Something that has always impressed me about the ever scrupulous LAMB OF GOD is that they were never a band to ever sound the same twice, leaving a specific sound to every one of their albums like a Heavy Metal fingerprint. So what does one expect on a new album from a band like that?
The band’s fifth album, “Wrath”, does have some qualities that make it very much a LAMB OF GOD effort. The use of odd rhythms and down-trodden melodies or their always under fire vocalist’s unique blend of guttural roars and shrieks come to mind. Those seem to always find their way into a LAMB OF GOD album and they are both contained here on “Wrath”. So fans of the band don’t have to worry too much that LAMB OF GOD is going to sell out.
Here comes the kick though: LOG just keeps getting better. I will always have a place in my heart for “As The Palaces Burn” but this is pretty much on par with the quality of material for that sophomore album. “Wrath” is the most raw, energetic, and well thought through album since the above mentioned release. I thought “Sacrament” was good but this makes it look like child’s play. “Wrath” is LAMB OF GOD in top form. Period.
It helps when the band’s chemistry is igniting like it did back in the day. The production is a more unrefined and it gives the band an extra edge that was missing on the last two efforts. Layer the bubbling hatred of “Wrath” with the band pushing their technical song writing efforts (like on the epic album closer “Reclamation”) even further and this album just seethes.
As for the band performances themselves, “Wrath” is some of the best work from these talented Virginians. Chris Adler adds a bit more of a snare driven force to his already impressive drum attack that gives the band a bit of a Thrashier sound (see the intense snare drumming of “Fake Messiah” for an example) and the guitarists (Mark and Willie respectively) are throwing in more impressive leads and solos to compliment their already monstrous riffs and the bass work matches what they throw down.
There even seems to be a greater sense of melody all around from the band. The melodic dueling guitar album intro “The Passing”, the melancholic into to “Grace”, or even the bluesy sections of “Reclamation” all add to this sense of melodic dynamics. Even vocalist Blythe gets into the mode too. Expanding his vocals further than they’ve ever been, he adds ‘singing’ to his roster of shrieks and roars on a few of the tracks including the first single “Set To Fail”. He doesn’t have the most beautiful voice but it works and he only uses it occasionally. It still beats the hell out of his pig squeal which thankfully never makes an appearance.
“Wrath” is what I had wanted to hear from LAMB OF GOD for a very long time. They nail it on this album with their more diverse writing and the new found energy that just rips through every song. They finally spread their wings in a way that makes me remember the days when I first began to follow the band’s music. “Wrath” is what all of us have been waiting for and it never disappoints.
Songs to check out: “Something To Nothing”, “Set To Fail”, “Reclamation”.
(Online March 13, 2009)