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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!"