Five years removed from giving us my absolute favorite record they’ve ever done in VII: Sturm Und Drang, veteran Groove Metal band LAMB OF GOD return with a new, self-titled effort (June 19, Epic Records). It’s been a long time coming, and it’s finally here. I caught their show last summer on SLAYER’S final tour and they clearly were as fired up as ever, with no signs of slowing down. This made me think that the coming record was gonna be just as intense as the rest…I was not wrong. The fire still burns white hot and bright within these guys, and I am here for it! Singer Randy Blythe is venomous as all get out, and the players are coiled and ready to strike. This includes drummer Art Cruz, who is making his recorded debut with the group…
Did he have some big shoes to fill? Of course, and he does just that, never overplaying, and injecting his own nuances into each track. At the same time, make no mistake, he is still bringing the ruckus and wreckin’ shop from beginning to end. The guitar tandem of Mark Morton and Willie Adler have an endless array of riffs in their arsenal, and bassist John Campbell is a low end master, chugging away in full lockstep with Cruz. “Memento Mori” is a very dark and ominous way to start the record, then around the 1:40 mark they kick the door in with surgical precision, something the band does very well. “Checkmate” is a scathing takedown of Trump, featuring the line, “Make America Hate Again.” This was one of my favorites because fuck him!
Next up is “Gears,” and you can tell that the Riff Gods are surely pleased with this one, as am I. Power, punch, and groove all come together in a glorious cocktail that goes down so smooth. The hook is badass, too! The one-two combo of “Reality Bath” and “New Colossal Hate” are rooted in the state of the world today, the former an indictment of where we are as a society, and the latter another shot across the bow at the current administration and their bullshit immigration policies. “The melting pot is melting down,” screams Blythe, and he couldn’t be more on point. By the way, these are two of the album’s strongest tracks, and if we ever get live music again I sincerely hope both of them are in future setlists.
“Resurrection Man” is deliberately slow and stalking for much of the song, with Blythe barking like a junkyard dog who hasn’t been fed all day, and spots a wounded animal ripe for the taking. It’s only a matter of time before he pounces, and the whole band does just that at roughly three minutes in. Get ready to bang your goddamn heads, people! “Poison Dream” is another really riff-tastic affair, and also features Jamey Jasta spitting fire on his own verse. Not a big fan of HATEBREED but he totally kills on this one, making a great song even greater. Same goes for “Routes” featuring TESTAMENT’S Chuck Billy. This one mines Old School Thrash Metal territory, and Billy puts an excellent touch on it. Another favorite for sure!
“Bloodshot Eyes” is easily the most melodic tune on this record, and while it is catchy don’t think for one minute the sound has lightened up for even a second, because it hasn’t. Closing us out is “On the Hook”, a song about our current opioid epidemic, and yet another shovelful of coal into the Riff Furnace. Cruz lays down some blast beats here as well, and the whole group sounds galvanized and ready to fuck shit up as Blythe screams, “Prescription for a homicide!” All in all, this is a fucking excellent LAMB OF GOD album, one that will be on many a year end Top Albums list, mine included. If ever a record was worth the wait, this one is it. Do yourself a favor and go buy this fucker on release day. You can thank me later!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM