LAMB OF GOD comes roaring back with their critically acclaimed album, “Ashes Of The Wake”. With critics and an ever growing mass of die hard fans using this album as their guide to Metal, it would seem that it should be an instant classic and should be in every Metalhead’s collection. But when I first picked up this album, with much enthusiasm I might add, I found myself quite disappointed with the band.
Firstly, one is going to hear that after the raw but very charming “As The Palaces Burn”, the production values on this album are massively updated and modern sounding. Something I had wanted to hear with this band for a long time – and the band does sound quite good with a clean mix and good production – but for some reason I felt like it was missing the charm that the raw production had given the band and although it’s a great production for the band sometimes it felt a little overproduced when they did so well with so little before.
Of course, production isn’t everything. The performances are top notch, as always, with nods going in Chris Adler’s direction once again as his drum playing is just ferocious and inspiring at the same time. And the chemistry between the guitarists is just as combustible as ever. But the one performance I felt a little let down by was Randy Blythe. The ever arrogant vocalist seems a little flat on this album towards the end with his sinister bark and although his energy is contagious it’s his performance that felt a little off for this record. It felt like every song had a similar vocal structure and sound to it without him pushing himself any more. Maybe I’m picky, but it’s something I felt from first listen and currently still feel.
But all that aside, “Ashes Of The Wake” didn’t feel to have the same flow in their song writing as they had before. The songs feel a little choppier on this release than before and although that seems to be the direction the band is heading (and US Metal for that matter) I miss the flow they had before. Add on top of that the massive amounts of politically themed lyrics and I was just not near as happy with this release. The lyrics felt a little like they wanted to force their political beliefs down my throat. And it’s not about whether I agree or disagree with them, but its about that they could have thrown in some other themes hear or there on the album. It just felt preachy to me – especially when the spoken parts came up. The beginning of “Omerta” – an otherwise pretty strong track from the album – is just too sermon like for my tastes. It’s an interesting choice but didn’t add anything for me.
So now comes the question: did I like the album as a whole? And yes, I did. It’s a pretty solid album for the band with some great performances. But a forced epic political message and some new song writing techniques prevent it from becoming a classic for me.
Songs to check out: “Laid To Rest”, “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For”, “Remorse Is For The Dead”.
(Online October 2, 2008)