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Erase This - 35%

Cannibal Perturbator, July 7th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

Lamb of God has been having a remarkable progression and is generally considered the leader of the American metal of the 2000s. Drawing influences from Pantera, Slayer and the Swedish melodeath scene.

VII: Sturm und Drang came out after lead vocalist Randy Blythe's manslaughter case. As an album it is not breaking any new ground in terms of songwriting or tonal innovations. Predictable songwriting, easy to digest riffs, vocals that lack projection and lowest common denominator choices. As a positive aspect, the technique is of high standards and the song structures are well thought out. However the album is completely lacking the ferociousness and bite you would expect from an extreme metal band. Most of the choruses contain an 'In Flames' melodic progression and the clean/"creepy" lead lines also seem to be influenced from the Swedish fathers of metalcore. That's the keyword actually Metalcore. No matter how much they try, in the end they're not too different to Killswitch Engage and this album is the proof.

If you let VII: Sturm und Drang play in the background while you are doing other things, you won't even notice it. Nothing would bother you but more importantly nothing will grab your attention either. Everything is done by the book, the band performance feels normalised to sub-optimal levels and the production is the safest you can think of.

What I can never get over though is Randy Blythe's uninspired vocal delivery. You can hear that that the Melissa Cross vocal courses have resulted in him adding zero projection to his performance. That technique is great when you're out on tour and you want to preserve your voice, but when you're recording an album you need to put your whole soul into it. He definitely doesn't and every time I hear him sing I feel getting ripped off.

If you are into metalcore, this is a good example of the genre. If you're after proper metal, that is evil and daring, look elsewhere.

My Welcome to Metal - 91%

NekrotikSovl, January 26th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

This album is undeniably one of Lamb of God's best works. Good music tends to come from rough times, what with Randy Blythe, his charges of manslaughter and getting locked up. The majority of people believed that that would be the end of Lamb of God, but in 2015 they released VII: Sturm und Drang with goes to show that being accused of murder and going through hell won't stop them. "512" become a Lamb of God classic about Randy's time in prison, with hard hammering lyrics.

This was my welcoming into the wonderful world of metal, although I had no idea about the whole accidentally killing a fan situation until later. Being the youngin that I was, I saw a classmate who was almost always wearing the same Lamb of God shirt. Naturally, I got curious and eventually looked them up, it was the most intense music I have ever heard. Granted, Lamb of God is not the heaviest thing out there in the world of metal, but when you grow up listening to indie rock it is quite shocking. At first, I didn't really know how to feel about it as I had never heard vocals like that. I was drawn to it all the same. The vocals are discernible and angry, varying in volume depending on the song like the volume switches in "Still Echoes." Overall, the vocals are good and don't sound too forced. Nothing is worse than the sound of a vocalist nearly silent wheezing in a record or having to take huge breaths that can be clearly heard. It feels as if Randy is pushing himself to do different things with his voice without it sounding too experimental and out of his comfort zone.

What surprised me as a clueless future metalhead was how good the production quality for such loud music. The vocals don't blend into the instruments, but at the same time don't stand out too much either. You can clearly hear the notes of the guitars with no muddy blending of the music. The drums shine through as very well written but under control. Chris Adler did a great job on this album, creating great headbangers like "Erase This" and "Engage the Fear Machine". Overall, it seems like the communication and relationships between the different sounds and musicians seem very well executed. The guitars complement the drums and vocals very nicely which I feel like they had a lacking is some of their previous albums. My favorite song on this album is most definitely "Embers." I especially like how Randy changes up his vocal style throughout the song. It truly seems to give it new layers as far as quality goes.

Lamb of God's VII: Sturm und Drang includes newer lyrical experimentation by Randy Blythe, great drum work by Chris Adler and such a great heavy hitting sound. This is such a good album to be for my welcoming in the world of metal. Nothing could stop Lamb of God from writing a great album fueled by grief, anger, and pain. The passion expressed through this album is just incredible.

Back to form! - 89%

Dead1, February 18th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast (Digipak, Limited edition)

There are some that believe that great art requires hardship and suffering. And those of us following the saga involving Lamb Of God's singer Randy Blythe's manslaughter cases, the question arose what sort, and if any, music the band would come up with after the ordeal had finished. True to form, the band's new album VII: Sturm Und Drang's album seems to adhere to the adage that art needs pain.

