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Some Hard Tunes, But Plenty of Monotony too - 62%

psychoticnicholai, January 15th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Epic Records

Lamb of God's third album, Ashes of the Wake is an album that focuses on war and the not-so-noble things done during it. LOG have been mixing Pantera groove with death metal-tinged metalcore since they began and here you see a very even mixture of these influences result in some cool songs, even if the album as a whole feels rather monotonous. Honestly, if the tones and tempos would change up more from song to song, we'd have something that feels more even and engaging.

If there is something these guys do well, it's blending groove riffs with thrash rhythms. Many of the songs sit between marching and swinging to emphasize the martial themes of this album. Some downright nasty riffing, destructive atmosphere and breakdowns on "Hourglass", "Now You've Got Something to Die For", and "The Faded Line", all of which are swinging and destructive songs with plenty of winding riffs. The songs themselves all over the album feel pretty winding, but this can wear on someone listening to this from beginning to end. There are songs that go wrong with this and just feel repetitive, like the plodding "Omerta" where it just feels like the same thing over and over for almost 5 minutes. Much of the later album feels less energized because they use a similar tone all throughout and tend to use the same chugging riff for a minute straight, really wearing them out. Rowdier songs like "Remorse is for the Dead", especially with its still, soft build and explosive release of fast pummeling riffs, bring the energy back and make the Adlers' playing feel like their putting their energy into these, brutish march-like rhythms. Blythe gets the job done as far as vocals come, but like the Adlers, he does best when he varies his tones and tempos (especially going faster/higher) but like the two brothers, he's stuck in mid-pace mode for much of this album without much change. The album opens on several good songs and ends with a good one, but lacks for variety in the middle. The chugga-chugga can only keep me going for so long, man. I need some more grooves!

This album has some quality slug-out tunes on it, but otherwise is at a loss for variation. Tonal shifts are rare and this can make this album feel plodding and laborious. Some shifts in tone and tempo would've helped tremendously and made this a much more satisfying listen. Ashes of the Wake is an album that does fine some of the time, but just really needs to shake things up every now and again due to tonal monotony. I'd still recommend this based on "The Faded Line" and several other tracks that warrant a few replays. They really are pretty gnarly.