, and Campbell seems like he has no real interest in improving his bass abilities to a complex level, but really, he doesn't have to. He's a solid bassist and keeps the bass gap filled.
Lyrics are pretty much standard anti-everything messages. The vocals though are a bit more better than on "Wrath" with minor...well, minor "errors in experimenting", but it can happen to anyone, because, let me remind you, they are still and only human and they're not supposed to be "perfect".
All in all, the album is pretty good, better than "Wrath" because it goes back to the "pre-Sacrament"-era a bit more, and I give it a solid 75%. Why 75%? Well for starters this album would get more praise if it weren't for 2 minor and 2 major things that bother me. Firstly, two minor things that bother me are: "Ghostwalking's" similarity to "Redneck" (from the "Sacrament" album), and some a bit unnecessary experimenting. Secondly, we have 2 major "mistakes" the band has made: the "Barbarosa" instrumental and "King Me", the closure song for the album. I don't know what the band was thinking when they recorded these two and what their purposes were, but the album could have gotten easily through with only 12 songs, or 13 if you count the newly-issued "Digital Sands" song.
So to close the review up, I recommend this album to all who like a good headbang, somewhat moshy songs, and all in all, good newly-bred music with a hook on late the '90's sound.
Your enjoyment of this record will be inversely proportional to your expectations of LoG doing something new and different.
LoG are in the awkward "fame" position where they are not held to greatness enough to get away with rehashing old formulas (like Slayer), but at the same time they don't have the reputation for odd innovations and unexpected twists to justify any 180s (like Mastodon). When you get to the top by creating a unique and brandable sound, you become hostage of the situation you've created and LoG are illustrating that perfectly for the third album in a row since they unleashed the close to perfection Ashes of the Wake.
Of course it's not like LoG aren't trying to introduce something alternative here and there. You have the sludgeriffic opening track, various acoustic guitar interludes, a couple of prominent bass lines from John Campbell and a completely out-of-the-blue closing track which I can only describe as symphonic metalcore. But it's the 11 tracks in between these left-fielders (I excluded the instrumental track Barbarosa) that are the backbone of this release and cause so much debate about LoG role on the metal scene.
And the other thing is the duration. You make your record close to an hour long only in two cases: either you feel that you have something very important and different to say and you simply must leave all of it in, or you are doing fan service and simply churn out 'more riffs for the same price'. Since there are no new themes or sounds for the majority of Resolution, I believe it is the latter and with that you get the idea, where LoG's priorities are.
At the end of the day you get same old: Chris Adler is magnificent behind drums, Mark Morton and Willie Adler are a dizzying guitar duet and Randy Blythe will rip out your eardrums. The only problem is - there are only so many times you can get your eardrums ripped before you lose sensitivity to it.
Originally posted on my reviews blog as heavymetalspotlight.blogspot.com/
I must admit, I don't listen to as much Lamb of God as I used to, but a new album by a band so well known is enough to draw upon the curiosity of all but those most committed to excommunicating metal's mainstream side, and in all honesty, I am not one of those people. If you count Burn the Priest, "Desolation" is the band's seventh studio album, and as many prophesied, is pretty much consistent, as the band have been for a couple of albums now.
As I see it, Lamb of God released "New American Gospel", which sounded like groove-metal in a washing machine, went down an interesting road on "As the Palaces Burn", then wrote "Ashes to the Wake" and have been doing albums roughly like that ever since. This album is no exception, and aside from the occasional vocal diversification, which began to rear it's head in "Wrath", the album is definitely similar enough to be placed in the "more of the same" category. Not, might I add, that this is necessarily a bad thing; You can criticise the sameness of their material if you like, but it's also true that they're good at doing what they do. Listening to the album, it seems that the songs are all quite solidly written and don't contain too much throw-away material, something which the band have always managed to an extent. As always, or, perhaps, even more than usual, the band have some monster choruses, which are memorable to the utmost degree, and is definitely something refreshing to listen to on my "Right, I'm going to listen to something today that's quite accessible" days.
Overall, the album seems faster than the band's quintessential material, with a stronger thrash influence than that which was minimally present in Wrath, albeit in this album a lot better done. In contrast with the earlier material, there seem to be relatively fewer moments which "jump out". I'd say that the songs are just as good in many respects, but seldom did an intro occur to which ensnared me to listen to the song above the others. Making up for this, in a way, the middle of the songs seem to have a lot more going on, and when the mundanity of the intros has passed, most of the songs are very solid. One of the fascinating things on the record is the presence of the occasional experiment, straight out of the left-field; Tracks like "King Me" with it's symphonic keyboards really takes the bands sound in an interesting, albeit slightly haphazard sonic direction, and the clean vocals on "Insurrection" really do sound cool and interesting, even when in your heart, you know that it sounds rather sellout-esque.
All in all, for all the shtick that Lamb of God get, the new album definitely isn't too bad. All things considered, I'm quite impressed. It's not going to by my album of the year, and I doubt I'll feel the need to listen to it constantly, but frankly, it was a good listen, and to an extent, it's re-kindled my interest in the band a bit.
It's finally here, Lamb of God's "Resolution". We had our doubts, our beliefs and now all of our questions will be answered with this album! I must say this is definitely Lamb of God's best thus far, from beginning to end this album starts with a powerful track ("Straight for the Sun") and then ends with a powerful, yet melodic, finale ("King Me"). I listened to the entire thing at least 3 times since its release and I must admit there's nothing wrong with this album.
For starters, Lamb of God has stuck with their early-era roots, but somehow managed to change or re-create them in a different way. Everything sounds new and modern, but in a way the "old school" vibe of the band lingers and manages to stay there, they just made it sound more clean. Compared to LoG's other releases it's pretty solid and in place. Pick an album like Sacrament or Ashes of the Wake and compare it with Resolution. There's a giant difference in terms of quality and sound, LoG's earlier albums were a but too distorted and messy around the edges that you couldn't distinguish what was being played. Resolution on the other hand was definitely a resolution for the band and they tried to avoid their previous fuck-ups and turn it around with some clean and audible tracks. The guitar solos dominate the tracks, Morton executes these beautiful sweeps and melodies that are just mind blowing, and example of this will be found on almost any song on this album, but you'll hear it most on "Ghost Walking". Chris Adler's drum work has always been the best and it still is on this instalment. Blythe's vocals are actually good this time and he can extend them for gratuitous amounts of time. This album is clearly nothing like Wrath and that's a good thing, Wrath wasn't bad but we just don't want a repeat (in other words: we don't need a Wrath II).
This album blew my mind away and it's definitely LoG's best album they've made thus far, they've come a long way from Burn the Priest to Lamb of God in full form. I absolutely recommend this album to any fan, new or old, and if you've haven't heard of Lamb of God, this album is a good way to start.