By Lamb of God
There is an event, every couple of years or so, which conjures terror and discomfiture in every single band on the planet. An occurrence, that serves as a "call to arms" for all other musicians, or as the motive to lay down their instruments in submission. That time has arrived once again; the sixth studio album form Virginian metal overlords Lamb of God is upon us.
"Straight for the Sun" serves as a powerful, creeping intro; trudging with impending doom until Chris Adler provides the figurative, "event horizon" of the record. Making full use of his mammoth 21 piece, Black Panther kit; Adler's unyielding drum roll ushers in the inescapable velocity of "Desolation". The catchy intro is suddenly distorted into a high paced, psychotropic, pull off paradigm; perpetuated by the trademark Lamb of God tone: gritty, abrasive and full of vehemence. Eerie lead work follows the authoritative chorus; an unforeseen turn in an otherwise stringent track and Adler's shrewd use of triplets in the build up to the pounding outro, enforces the stern constitution of the track.
Guitarist Mark Morton counts in lead single: "Ghost Walking"; eight bars of a contrary acoustic riff, which manifests itself into a razor sharp stomp, accented by Chris Adler's incendiary snare drum. A striking pre-chorus is the perfect antithesis for Randy Blythe's unconventional vocal pattern of the actual chorus, while Morton's sweep picked, bend heavy, blues charged solo penetrates a wall of pulverant metal, with its penetrating tone. "Guilty" is an accelerated attack and only relents to allow a tidy chorus and a tyrannous beat-down to reign in dominance. Whereas memorable number "The Undertow" opens with a mightily miasmic riff, that is transformed into an inexorable eruption through a blistering display of dexterity from Chris Adler; somehow the stick wielding maestro is able to keep his ride cymbal in time with the frenetic double bass pedals. Evidence that Lamb of God have not abandoned their roots is exhibited through a traditional hardcore verse riff and a delectable, syncopated guitar/kick pedal riff (think: "Faded Line"). Another mountainous beat-down yields for Morton to display his substantial chops; the "soul of the band' displays impassioned lead work and adds another dimension to an already delectably dynamic song.
Conveniently titled; "The Number 6" features a plethora of musical ideas, without once losing its sense of direction. Sparing usage of 16th notes accompany a mid-tempo march, which without warning advances into a double-time beat. John Campbell provides some welcome bass interludes, whereas guitarist's Morton and Willie Adler essentially create 32 bars of mathcore; broken up by the incorporation of the drums and reprised immediately for a further 16 bars. "Barbarosa" operates as a spectral intro for the invigorated powerhouse: "Invictus". Though the track doesn't veer from its 4/4 time signature; it feels like Lamb of God are challenging the listener to anticipate, when the ever changing tempo will shift.
Straight up speed-metal is on the agenda, during unforgettable number: "Cheated". Ascending into 220bpm territory, the punishing tune discloses irresistible double bass and rhythmic chug syncopation, without losing any ferocity. The seething, menacing Blyth bellows: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" 2:35 of pure American metal is enough confirmation; nobody could ever feel cheated by Lamb of God. All bets for second single go the melodic "Insurrection". Clean, brooding vocals from Blyth are harmonised with demonic growls, creating a chilling atmosphere. Through all the tech-heavy drums, intricate riffage and an immaculate solo there is no denying, this is the standout performance from the charismatic front-man; listen to the delivery of "Irrefutable, Indisputable" and try to disagree.
A catchy staccato style riff, under swirling chromatic lead work signals the beginning of "Terminally Unique", before detonating into a hyper-energetic verse. Churning with malice, the bridge section is tremulously terrorizing and a reoccurrence of the staccato/chromatic section gives the track an indestructible foundation. We reach the summit of the album, with the phenomenal "To the End". An all-out Pantera-style, power-groove is unleashed; bounteous note bends and artificial harmonics plague the indomitable main riff and a compelling duel guitar attack follows a neat little solo.
Penultimate number: "Visitation" sustains its venom via a backbone consisting of a perpetual motion rhythm and a time shifting chorus. Another soaring speed-metal interlude is pre-empted by a typically Lamb of God complex, hallucinogenic riff-fest. Closing track: "King Me" affords Blyth the opportunity to give us his best Phil Anselmo impersonation during the spoken word portions of the song. Layers of guitar and barely audible synth create a grandiose, symphonious semblance; before another staccato riff decimates the orchestral ambiance. An out of breath Blyth wraps up 56:21 of cataclysmic chaos; after nearly an hour of speed-metal corrupting your equilibrium, you too will be left gasping and convulsing; attempting to assimilate the gargantuan force of nature that is Lamb of God.