Type: CD Company: Epic Records Release: 2016 Genre: Metalcore/Hardcore Reviewer: Greg Watson Published: 12/15/2016
Lamb of God's "The Duke EP" is about more than music
Virginia's metal monsters Lamb of God are a very polarizing band. Many metalheads that I've talked to fall in to one of two camps--they love them with a zeal and fervor that rivals many of the other rabid followings out there or they are hated with the fires of 1,000 hells for whatever reasons said person has. But with the release of "The Duke EP", Lamb of God shows that this release is about more than music and is something any metal fan can, and hopefully will, get behind.
"The Duke EP" was released mainly to honor long time friend of the band, Wayne Ford, whom Mr. Blythe developed a relationship with after meeting him after a 2012 show in Phoenix. During this meeting, it was revealed that Ford had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. Blythe was in contact with him again in 2015 after Ford had decided to cease treatment and spend his remaining time surrounded by his family and loved ones. After having conversations with Ford, Blythe was inspired to write the title track for this EP. I'm not going to get in to the whole story but you can go here to read it: [LINK]
It's a hell of a read and really helps put perspective not only on the EP but more importantly the humanity and good intentions behind this release. In addition to the release of the EP, the band has set up an auction site with 100% going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society here: [LINK]. You can donate various amounts to earn certain paraphernalia and a $5 donation enters you to win Blythe's own gold copy of "Ashes of the Wake". $5 bucks isn't a lot people and it goes to a good cause. Every one of us has had a family member or known someone who is battling some sort of terminal illness and you can donate to provide money towards organizations who fight daily to help people battling these crippling diseases. if you'd like, do your part and donate.
Ok, enough preaching. As for the EP itself, "The Duke" is a nice little mix of two new tracks and 3 live releases pulled from their support of "VII: Sturm Und Drang". The title track actually reminds me a bit of "Overlord" from the band's latest release. It features Blythe switching back and forth between clean vocals and his trademark snarl. I have to say, having heard two songs now with his clean vocals, I'm a huge fan of his clean singing and hope that the coming albums feature more of this singing from Randall. Musically, the track is both beautiful and aggressive, something that this also shares in common with "Overlord". You can tell this song was definitely written during the recording process for "VII". One hell of a song for sure. "The Culling" is vintage LoG, replete with swirling, melodic guitars and aggression as well as Blythe's snarl, dripping with acerbic fervor. Combining these elements along with a spate of sound that pulls from the band's last two releases, "The Culling" is another fine offering from these Virginians.
The three live tracks are "Still Echoes" and "512" from Rock Am Ring and "Engage the Fear Machine" from the Bonnaroo Festival. The first two tracks really highlight Blythe's use of a more black metal style vocal approach to his live performance while "Fear Machine" is vintage live LoG. All three songs really capture the spirit of the band and give listeners a taste of what to expect if they've never seen them live. All in all, "The Duke EP" is a great investment for LoG fans both musically and for the cause it is representative of.
So, whether you are a fan of the band or not, go out and pick this EP and join the LoG boys in saying "FUCK CANCER", the message on the t-shirt Blythe received from Ford at that 2012 show. And if you don't want to pick up the CD, go to the band's auction site and donate $5 to a great cause. Also, one last thing. This is something free to do and another step you can take to be proactive in the fight against these terrible diseases. Go to [LINK] and sign up to be a bone marrow donor, it doesn't cost you a thing. So go buy this EP and if you feel like it, check out the auction and bone marrow donation pages. Thanks for reading as always metalheads and keep the music playing.
About this Writer: Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.
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