I’m not going to lie, I went into this with preconceptions fully in place with to this band. They are those ‘mother fucking invitation’ guys that are alright when you hear them in a dingy club, too pissed to care and it’s the best thing that you’ve heard all night. I suppose I go into this with only that as a reference so I can be fair in judging it. With trepidation I press play and hope for the best.
We start with Straight for the Sun which has a slow plodding start that is reminiscent of that metal band from the 90’s. You know the one. The one with that guy in it. I’m trying to avoid saying their name, because that’s no way to run a review. Anyway, an unusual way to begin an album and it really doesn’t develop at all into anything interesting until it becomes clear it is just an intro to Desolation. Hello hammer-ons and oh God there are no surprises here. Basically they’ve moved from ripping off a band’s fourth album straight to their second. Well it depends if you include the Power Metal ones. Oh fuck I’ve given it away. Pantera. There I said it. I don’t see why I shouldn’t reference them seeing as it appears to be the only reference point this band have.
Pantera Pantera Pantera.
However, rip offs they may be but they have none of that innovation in their song writing and it is typified by this song. Randy ‘named like a wrestler’ Blythe’s voice is just parody and his lyrics no better. Ghost Walking starts with acoustic guitar but if you think that it might be interesting or a diversion from their typical fodder then those illusions are going to be shattered as quickly as the length of this interlude. Back to basics. That’s all this is. Metal by numbers.
I can see why people enjoy this as it doesn’t ask you to invest anything in it. It is throw away metal that no one is going to be waxing lyrical about in two years time, let alone in ten, twenty, thirty.
Pretty soon we have an example of the trademark Lambers soloing which is technically very good but like everything else it just offers nothing unexpected and it could be lifted from almost any generic metal song.
This leads us into Guilty, more of the same… Hammer-ons and pull-offs; check. Phil Anselmo impression; check. Boredom; check.
Finally, a change! Undertow. The riffs on this are a massive improvement to the previous track and this even has a vaguely Crown feel with a bit of Slayer-esque lead lines. The problem is that it’s not a riff I will be humming or have buzzing around my head in the next few days, and this is my third listen. Add to that another solo that seems completely out of place while technically fine.
Number Six – Clever coz it’s like also track six… you guys! More mid-paced fare that is vaguely similar to Swedes Darkane but without any of the interesting bits. Honestly, there is not a shred of originality here. If you doubt me go to YouTube and find the video for Secondary Effects. Even when they try to do something different out comes the Phil Anselmo impression fuelled by incredibly appalling lyrics. Then followed by gang vocals back into the Darkane bit…
Barbarosa is another attempt at something a bit different, acoustic guitar again accompanied by harmonised lead line with feedback. But this is not Orion or some instrumental epic. No further development of the motif and again as I suspected this is just an intro to the following song. It’s completely unnecessary in its placement as a separate song. Who do they think they are?
Invictus. Are we just repeating track six? No this is a new one apparently. The main riff on this is actually quite good but the problem is it is at exactly the same speed and in the same key as everything else on the album. If you’re not going to bother trying a little variation then you are just repeating the same song over and over again but this doesn’t really seem to concern Old Lambers. Also another biddly biddly solo again that’s alright.
Cheated follows.This just feels like Pantera (again!) or Poison Idea but without any of the genuine aggression and anger. There is also an epic fail attempt at a beat-down. Compare and contrast with any other cliché hardcore band and this doesn’t even come close. Boring.
Then follows the most laughable track on this album. All of a sudden they appear to be doing emo/goth or whatever this is supposed to be, mixed with their now infamous hammer-on/pull-off motif. It’s a little bit like modern day In Flames. Chords for the chorus and a ‘nice’ lead line over the top ensure this fills the quota of cliché drivel they do so well. Again I’m sure the kids will lap this up whilst going through ‘their phase’. On a slightly positive note I actually like the solo on this one.
To ‘The End’ and I’m starting to be glad of that. It has a cut and paste main riff. Pinch harmonics a-plenty, boy do they love them. Again another good-ish solo. By this point I’m not sure that I can take much more, but here comes the standout highlight of an otherwise average album. Visitation has some great riffs and structure but it is still Pantera by anyone’s reckoning and as much as I liked them when I was 16 this shit got old a long time ago. About the same time I did.
Finishing up, King Me. This starts with an ‘epic’ keyboard and wailing woman thing before it turns into another ‘Southern Metal’ song. Bored now. Overall this isn’t a bad impersonation of that Stadium Metal band but is that what Lamb Of God is? Does the world need another Pantera? I see Lambers described as ‘Southern Metal’ and by that obviously they mean Alabama or one of those other notoriously macho-macho states in the good ol’ USA, not Lahndun. Or Suffolk. Berkshire metal, perhaps?
I can’t identify with this and I don’t understand how I ever could. The way I see this is I’m probably ten years too old for this and my testosterone has certainly levelled out too much to want to pull preposterous faces while screaming along into my mirror, fantasising about nailing that hotty with the piercings. No, honest.
I’m certain this will undoubtedly be popular amongst ‘the kids’ and that can only be a good thing because when they finally develop musical taste perhaps they’ll realise that other bands can do this a whole lot better. They are a gateway band at best and for that I applaud them. Thanks Lamb Of God.
Like Pantera for me and Metallica the generation before that, they will be remembered fondly by Metal fans but won’t get as many spins as say that new grind band they just discovered or the next awesome band to explode out of Poland or Sweden. For the rest of us, not good enough.