Lamb of God - As the Palaces Burn - reviewed by: AFS
1. Ruin 2. As the Palaces Burn 3. Purified 4. 11th Hour 5. For Your Malice 6. Boot Scraper 7. A Devil in God’s Country 8. In Defense of Our Good Name 9. Blood Junkie 10. Vigil
Lamb of God has been one of my favorite bands since I first heard their New American Gospel album. So I was really excited when I heard a new one was just around the corner. This was a highly-anticipated and hyped-up release from day one. The reviews have called this an epic album that will set the future for metal. Devin Townsend produced it. It was going to shape metal forever. I say otherwise.
The opening track, “Ruin”, starts off where New American Gospel left off. Technically sound metal with vocalist Randy Blythe’s trademark vocals. Only this time, his words are understandable and he comes off sounding like every other shitty metal vocalist from bands like In Flames. But hey, at least there’s a really cool breakdown at the end of the song. But from there, things go downhill fast. Not only does Randy keep annunciating more clearly, but the music progressively becomes more and more in the vein of bands like In Flames and Shadows Fall.
The title track is repetitive and mundane. “Purified” opens with a riff I could have sworn was from the latest effort from The Haunted. “11th Hour” features riffs stolen straight from At the Gates and any other Gothenburg band. It ends like a track from any hardcore CD from Trustkill Records. A really repetitive and unoriginal breakdown with random harmonics throughout. No thanks, I heard that on the Poison the Well albums. The liner notes say that Today is the Day’s Steve Austin does guest vocals on it, but he just talks really softly and it’s nearly inaudible. I’d be ashamed to be on the CD too, Steve. A major high point for the album is “Boot Scraper”, a track that is what Lamb of God is all about, or so I thought. The song should have been on New American Gospel, because it’s head and shoulders above almost anything else of this album. “A Devil in God’s Country” features Devin Townsend adding all sorts of harmonic singing over a rather mediocre song. This song sums up exactly why I hate everything Devin Townsend does. If Devin is the devil, I’m going to start going to church. “Blood Junkie” is another legitimately good Lamb of God song, except for Randy’s annoying talking through the verses. Just scream or shut the fuck up, I don’t care which. And finally, to remind you that yes, your ears weren’t deceiving you and Lamb of God actually did do this shit, there’s the final track, “Vigil”. It opens with a lovely little acoustic part, unheard of for them, and then goes into a sludgy, distorted mess that I almost expect to hear Randy actually singing on. Fortunately, he didn’t. But the song does end rather strong, with the technical metal I expected all along from these guys. At least they went out on a high note.
I could sum things up with a statement from an esteemed colleague: “For a band that refers to themselves as ‘Pure American Metal’, they sure are using alot of Swedish riffs.” This statement is very true. But there are some high points that are worth hearing, especially “Boot Scraper” and the second half of “Vigil”. But all in all, I’ve heard this album before. Only it was put out by a band called The Haunted...or In Flames...or even Shadows Fall. If you like these bands, you’ll love this CD. I for one, do not. If you liked New American Gospel and expect the same thing from this release, just do your best to download tracks 1, 6, and 10, and forget that the rest of this album was ever written. Revolver magazine enthusiastically called this “the most devastating album of the year.” They were exactly right. After hearing a band I so highly regarded put out a pure bullshit album that just adopts the metal styles that are popular right now and almost completely abandons everything they have ever done, I really am devastated.
Rating: 5 out of 10 (they get half, because they half-assed the album)
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details