Lamb of God_Strum Und DrangAs post-Pantera flagbearers for delivering modern American metal to the masses, Virginia’s Lamb of God has garnered similar levels of commercial success and popularity while keeping their heads above water as their profile has snowballed. Even in the face of inevitable detractors, Lamb of God’s workmanlike dedication and impressive work ethics on the road has firmly established the divisive veterans as one of metal’s most (commercially) adored and successful bands during the post-millennium era. Unfortunately Lamb of God’s recent output hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, with the band treading water creatively for much of the past decade and succumbing to Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™. VII: Sturm Und Drang (translated to “Storm and Stress“) marks the seventh full-length release under the LoG moniker, and first since 2012’s solid but unspectacular Resolution album, and it follows a quite turbulent couple of years for the band.

Perhaps the most significant context behind this latest platter resides in the well-documented turmoil surrounding frontman Randy Blythe’s brief incarceration and trial in Prague on manslaughter charges following the untimely and accidental death of a fan on stage in 2010. Although Blythe’s acquittal occurred over two years ago, the events surrounding the case and implications placed upon Blythe rocked the band to its core and raised doubts over their immediate future. Thankfully those unfortunate occurrences haven’t derailed Lamb of God’s career or dented their resolve and they continue to apply tons of energy, passion and aggression to their work. Right from the outset the familiar elements are on show with reliably tight performances and proficient musicianship across the board. Chris Adler remains a creative beast on drums, and Mark Morton and Willie Adler churn out signature groove-laden leads and riffs, striking a muscular balance between technicality, melody and thrashy chops.

The main issue I have with later day LoG is they too often fall back into a safety net of recycled ideas and self-plagiarism, with much of their recent material lacking the vitality and engaging hooks of their earlier works  The first two singles (“Still Echoes” and “512”) lyrically tackle Blythe’s harrowing time spent in Pankrác prison, but both fail to make a musical statement worthy of the subject matter. “Still Echoes” serves as a solid opener with all the trademark LoG elements in place, but it’s also fairly unremarkable, while “512” is marred by Blythe’s spoken word vocals and its repetitive chug.

Credit where it’s due, Lamb of God break the shackles of predictability with the excellent “Anthropoid” featuring a more dynamic, dare I say ‘blackened’ edge to Blythe’s vocals, coupled with a catchy chorus and a number of strong riffs. However the biggest surprise occurs on the bloated semi-ballad “Overlord,” with Blythe dabbling in clean vocals as the band channel a bluesy ’90s grunge vibe. It’s a touch awkward musically and vocally but is not without its strengths. Unfortunately it drags too long and the heavier climax seems at odds with the rest of the song. Blythe flips between being a strength and a weakness to the LoG cause and I wish he would ditch the damn spoken word parts. What’s worse is his laughable tirade that shoots dead the momentum of “Delusion Pandemic” and conjures up ugly memories of Guns N’ Roses “Get in the Ring.”

Lamb of God_2015

On paper guest contributions from Chino Moreno (Deftones) and Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) sounds appealing, particularly when considering the contrast of disparate vocal styles. Neither song really takes flight though, with “Embers” being the stronger of the two. It’s a shame that Moreno’s contribution fails to capitalize on the song’s impressive build-up of trademark LoG aggression, churning riffs and inspired vocals from Blythe. Moreno’s stoned-out melodies are pleasant enough but can’t deliver the knock-out performance the song was calling out for. Amidst the uneven song-writing and mixed bag experimentation are a few barnstorming gems which alleviate some of the frustration, but they simply doesn’t hit the sweet spot often or consistently enough. “Erase This” is an especially bruising and dynamic tune, highlighted by inspired guitar work, thrashing bursts of speedy melodeath and a ripping solo.

