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Lamb of God – VII Sturm Und Drang

Published:

Last Updated on 02:07 PM by Lilliana Tseka

Genre: N.W.O.A.H.M./Metalcore
Country: U.S.A.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year: 2015

Life is an incessant quest. Regardless of the common assumption that the meaning lies in the journey rather than the destination, there comes a time when a beautiful journey comes to a bad ending and that bad ending overshadows the feeling left from the whole journey. Sometimes, in spite of our optimism or pessimism we will embark on something new only to find ourselves trapped into unexpected circumstances. And we all know that life never comes as expected or planned; instead, life has its own way to attack, beat up and leave us apart, lying with bruises and blood on the cold ground, trying to pull ourselves together. At the end of the day, life goes on whether we break or make it through.

Every journey though is an adventure on its own and Lamb Of God make no exception, considering they have been traveling for years now.

After 21 years of musical career and lots of trouble for its members, this band is a pioneer of what is called “New Wave of American Heavy Metal”. Their sound is unique and all band members are great musicians, both individually and as a whole.

Now you may think that the band has it all, but the truth is way darker and bleak. Having been playing together for 6 years already, they became popular by the age of 30 (this may be the reason they are quite modest on their interviews). They have since had trouble with alcohol abuse, health issues with family members and of course Randy Blythe’s incarceration by the Czech authorities with the charge of manslaughter.

All that has obviously affected the band. The aggression of their first albums (even under the name “Burn The Priest”) has given way to more melodic forms, leading the band to different orientations. Resolution’s “King Me” is quite the example.

So, after Randy’s incarceration and the announcements that the band would like to focus on their families for a while, there were the good news for a new release in 2015, under the title “VII – Sturm Und Drang”. Storm and stress, a title inspired by the homonym proto-Romantic movement in German literature.

The title alone is enough to signify that the band has gone through some serious self-criticism. The outcome is definitely different…different from what the band used to be. The sound and the compositions may have the distinctive touch of Lamb Of God, but there are elements that appear for the first time.

“Sturm Und Drang” is made of 10 songs, with each and every one of them differentiating from the others. There is a certain flow and an even transition from song to song; within every composition lies a core trademark to the band. There are moments though that will take you by surprise.

The fans who loved the band’s first albums (up until “Ashes of the Wake”) will get the same feeling as they did with their previous release. On the other hand, those who loved “Wrath” and “Resolution” will certainly enjoy the novelist experimental approaches followed on “Sturm Und Drang”.

These approaches work like a double-edged sword; one may either love or hate them. The clean vocals are the main issue here. I personally appreciate Randy as one of the genre’s most talented vocalists. I also take into consideration the need for experimentation. The thing is, he’s just not that good with clean vocals. It may be his tone, it may be that it’s his first attempt, the thing is it just doesn’t work. Such moments are enough to destroy a good song. Luckily this is not the norm, but there are songs like “Embers” where Deftones’ Chino Moreno’s vocals end up deflating all the panic mood that had been piling up.

Moving on to the guitar work, the Morton-Adler duo may sound a bit numb on some riffs. But that is the only drawback. The rest of the riffs are what they used to be: sharp, rhythmic and complex. If you are a fan of the band’s maniere guitar-wise, there are plenty of riffs to carry you away and make you headbang. Some tunes have a more metalcore vibe; that’s not bad, although it’s not exceptional. “Overlord” is a track bound to surprise you, due to its southern feeling and the most clean vocal parts of the entire album.

The bass is high on the mix (like on almost all their records) and you can listen clearly to Cambell’s intricate performance following the guitar tunes. His fillings are as exemplary as always and in perfect sync with Adler’s drums.

If there’s one thing that remains steady in Lamb Of God’s compositions, that’s the drumwork. The elder Adler brother is once again a pleasant surprise with his fills and footwork highlighting every single tune.

If there’s an issue with the album (although every remark I’ve made so far is on the positive side) it’s the structure of the tracks. Good riffs are followed by mediocre riffs. In short, there is no “Ruin” or “Hourglass” in here. Yet the album is not bad. There may be some weak spots, but nowhere will you find something that sucks. Oh and I’ve listened to the album more than three times, so take my word. Sturm Und Drang is one of these records that grow into you the more you listen to them. My initial thought when I first pressed the play button was “well, that’s kind of disappointing…” but after having listened to it a couple of times it turned into “well, that’s actually pretty good!”.

By good, I mean good in comparison with every other release of the same genre. The same does not apply in comparison with the band’s previous releases. However, I would suggest giving the record a second and third chance. It really is worth it. My personal favorite tracks are “Delusion Pandemic”, “Anthropoid”, “Embers”, “512” and “Footprints”.

To sum up, this is an album that reflects the band’s status. It is not bad; it is unique and should be treated as such. The internal quest of the band after all they’ve been through is obvious in every track so we shouldn’t be strict. Besides some of the tracks I mentioned, especially “Delusion Pandemic”, are bound to haunt your soundsystem. Kind of like Sacrament’s “Walk With Me In Hell”.

If you are a fan of “Resolution” then 5/6 is the score for you. Now if you loved “Ashes of the Wake” consider a 2,5/6. For a neutral listener though that enjoys the genre in general, a 4/6 is more accurate, and probably a fair score for the album.

4/6

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