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i hesitate to call this disappointing - 90%

ironasinmaiden, June 9th, 2003

.... because it kicks more ass than Clubber Lang in a blood frenzy. Yet, As the Palaces Burn is dwarfed by its predecessor, 2000's extreme metal meisterwork, New American Gospel. If NAG was a towering behemoth of reckless intensity, 'Palaces' is a more subdued beast, menacing, but not overtly so. Those true metal purists who can't handle Lamb of God's hardcore leanings will probably embrace their new direction, since the order of the day is less breakdowns, more melody, and a somewhat reserved approach to creating kick ass heavy music.

Of course, Devin Townshend produced, and did a satisfactory job. The guitar tone is suitably heavy handed, and everything else sounds good. I was worried he would botch as bad as "Natural Born Chaos"...

Opener Ruin grooves along with a classic Celtic Frost stompin' rhythm, and the first thing you will notice is Mr. Randall Blythe's vocal approach... instead of rabid wolverine screeches, he growls in a lower, almost INTELLIGIBLE register. There are less Meshuggah knock off riffs, although Ruin sports quite a mighty one... it's more of a circle pit song than a flat out killfest (Black Label). "A Devil in God's Country" reigns in some serious energy and comes the closest to recapturing New American Gospel's vibe... to be fair, Purified is equally as brutal.

My favorite songs, though, are 11th Hour and For Your Malice, two uncharachteristic barnburners with MELODIC riffs and what can only be described as infectious choruses. 'Hour''s verse reminds me of an Exodus riff, until that incredible guitar part kicks in... killer stuff. Blythe executes a few Anselmo-isms in FYM (that low mumble thing he does in This Love..), surely lacerating his larynx in the process.

Lamb of God put themselves in a tough spot... destroying everybody with a classic debut album and not being able to deliver the same product again. Like, Don't Break the Oath is nowhere near as good as Melissa, but cool nonetheless... Nevermore's Enemies of Reality is great, but no Dead Heart in a Dead World. Fans of heavy music in general need to rally around Lamb of God because they are the genre's great white hope.