This isn’t Lamb of God’s first rodeo. Over the past two decades, their career has soared to unforeseen heights and been rattled with unfathomable lows. They’ve survived a name change [formerly known as Burn The Priest] early on, battles with addiction, censorship from conservative groups, a well-publicized spat in an international court, and perhaps most pressing of all, the fickle tastes of ever-changing music fans. Now, Richmond Virginia’s heaviest sons tackle their latest hurdle on their new self-titled studio album, Lamb of God out June 19th on Epic Records; a lineup change.
In 2019, founding member and insane drum master, Chris Adler, officially left the band. Adler’s playing style was unique, innovative, and a large part of Lamb of God’s meteoric rise to the top of the metal realm. To say his absence was worrying to many longtime fans, would be an understatement. Sure, tons of people could play his now-iconic drum parts…but what about writing new ones? What would the future hold for the band going forward? Luckily, Art Cruz entered the chat. Cruz had been filling in for Adler on the road since 2018 and has been a self-professed Lamb of God fanatic since day one. His years of experience playing in bands like Winds of Plague and Prong helped facilitate his sponge-like absorption of Lamb of God’s technical/groovy drumming style. Long story short, Chris Adler helped pioneer Lamb of God’s rhythmic language. The band’s new firebrand drummer Art Cruz is more than fluent in the said language and keeps the moshing pulse and headbanging raging on this new album.
Lamb of God sounds like everything longtime fans would hope for after eight [nine if you count Burn The Priest’s debut] full-length albums. Who wouldn’t expect a band to mature and evolve after 20+ years anyways? Comparing this new record’s opening track, “Memento Mori” with the opening song from their first album, the now iconically belligerent “Black Label” it might almost feel like two different Lamb of Gods. Of course, we don’t live in a vacuum now do we? Instead, “Memento Mori” with its ominous instrumental and spoken word intro feels just as unnerving as “Black Label” did all those years ago but in a slightly different fashion. The band goes on to rip through a solid, groovy-thrash assault sounding as pummeling, and as precise as ever.
This remarkable sense of balance might be the most surprising aspect of this new album. Initial fears that Chris Adler’s departure might derail the LoG train seem a bit odd now. Instead of self-destructing, we’ve got the most Lamb of God sounding Lamb of God album they’ve ever released. Songs like “New Colossal Hate” “Routes” [featuring Testament singer Chuck Billy!] and “On The Hook” rest comfortably alongside the heaviest bangers of the band’s career, while “Resurrection Man” might have one of the sickest grooves they’ve ever released which is definitely saying something! On Lamb of God, the guitar tones somehow manage to be both imposing, and pristine at the same time. Thanks to the studio magic of longtime producer Josh Wilbur, the listener has the distinct honor of hearing every nuance in the sonic beat down bludgeoning them. Frontman Randy Blythe’s vocals have never sounded so rich and varied. Blythe’s infamous roar previously sounded like an indecipherable chainsaw on past records whereas on the band’s new self-titled release he’s evolved into a veritable T-1000 of sleek/intricate stabbing weapons.
Lamb of God, the album, is basically Lamb of God, the band, taking a well-deserved victory lap. They’ve conquered every obstacle the universe has thrown their way and have somehow, emerged a stronger band for it. This new record proves that they can and will continue to rule the metal world with an iron fist for the foreseeable future, just as songs like “Bloodshot Eyes” hint at what type of sonic adventures they might explore next. The rest of the world might be falling apart in 2020, but it is truly an exciting time of Lamb of God right now.
To purchase ‘Lamb of God‘ click here!