Like much of Lamb of God’s recent output, VII: Sturm Und Drang bristles with energy and speckles of inspiration but is ultimately overwhelmed with tired ideas and patchy song-writing.  Diehards may lap this up, but I expect more from Lamb of God and demand a little more substance and consistency with my metal to fully recommend this uneven affair.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR:
7 | Format Reviewed: 192  kbps mp3
Label:
Epic Records
Websites:
lamb-of-god.com | facebook.com/lambofgod
Worldwide Release:
July 24th, 2015

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  • Oscar Albretsen

    Great review. I have only heard a couple songs on this album, but neither did anything for me. LOG has sort of become one of those bands that you always check out when they release a new album, but just don’t seem like they’re ever going to be able to recapture the old glory.

    • Totally agree with that last part : won’t recapture the old glory.
      this album was kinda like changin old stuff a little bit and put those in the new album.
      2.5 fits this album perfectly.

    • Luke_22

      Well said, my thoughts exactly. i still keep the faith but unfortunately the returns have been pretty underwhelming. But they would have to really drop the ball for me to lose complete interest.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Guess it’s because I’ve never really liked LoG but this is one of their better albums for me. :/ Maybe even the best although it’s much too early to make that claim woth confidence.

  • Excentric_1307

    In explaining who LoG was to my wife (yes, she listens to metal as well) I played songs from AotW and AtPB. I did not, however, play any songs post Sacrament. I think that probably sums up LoG’s current situation. They can craft some good songs, but as a whole there’s a lack of energy and new ideas on the current stuff.

    • Kronos

      I actually like Wrath well enough, but I think Sacrament is a pretty good cutoff for canon LoG.

      • Luke_22

        Yeah I agree Sacrament was their last ‘complete’ album. If you cobbled together a compilation of some of the better tracks over the past decade it would be a decent listen, but they just can’t deliver the goods often enough anymore.

      • AndySynn

        Personally I think “…Palaces”, “Ashes…” and “Wrath” are their strongest albums.

        I realise “Wrath” gets criticised a bit, but “Contractor” is one of their best songs (with a lovely Megadeth-when-they-were-good vibe), and then you have deeper cuts like “Grace”, “Broken Hands” and the highly-underrated “Reclamation” (also, the bonus track “We Die Alone” is highly recommended).

        Whereas “Sacrament” just feels flabby and mostly filler to me. I know it was a big success, but the strongest songs are “Walk With Me In Hell” and “Blacken the Cursed Sun”… with everything else on a steady downward slope in quality. Really feels phoned in to me.

        • Kronos

          I agree almost completely; ‘contractor’ is one of my very favorite Lamb of God songs.

        • hubcapiv

          Thank goodness. IMO Ashes of the Wake has higher peaks, but end-to-end Wrath might be my favorite Lamb of God album. From the general B+/C- reviews I figured I was the only one who liked it that much. But it seems that there are two of us.

      • Excentric_1307

        I would agree, wrath is a pretty good album. But it also feels like there was something cool, new, and hinted at in Wrath that was then completely ignored. To me it was this odd, apocalyptic western desert vibe (atmosphere). I was at a show (GWAR opening) in the Wrath era, and Randy was in full “evil priest on the pulpit” mode. It was awesome.

  • This may well be their strongest effort to date and an absolutely great record all around. Shocking too, since I am as far from a LoG fan as you can possibly be, but this hit all the right buttons for me.

    • Luke_22

      Glad you dig it Alex. I was pretty devoted to LOG’s first three albums but I’ve been frustrated by their later output. Several of the stronger tracks here feature of their better song-writing in recent years but too much patchy material here for me unfortunately.

      • Yeah, I just have a completely different take on it.

  • Kronos

    Great review. Though I haven’t heard anything from this album yet, LOG has been pretty shabby this decade.

    • I was about to argue and then I remembered this isn’t the ’00s and I started to feel kinda weird about the progression of time.

      But also, I quite like this new one, though perhaps I’m a bit more forgiving when it comes to their material.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    It’s big it’s heavy it’s wood it’s LOG

    • Luke_22

      It’s better than bad it’s good…

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        oh good, not too obscure!

        • Luke_22

          Haha not at all, I still bust it out for a watch every now and again. Classic shit.

    • I was trying SO HARD to get that joke in, but I really couldn’t figure out how.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        The promo clip is very heavy and set in a wood. It’s better than bad it’s good!