Let's face it, while Resolution and Wrath were good albums, in many ways they were safe and comfortable. The band seemed to be heading down the same path of cut and paste albums that plague a lot of the big players these days.

VII: Sturm Und Drang sees Lamb Of God at their most inspired for a long time. For the first time since Sacrament they throw in new elements including a new willingness to tone it down occasionally (toned down by Lamb Of God standards that is!). "Overlord" channels Alice In Chains with its vocal harmonies whilst Chino Moreno (Deftones) is tastefully incorporated on "Embers."

The classic Lamb Of God groove metal numbers with their massive riffs are still here, even in the mellower tunes. The songs are less conventional and thrashy than Resolution and in many cases go back to Sacrament's Southern style groove or the more hardcore tinged As The Palaces Burn. The result is some of the most instantly memorable melodies since Sacrament.

And the band literally sound like a fire's been lit under their collective derrieres. The delivery is sharp, precise, and intense. Randy in particular and he sounds like a man with something to prove, especially on "512", a song about his time in a Czech prison. As such, even more standard Lamb of God numbers like "Engage The Fear Machine" sound revitalized.

Whilst this album won't blow the metal world away like their early works, it's certainly a great addition to their catalogue. It's refreshing to see a band willing to go out of their comfort zone and pull off some new sounds. And it's equally great to see an established band such as Lamb Of God get back that passion that attracted the fans to them in the first place.

A reassurance of energy and vigor. - 75%

bkuettel, January 18th, 2016

Lamb of God fans wildly speculated that the band were cruelly torn apart due to vocalist Randy Blythe’s incarceration by the Czech Republic in 2012. Imprisoned for manslaughter, he could hardly be faulted for merely pushing a dangerous fan from breaching the stage. However, the fan had tripped and later died from head injuries. Blythe was not held criminally liable, and released by 2013. These tumultuous events, the band’s drained funds from legal fees, and other setbacks left their future in question. An optimistic announcement to enter the recording studio in 2014 was an encouraging sign to say the least. However, Blythe stated that following this album, it's tour, and the release of his new book, he would take a long break from Lamb of God. The question now is what has changed for their signature, reliable groove metal sound in the wake of these extreme events? Well, the answer is not much. Recent releases had refined and streamlined their instrumental songwriting, as well as included more instances of singing and spoken-word passages from Blythe. Once again, Lamb of God’s minimal forays into experimentation are the most memorable and enjoyable aspects of the powerful, refined qualities within VII: Sturm und Drang.

Perhaps the most noticeable influences from Lamb of God’s crises are the change of lyrical themes. Musings on imprisonment come up minimally, but are certainly there. Spoken word verses like “Six bars laid across the sky, four empty walls to fill the time, one careless word, you lose your life, a grave new world awaits inside” and screamed choruses like “My hands are painted RREEEED” from “512” paint a disturbing picture of what Blythe went through during those harrowing months in prison. Aside from that, everything about Lamb of God remain largely the same. Chris Adler’s drumming is technical and enjoyable to listen to as always, and John Campbell’s impressive yet mostly inaudible bass playing follows the rhythm guitar riffs. “Embers” remains a nice exception, with only bass and drums fading the song out to the end. Mark Morton and Willie Adler keep the guitar riffing and chugging at the forefront as always. Sparse moments of non-distorted clean guitar playing shine through the cracks of walls of distortion and riffage. These rare gems are pleasant surprises among the consistent and relying formula they’ve utilized for eight albums now.

“Embers” and “Overlord” both feature atmospheric, dark guitar passages that provide a welcome change of pace. The latter in particular sounds more like something from Alice in Chains than Lamb of God, especially with the use of clean guitar arpeggiating. Blythe even breaks out a decent singing performance, making for their most interesting song to date. The guest vocalists help provide some welcome variety, and instigate some of the album's most instrumentally interesting moments. Aside from these occasional experimental flourishes, most of Sturm... is the same straightforward, hard-hitting Lamb of God we've all come to know and love. The first three tracks, particularly the dissonant "512" make for typical exercises in ferocity. Razor sharp guitar riffing, blasting drumming, and roaring vocals lay to rest any doubts that the quintet had been thrown off by Blythe's tribulations. Lamb of God is a band of strength and resilience, and the listener gets the sense that Blythe is exercising his demons through his vocals and chants.

