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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.