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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.