While the first half of the album is impressive and diverse enough, the second half serves to maintain their established signature sound. The ending run of songs sacrifices opportunities for continued progression for playing it safe, even drawing parallels with previous releases. “Anthropoid” hearkens back to “Dead Seeds” from Wrath, particularly in the riffing and song structure. Given the nature of recent releases, an expected quality of Sturm… is the predictable verse-chorus-verse style of playing. There are minimal attempts at varying up the songwriting, which can result in songs beginning to sound a little too similar to each other. Aside from the aforementioned examples, nearly every track repeats the same formula and structural patterns. While the newer Lamb of God has been polished, reliable, and consistent, the older, rawer sound maintained a gritty, dark ferocity that somehow feels more wildly visceral and effective in retrospect. If anything, Sturm… is a solid reassurance to fans that Lamb of God are still going strong in their rising from the ashes of extreme circumstances, and a possible goodbye letter that keeps their satisfying, reliable songwriting style intact. In the wake of volatile recent events, as well as a confirmed hiatus for the band, that’s all we really need from Lamb of God right now.

Engage The Lamb Of God - 92%

Wacke, August 9th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast (Digipak, Limited edition)

For the past three and a half years, Virginia's Lamb of God has gone through some really fucked up shit overseas in Europe. With Randy Blythe getting locked-up and accused for murdering a fan some years ago, most fans probably thought that was the end for Lamb of God in 2012. Now, three years after Randy's ultimately brief incarceration and freeing, Lamb of God are back with probably their most anticipated album ever. Everyone including myself waited a long time for this album to hit the shelves, just to hear the result of the band's recent struggles. On top of it, their last album Resolution was a bit mediocre, so this album also had to prove that Lamb still is in the game.

During this past spring, Lamb fans around the world have been fed with as much as five different tracks from the album before its release. Yes, that is half of the actual album. Personally I criticized whoever was responsible for that because that kind of took away a lot of the anticipation, not to mention the first-time-listening experience being a bit ruined. Anyway, these five tracks showed great progress for the band and were all of high quality. I was really strung-up on the eerie and emotional "512" (named after Randy's prison cell number) and the inventive "Overlord", which rocks an Alice in Chains-vibe with Randy doing real, clean vocals. The rest of album is a bit experimental at times as well, and I really get a feeling that Lamb is intentionally moving on towards a more "mature" sound. This is evident in most tracks which are more chugging-heavy rather than blast-heavy, like their previous album Wrath was for instance.

The production job is clean and heavy. The band's now long-time producer Josh Wilbur once again handled this album, and I'm really satisfied with his work on every Lamb album so far. To me, his work with Lamb is so essential that I'm ready to call him a sixth "ghost member" of the band, and this album is his best production work yet. This album is certainly not as over-produced as Ashes Of The Wake or Sacrament were (both of them were produced by Machine), but it's cleaner than Wrath and better mastered than Resolution, which had some annoying digital clipping.

In the end I am very satisfied with this album. The band really brings out the best of themselves this time around, both playing-wise and in writing/arrangements. The band apparently wrote the stuff together this time around instead of individually, which I welcome as a successful outcome. Chris Adler and Randy Blythe kind of feel like the shining stars of this album, however, with Chris taking his awesome drum work further, and Randy really pushing himself to become more than just a screamer. This album is ultimately a very strong effort that feels like an actual band product, rather than a cocktail with a bit of everyone here and there, like the last album.

To my ears, Lamb of God has really topped itself this time, and Sturm Und Drang really is one of their finest efforts. The only album I would possibly prefer over this one would be Wrath, but that one is much more one-dimensional on the other hand. I guess I'll let my mood decide whenever I feel for some Lamb of God. And be sure to get the digipak edition - the bonus tracks are worth it!

Check-outs: Erase This, 512, Embers, Overlord, Delusion Pandemic.