  • Zac Melvin-McNutt

    What rolls down stairs
    alone or in pairs,
    and over your neighbor’s dog?
    What’s great for a snack,
    And fits on your back?
    It’s LOG, LOG, LOG

    • sir_c

      Blammo!

  • Brian Kelly

    i havent listened to this but if or when a band is self-plagiarizing, thats the worst thing they can do aside from just being bad or boring. because when they do that, you know they are out of ideas because you plagiarize yourself because it feels like its good and comfortable, and maybe you get so caught up in making a cd that you dont especially know that youre doing it. if i was in a band or a producer, i would go back and listen to every previous cd of mine first and then cut out any part from a new record that was similar sounding.

    • Vice-President of Hell

      \track with clean vocals and bluesy riffing
      \self-plagiarism

      keep going.

      but i now dat thing. if they choose a new path in music, we will hear – log sell out!

      • Luke_22

        To me self plagiarism is not always the case of a band blatantly ripping off a particular song or riff from another album, but rehashing very similarly minded elements of their established sound, but in a less inspired, formulaic fashion.

        I don’t have a problem with what they tried to do on ‘Overlord’. The results were just a little uneven despite some nice moments. Generally, much of their material over this past decade has been maddeningly inconsistent and predictable. Unfortunately much of this album follows a similar path, albeit with a few killer songs sprinkled in.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I’ve not been a big fan or detractor for these guys, I don’t mind 512, it’s a pretty decent track, the spoken word stuff works well.
    The clip is great, I’d seen it a few times before I read this review and hadn’t realised the song is about his time in prison. I presumed it was a murder story … Maybe the promo is too good or my attention span is shot because i lost track of the song!

  • Vice-President of Hell

    lamb of god is my sacred cow. can’t say something bad ’bout them

  • Wilhelm

    I just can’t stand the vocals of these types of bands. I’m not even sure why my ears can tolerate and love dani filth, Atilla, and various death/black metal vocalists but absolutely hate these shouting dudes. I might give the music more of a chance, if I could get past the vocalists but it’s also that tough guy mentality and all those breakdowns…irritating as shit.

  • Here’s Johnny

    This is a great album, love the variety too with the darker/grungey(Deftones/AIC) type songs as it breaks up the heaviness.

    You are saying the first 3 songs are unremarkable, which must mean you were not listening to it properly. Those 3 songs are a fucking excellent and interesting start to the album, then ‘Embers’ changes things up perfectly. The album flies through for me, which is a good sign.

    2.5/5 rating is the usual bullshit from here. I’m calling 2/5 for the new Nile, chastising them for singing about the middle east all the time. ‘They should go and join ISIS!’ I’m pretty sure Steel Druhm already has.

    Great to see a band this heavy number 3 in US, 1# Canada , #2 in Australia, #7 in the U.K., #3 in Finland and #13
    in Japan and Netherlands.

    • Luke_22

      I applaud LoG for their success and I’ve had a long association with their music. However, like all the writers here at AMG I call it how i hear it and certainly don’t make half-arsed judgments based on a few casual listens.

      Speaking of which, while the opening couple of singles were solid but mostly forgettable to me, i did single out third track “Erase This” as one of the stronger tracks on the album. Overall, personally the album reflects the 2.5 rating in being merely ‘Okay – Nothing special’.

      • Here’s Johnny

        I have liked Lamb of God’s older albums obviously but i wouldn’t really consider myself a total fan of them as such. I have enjoyed their music over the last few years too but it was sounding a bit stale.

        This album however i have listened to about 3 times straight through, it doesn’t drag at all and is finished before you know it(press repeat). Sign of a great album to me.

        I think it might be a grower for some though and you will come back to revise that score higher at a later date.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    I ,for one, really dig Overlord. Fresh perspective and creativity. And Blythe’s cleans aren’t half bad.

  • buttsguy

    yeah this album didn’t do much for me. sounds like lamb of god, which i guess is a good thing, it just wasn’t enough for me to recommend it to anyone or go back to it.

  • Irineu Carvalho

    Is Lamb of God nu metal? I mean, it annoys me just as much as Korn or Slipknot.