Lamb of God have been through some serious shit since their last album in 2012. So much shit that a combination of legal fees and Randy Blythe’s fatigue sent the whole project into hiatus, which, as we all know, is the band equivalent of booking an appointment with Dignitas. While unquestionably the dude most harmed by the whole fiasco is the guy who fucking died, it’s hard not to see the whole incident as a a bit of apocalyptically shitty luck. In the end it’s probably a good thing they let Randy out; It’s not hard to imagine a boozy recreation of the storming of the Bastille, only less powdered wigs and more Ashes of the Wake battle jackets.
He’s released now, of course, and thank mighty Thor’s equally mighty bicep for that. And if you’re concerned that the fire might have been dimmed for the heavy metal masters, think again. Not even a year of toilet wine and shank crafting have done anything to dull their edge.
Sturm und Drang, aside from bearing the dubious honour of being largely written in prison, is a translation of “Storm and Stress” and it’s as apt as these things get, being as it is one of the most oddly confrontational albums I’ve ever heard. Not only is the singing exclusively in Lamb of God’s ferociously guttural style, it’s lyrically beastly, with brutally memorable lines throughout. Particularly memorable is “Delusion Pandemic” which finishes with a weird diatribe in which Blythe does a convincing impression of a drunk who’s caught his own eye in a bathroom mirror. “It doesn’t matter how unfair you think the world is, it only matters what you do,” he rants furiously at himself with words that, despite their own simplicity, become something powerful when you consider the place he was likely in when they were first conceived. It’s an energy that permeates the album, with Blythe grunting each word like the language itself has personally offended him. Expect violently spat syllables in the full brutality of style they’re known for.
It’s not all fury, though. “Embers” takes a couple of momentary breaks from bestial grunting to allow Chino Moreno to remind us of the beauty of clean singing. These moments are some of the highlights of the album, not because Blythe’s voice isn’t great, it seriously is, but because each break works as a kind of breather, so when Blythe comes back it hits with the force it deserves. Though, speaking of breaks, “Engage the fear Machine”’s solo is a different beast entirely, a catchy hook making way for familiar electric soloing, cementing their reputation as one of the most potent metal bands around today.
With Sturm Und Drang, Lamb of God are proving two things; they’re back and that they’re harder than ever.
LAMB OF GOD
Album: Sturm und Drang
Released: July 24th 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast
Score: 8/9 Hammers