Being the first Lamb of God album since Randy Blythe’s incarceration over three years ago, in the wake of accusations of the manslaughter of Czech fan Daniel Nosek, the Virginia metallers return with a punishingly vindictive eighth album.
With even the albums name ‘Sturm und Drang’ being synonymous with a 18th century artistic movement in Germany that was characterized by a sense of emotional unrest and despondency, it becomes obvious that with the recent turn of events that will have no doubt shaped the musicality and lyrical content of the album. With this in mind VII: Sturm und Drang can be understood as an album that explores the notion of oppression and how individuals act within it, made all the more real through Blythe’s composition of two of the songs whilst he was in prison. The first of these songs “Still Echoes” explores the concept of tyrannical confinement and oppression within the legacy of imprisonment acting a resolute indication as to what this album is about, a vitriolic sensual assault that draws from their already distinguished fast paced and brute force mentality and combines it with a new found sense of melody and texture. The sound is a combination of the groove centred ‘Wrath’ and the punishing vindictiveness of ‘Ashes of the Wake’ providing a pummelling and thrash like sensibility that is well measured and thoughtfully composed.
Despite much of the albums fast paced and heart pounding nature the dynamic throughout the album is not restricted to a purely visceral mentality and has opened the floor to the introduction of melody and clean vocals in the forms of guest vocalists ‘Chino Moreno’ and The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato. On ‘Embers’ Moreno delivers his staple rendition of evocative and expressive vocals that commendably compliment Blythe’s guttural growl, providing one of the most mainstream and possibly pop like renditions that Lamb of God have to offer.
Comparatively on ‘Torches’ Puciato contributes to the mix with a mishmash of harsh vocal stylings and tuneful, melodious breaks, further fuelling the full throttle assault that is Lamb of God. Not only this, Blythe delivers his first instance of completely clean vocals in track ‘Overlord’, which is in itself revolutionary due its distinct absence from the bands two decade long career. This is not only indicative of a band who don’t want to be tied down by previous expectations but also feel the need to explore and expand upon their already dynamic sound.
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As with many of their previous albums, Lamb of God’s superb musicianship is yet again exemplified by their proficiency in providing songs that are riddled with an insane level of technicality that doesn’t detract or hamper the flow of the overall composition. The compelling and frighteningly accurate double bass rhythms provided by percussion hero ‘Chris Adler’ on fifth track ‘Footprints’, remain testament to the bands proficiency and meticulous technicality that has cemented them as one of the greatest metal bands of all time.
Similarly Mark Morton provides an abundance of southern blues infused metal guitar evident on tracks ‘512’ and ‘Engage the Fear Machine’ that showcases the six stringers obvious influence from Pantera and guitar legend Dimebag Darrel.
All in all Lamb of God deliver an album that is akin to the consistently high standards that has become to be expected of such a renowned and high calibre band making for one of the most undeniably quintessential metal albums of the year so far. Strum und Drang offers everything Lamb of God purists will know and love whilst indulging in the exploration of new directions that ultimately make for a more exciting and dynamic listening experience. Lamb of God are back and they’re angrier than ever. Still one of the most relevant and proficient metal bands in the business, this highly polished and brooding metal extravaganza propels the band well on their way to fortifying their position as the kings of metal, if they’re not already there.
‘VII: Sturm und Drang’ is out now on Nuclear Blast