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Lamb Of God
Wrath Mark Eglinton , February 25th, 2009 07:16

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  1. Intense anger; rage; fury

There are metal albums so utterly irrelevant and flabby that you feel obliged to don an identity-concealing balaclava when parting with your hard-earned for them, even if it’s just on iTunes. Conversely, there are those so vital that they see you tooling- up in full combats, ready to stalk the neighbour's cat with a view to wearing its grizzled hide to the record store as some kind of macabre trophy. Suffice to say, Wrath, the fifth album by American metallers Lamb of God, falls into the latter category. While not for a second condoning feline harassment, it’s vital to hammer home just what we have before us here...

Think of what grabs you about Slayer at their most visceral, dial in the sheer lumpy chug of Vulgar-era Pantera, finally, crank the volume knob round to eleven, and you’re getting closer. It’s tough to pigeon-hole, but if you must, file this shit under H for HEAVY, nowhere else will do.

To mention Lamb Of God in the same rancid breath as Slayer and Pantera may seem a tad ambitious, but believe me this generation of metal needs heroes and we may just have found them; in fact, down the line when we think of 2009, in metal terms it'll undoubtedly be dominated by this record. It’s that damn important.

Their progress to this point has been all about solid, technically adept metal, but conducted outside any definable sub-genre. Now though, operating under the neo-classification ‘American Metal’, it’s blatantly apparent right away that what was once very large is now positively gargantuan. That’s not to decry what went before, not at all, for their back catalogue is mighty impressive. It’s just a measure of the scale and scorched earth nature of the eleven cuts on here (thirteen if you buy the enhanced package) that stands as a colossos over the terrain of what went before.

Randy Blythe, hardly the most melodic of vocalists, deserves special praise. He is at least part of the reason for Lamb Of God's progression, rendering the listening process a white-knuckle hell-trip through all that is good about metal, culminating in us being huddled pathetically in the corner, muttering darkly.

He snarls, spits and rarely sings, at times even outdoing Phil Anselmo at his own game. It is totally compelling, especially when tightly grafted to the kind of riffs that force your blood rapidly through the smallest of orifices, whether it’s anatomically necessary or not.

The instrumental lead track ‘The Passing’ has that certain kind of something that only monster albums like this can muster, an acoustic intro building into a superstructure riff that quite simply announces WE HAVE ARRIVED...

And arrive they have, for everything that follows backs up that claim and then some. indeed most of it suggests that we’ll be listening to this ‘til Judgement Day, and probably longer. 'Dead Seeds' is all machined riffs with a captivating stomp - nothing particularly new for them, but believe me this ride has been pimped-up to dramatic effect. The same applies to 'Broken Hands', a bludgeoning monster underpinned by a groove that just won’t let go and a killer screamed chorus hook - yes sir, this is the real thing. And on and on it goes, everyone single one a stone cold shoe-in for space in your psyche, not just your i-pod. If you had to narrow it down, and believe me that ain't easy, 'Fake Messiah'’s twisting malevolence and the sheer full-on head crush of 'Contractor' are high points. No filler, no let up, all classic. Simply put, the most exciting metal record in the last ten or so years. Here kitty kitty...

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Cameron Black
Mar 4, 2009 5:59pm

Exactly right, Mark. Spot-on review. 'The most exciting metal record in the last ten or so years' - that's not exaggeration people. And you thought the eponymous 'Burn The Priest' and subsequent 'New American Gospel' were heavy records...imagine that power refined (not to be confused with 'diluted' as we heard on 'Sacrament'). This album will be the metal release of the decade and sets a new standard for others to follow. Lamb of God are the new, undisputed heavyweight champions of the metal world. I love this record so much it almost brings tears to my eyes!

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Mark Eglinton
Mar 16, 2009 7:40pm

I didn't see ' Sacrament' as diluted,the lack of any variation was the issue, but in anybody's language it's a colossal record and 'Descending' is the best track of theirs, ever. But,'Wrath' just demonstrates an acute awareness of the environment in which they operate and consequently delivers on all fronts.

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Cameron Black
Apr 17, 2009 12:37pm

Yes, perhaps 'diluted' was the wrong word for Sacrament. Although the tracks are as complex and brutal as any other LoG album, I couldn't deal with the polished production that I felt detracted from the brute force that marks this band from the rest. I think Machine is a talented bloke but I'm not sure why he processed the sound so much. Listening to Sacrament tracks live is a totally different, and immeasurably more satisfying experience. I'm very happy with Josh Wilbur's work on this record, best of all worlds. And finally....I would certainly agree that 'Descending' is a mighty song, very probably the best thing on Sacrament but better than, say, 'Salvation', 'Ruin', 'In the Absence of the Sacred', 'Reclamation'...? Not to my mind.

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Mark Eglinton
Apr 22, 2009 7:58pm

You're right about the production on 'Sacrament'; it is too polished, and I think in retrospect they would probably agree. The 'new' record is more pleasing on the ear, and definitely a nice balance. I'll stick with 'Descending''s all that is good about 'the Lamb', crammed into one song ! Your picks all work too though..

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