After a year hiatus, Richmond, VA metal outfit Lamb of God are back and ready to resume their touring schedule and hopefully their rapid rise. "VII: Sturm und Drang" marks not only a new Lamb of God album but a new Lamb of God as a whole. While the heavy, choppy riffs are aplenty on this album, there are also some signs of progression and maturation that show the band are ready to start expanding their horizons to newer styles and sounds (it isn't a bad thing people!)
Opening track "Still Echoes" is a classic LoG track in that it comes in and puts a boot squarely into your face. Romping, churning guitars and Blythe's trademark snarl/growl announce the band is back in a ferocious mood. The bass on this track and subsequent tracks is near the forefront, giving it some oomph and thickness. "Erase This" is another monster track that is packed with aggression and some noodly guitars with a talk box section in the bridge that adds an element of fun to the track. "512" are the numbers of the prison cell Blythe was in while in Prague on trial for manslaughter. As expected, the track is a bit dark and doomy, with some spoken word portions by Blythe and some very primal screams in his delivery.
"Embers" is up next and it's where we begin to see a shift in the band's sound. While there are some typical LoG moments with the heavy, groove-focused riffing, there is also a change-up with the pacing about midway through and definitely at the end of the track which is epic with this swirling almost miasmal guitar part that just feels as though a wall of sound is enveloping you. Also, Chino Moreno from the Deftones lends his vocals to this track and steals the show. His velvety rich vocals work so well with the somewhat subdued and more atmospheric guitar during the bridge and following portions.
One of my favorite tracks of the album so far, "Footprints", immediately snaps you back to attention with a heavy, bombastic intro before launching in to a groove-heavy riff. A damn catchy tune and one I can see being a huge success live. "Overlord" is up next and it's the most complex and interesting track on the album. A very sedate, almost ballady track, "Overlord" is freaking genius. Blythe does clean vocals, yes I said clean vocals, on the entire track and they sound brilliant. They sound natural and when paired with the screams and growls that grow as the song progresses, they're a perfect complement and show just how much range Blythe has as a vocalist. The slowed down speed of the track really allows you to hear the instrumentation and talent of these guys. Then at about 3:38 in, the band explodes and turns it up to 11 for a few minutes and just rips it up. Then they return to the sedate feel of the beginning and wrap up what is slowly becoming my favorite track by the band ever. "Anthropoid", "Engage the Fear Machine" and "Delusion Pandemic" amp up the aggression as the types of tracks we've come to expect from this band with an added element of anger.
"Torches" is the final track on the regular album and it features Greg Puciato from Dillinger Escape Plan providing backing vocals. A bit of a slow burner to start out, it rapidly picks up in pace as the song progresses. Blythe and Puciato both have spoken word portions and Blythe's growls and Puciato's snarls and wails mix well together. A perfect way to round out the album.
The digipak version of the album has the tracks "Wine and Piss" and "Nightmare Seeker" as bonus tracks and they're both traditional LoG tracks with groove and aggression galore. The production on the album is handled once again by Josh Wilbur. It's masterful in the overall quality and his ability to pull out the bass and make it stand out where most metal outfits tend to drown it out in the final mix.
A return to form, "Sturm Und Drang" will have fans foaming at the mouth. Masterfully done boys and welcome back!
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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