They say that the best metal comes from hard times. Album number seven from Richmond VA’s famous sons was in severe danger of never seeing the light of day at one point, due to Randy’s incarceration in a Prague jail. Thankfully ‘Sturm und Drang’ is here, and although it’s not a concept or autobiographical album documenting the experiences from Prague, those aforementioned hard times must play a major part in the make-up of this record.
As with their last outing, they have thrown a few more curveballs our way rather than just presenting another Lamb Of God album. There are also a couple of guests, clean singing and a slightly more polished feel to ‘Sturm und Drang’
Burn The Priest t-shirt bearers need not panic… within the first minute of opener ‘Still Echoes’ there’s enough whirlwind of aggression to assure us all that Lamb Of God aren’t chasing down the charts just yet. Although we rarely get to ‘Black Label’ standards of downright vicious onslaught; Lamb Of God still sound mightily pissed off.
Some outside input courtesy of Chino from Deftones and Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan certainly prevent this album from being anything like one dimensional. Chino adds a typically dreamlike ending to the previously rabid ‘Embers’ whilst closing number ‘Torches’ has some juicy layering added by Greg to create the most dynamic track on ‘Sturm und Drang’
And who’s that who pops up on ‘Overlord’ with some clean singing? That’ll be Randy Blythe then… that’s a curveball, right there. It’s a slow and lumbering track that erupts into a shred-explosion and stands out as the most distinctive song on the record. That’s good going considering Chino is on here with his utopian chorus.
Anyway, all we’ve done so far is point out the surprises on ‘Sturm und Drang’. We promised you some traditional bile-ridden Lamb Of God was still evident too…
‘Still Echoes’ and ‘512’ have been kicking around for a while. You already know those two are all out shit-kickers. If you want some circle pit starting thoroughbred American metal try ‘Footprints’ for size. With the tag line “How the fuck did you think this would end?” it’s begging to slot into the live show. ‘Delusion Pandemic’ has a whopping crunch in the riff and takes a more trademarked Lamb Of God approach whilst the thrashy ‘Anthropoid’ gives Max Cavalera a run for his money.
Randy has taken the reigns with the song writing on this record and nobody can deny it has put a different sheen on the Lamb Of God machine. The band are pushing out their boundaries slowly as they add a few dimensions to the band’s sound but all the time retain upmost respect for where the band has come from. They’re not about to drop everything that has come before and make their equivalent of ‘St Anger’ or similar.
Lamb Of God’s career is maturing like a fine wine. The raw and unhinged flavours that tore our faces off and grabbed our attention in their early days are slowly condensing into a smoother but equally hard-hitting outburst. They are steadily adding a more complex palette to their work and surely turning into one of the most well-rounded heavy metal bands out there.
‘VII : Sturm und Drang’ is out this Friday on Nuclear Blast Entertainment