Storm and stress and one hell of a comeback - 89%

Bloodstone, August 3rd, 2015

Do you feel Lamb of God have lost a lot of edge over the past decade? Like the fire just isn't there anymore and that they now sound a bit too comfortable and smug at their craft? Well, this album might just be what you – like me – have long been yearning for. If you've never warmed to the Virginians' brand of coarse, somewhat dryly delivered metalcore/groove metal before, Sturm und Drang (how's that for a title by an American major label act?) won't sway you even a little bit. But for fans, served up here is quite simply the strongest set of songs they've put out since Ashes of the Wake. Especially after the creative nadir and real dud that was their previous album, I can't say I expected this kind of quality from them ever again.

Aside from the half-ballad curveball track “Overlord”, really nothing here is changed about the band's highly recognizable, bluntly “rawr-rawr” southern-ass style, almost like the Pantera of our time. However, vocalist Randy Blythe going through legal trouble, imprisonment and basically hell since the last album (in turn putting the whole band's future in jeopardy) I guess was bound to leave some sort of mark, and the one positive outcome for everyone involved is the sense of a knife to the throat effect here, as if spurring on the band to write and perform with their livelihood threatened if they can't bounce back from things (the title sure seems to reflect this). Actually, on one hand, in terms of musical direction the album doesn't distinguish itself much from the rest of their discography, not unlike 2012's crappy Resolution. This doesn't have the more atmospheric and melodic approach of Sacrament, or the consistently aggressive directness of Wrath – this is just a very general, “vanilla” Lamb of God sound at its core. But the added sense of urgency and emotional turmoil is definitely there, resulting in songs like the bleak, haunting “512” – the soundtrack to your psyche being slowly torn to shreds right there, and a newborn LoG classic. Among the more straightforward stuff, “Erase This” is simply rousing, with riffage both highly melodic and razor sharp, recalling the group's masterwork As the Palaces Burn in its intensity. The distinctly Wrath sounding “Still Echoes” at first appeared to me as rather standard fare for a choice of first single, but subsequent listens have revealed a genuineness and drive to it, again one that hasn't quite been present over the past few releases. What I'm saying is, they now play it like they fucking mean it and have not put out another album just to have a career. Because I'm such a big fan, I have to pour some love over Chris Adler; ever Lamb of God's instrumental highlight and an essential component, his drumming impresses as always on the album. Those double kicks still flow like pouring water and for head-bobbing groove there's probably no one with better instincts. The incredibly strong material he is utilized for this time around makes you notice and appreciate his work that much more.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss some of the especially primal, uncompromising bluntness of the first three albums (under the LoG moniker), which did make up a lot of the band's charm for me. Of course, with age and maturity comes a delivery that is not quite as brash and more on par with what you'd expect from one of metal's most mainstream acts. But with songwriting this strong and a newly injected spirit to the proceedings (albeit under tragic circumstances), I'm really the last to complain and hey, it's not like they've gotten soft on us or anything. After a close call like that, it's amazing to have them back in such fine form. For your fill of stomping, American goddamn metal, look no further.

It's Business As Usual - 76%

PassiveMetalhead, August 2nd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

You have heard of Lamb of God. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a diehard death metal fan or if you’re a prog person, we’re all in agreement that Lamb of God have made the step up to be one of those artists that everyone knows and mostly everyone enjoys. It’s been well earned too: a string of successful albums have led them to big headline tours across the globe as well as headlining festivals among the likes of Slayer. Everything was going so well for them until the cataclysmic event that nearly bankrupted the band and had their singer imprisoned. In 2010 a fan rushed the stage during a show in Prague, Czech Republic and was reportedly pushed offstage by singer, Randy Blythe and later succumbed to brain injuries. 2 years later the band returned for another tour and left without Randy. 5 weeks in custody, 2 bails and numerous days of trial led to Randall. D. Blythe being found not guilty to the unfortunate death of one of his fans. What an ordeal.

Now that we’ve all exhaled our long sigh of relief we can celebrate the new intake of breath with Lamb of God’s new album since Randy’s acquittal. Lyrically, Randy raises the bar on his vocal capabilities than on previous albums. Quite simply, he sounds thoroughly pissed off in Strum Und Drang. This is resonated both via the typical Lamb Of God shrieks in vicious tracks such as 512, which describes the cell number and the effect imprisonment has on you. Affronting songs such as Erase This and Footprints heighten the fury that only a former prisoner could summon. However his anger can still be sparked in tentative moments of Strum Und Drang. The fatiguing Overlord begins with some new genuine clean vocals but against the dark, bluesy melodies of his band members an aura of solemnity is echoed. Perhaps this suggests the implication of sombreness that Randy feels towards the Czech family who have lost their son while the sudden rushes of strident grooves represent the anger of unavoidable responsibility he feels for the tragedy towards the end of the song.

