For their eighth album, Lamb of God has gone self-titled. It makes perfect sense as it speaks directly to their fans and demonstrates that the band will always be exactly who they want to be.
Randy Blythe, Mark Morton, Will Adler, John Campbell, and Art Cruz. Fans already know who is whom in this lineup, and recognize Cruz is recording for the first time with the band after being the touring drummer for some time. Lamb of God is one of the most recognizable and highly regarded bands in heavy music today. The Richmond, Virginia-based band started out as Burn the Priest in the mid 1990s. They released their first Lamb of God album, New American Gospel, twenty years ago, and have been stalwart metal workers ever since. Ashes of the Wake and Sacrament were a sort of tipping point for the band where their notoriety rose to the level of nonerasable. It has been five years since their last studio album – the longest gap in the discography – so fans are more than ready for new music.
The new album is filled to overflowing with fresh, blistering riffs. The rhythm section is a rippling marching force, laying down the cadence and pounding out the attack. Randy Blythe has an iron voice that seems to strengthen with every album and every song. As a special bonus, there are guest appearances by Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed and Chuck Billy of Testament.
There is a narrative arc to this album. The first song is “Memento Mori,” which is usually translated as something along the lines of “remember you are going to die.” That’s a mood setter if there ever was one. Blythe has said in interviews that the album should be listened to in order because of the story it tells. He has gone on to say that they establish social issues in the first part of the album and that later songs provide an idea of how to resist what seems like a rising tide of horrors in contemporary society. Things might be messed up, and it is a struggle, but it is not the end. So don’t pick a song to listen to out of context, at least not the first time through. Sit down and listen to the whole album, front to back. It is all great music and you’ll have a better experience this way. You can always listen to your favorites again and again.
Lamb of God is out now and available absolutely everywhere. Epic Records has physical copies in many forms, and there are nice import choices from Nuclear Blast. This is one of the best releases so far this year. Highly recommended.
Band photos by Wayne Edwards, Aftershock 2019.