Randy plays such a focused part of Strum Und Drang that at times you forget the talent of the other 4 members. Delusion Pandemic brings out the thrash side in Lamb Of God and also fixes the spotlight upon Chris Adler’s ballistic drumming abilities while Still Echoes enhances their unique and recognised sound. The latter sounds like a continuation of their previous album, Resolution, as Willie Adler and Mark Morton’s harmonics swerve around the vicious vocals. Even John Campbell’s brooding bass makes a significant appearance in Embers which is prominent in delivering the ominous end to the song.

Embers also happens to emphasize Lamb Of God’s experimental capabilities. The strange inclusion of Chino Moreno (Deftones) adds a lofty dimension to the music. His vocals reflect the shining guitars yet are contradictory to Randy’s usual screams. This is a similar effect in Torches which features Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan). Both vocalists are renowned for their raging approach on singing but here we see their lethargic natures. It’s a nice touch but most fans have become too attuned to the typical angry spikes in Lamb of God’s singing to fully appreciate the uneasy vocal shifts.

Phew! - 80%

Larry6990, July 26th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

It would be fair to expect big changes in the Lamb of God camp - after all, main man Randy Blythe has been through a hell of a lot in recent years (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you probably shouldn't be reading this review). After a spell in prison and a 3-year hiatus, most bands would certainly return to the fold with either a matured or ruined sound. From the recent reviews I've read about Lamb of God's brand new "Sturm Und Drang" (A German art movement in case you were wondering...), it was looking as if they might have fallen into the latter category. Then I decided to check out the new single "Overlord" - where I started to agree with many of the critics, though not to such a strong extent. THEN I heard the rest of the album...

Did the skeptics only hear that infamous single?! Because, aside from "Overlord" and the middle-8 of "Embers" - this is just solid, galloping, hard-hitting Lamb of God straight out of "Ashes of the Wake" territory! The drums still retain their metallic clang, the guitar/bass combo still crank out vicious riff after riff - though this time slightly more complex in their melodic structure (see "Delusion Pandemic"), and Randy's voice...well, the man's a beast, we're all aware of this. The production quality highlights all of these elements and the album is mixed superbly.

The only signs of gradual progression lie in the previously mentioned moments. There's a lot of divided opinion regarding the single "Overlord" and it's obvious why. The verses sound like an odd Danzig/Alice In Chains hybrid, and Randy's vocal style is very out-of-character. But man the fuck up, accept the difference, and take this track for what it is: a sprawling, moody ode with a furious, classic LOG middle section, and the greatest breakdown the band has ever written. That's right, even better than "Now You've Got Something To Die For". The second half of "Embers" is admittedly a little odd. The guest vocals from Chino (yeah, Deftones!) sound uncomfortable, and it's an anti-climactic ending to an otherwise blazing track.

Lyrically, this may not be any big departure from the usual fare. A bit of political gripe here, a bit of misanthropy there. But the dark horse on "Sturm Und Drang" is clearly track 3, "512". Blythe's experience in a Czech prison is released through some very poetic lyricism in a, surprisingly, non-violent way. This mood is reflected in the music too, bearing striking resemblance to "Walk With Me In Hell".

Though the whole affair may come across as being a little too brief, it's important to remember that it's not making an impactful statement - "Sturm Und Drang" should just be regarded as a continuation of the classic LOG sound that we've grown so attached to. From the slicing opening riff of "Still Echoes", through the anthemic "Footprints", right to the heralding finale of "Torches" - Adler and co. are not trying to make a grand entrance, or reinvent the metal wheel. They just want to record some goddamn true American heavy metal and fuck everyone else.

Okay, I confess. There's one more un-LOG-esque segment of this album, and now I feel I've justified the main offenders - I'll move on to it... The epic closer "Torches" is brooding and menacing, but never reaches full-on metal mayhem. It's just the perfect way to keep listener's tongues salivating for more! As Blythe bellows in the chorus of "Footprints": How the fuck did you think this would end?!

"It's business as usual,
We're bringing you disaster in high-def!"