THIS! This is the Lamb of God album I’ve been waiting for. If you’re a fan of Lamb of God you’ll no doubt be familiar with As The Palaces Burn but like me, the poor quality of the original recording may have stopped you from going back to it time and time again. No more my friends, this sounds like a new Lamb of God album, it sounds like the band have re-recorded the album from scratch and I’ve never heard a remastered album sound anything like this does.
Josh Wilbur, engineer, mixer and producer of earlier Lamb of God and other heavy metal stand outs – including Limp Bizkit and Avenged Sevenfold – has to take the credit for re-creating Lamb of God’s somewhat unique sound perfectly and I can’t thank him enough. I’ve longed to hear tracks such as ‘Ruin’ and ‘Vigil’ done “properly” and now I can appreciate every heart stopping moment created by the band as it should be heard.
‘Ruin’ kicks this album off in true LoG style by whatever the musical equivalent of a roundhouse kick to the face may be… but it feels rather nice! My fondest memory of ‘Ruin’ was seeing Lamb of God live in a little venue called the Q.M.U in Glasgow and warning my brother that “Shit is about to get heavy”, I’m not sure he believed me… he vanished in a sway of moshing bodies. At what point in the song did all this happen? 2:40. Seriously, ball tinglingly amazing.
‘Ruin’ blends seamlessly into ‘As the Palaces Burn’ giving you no time to catch your breath. This track is a refreshingly short 2:24. To many metal bands in this day in age going for the 6 minute and above track length which is fine but not always necessary.
‘As the Palaces Burn’ has finished, thank fu…. Oh bollocks, ‘Purified’ has just begun. HELP! I can’t stop moshing!! Another moment in this track of pure heavy metal beauty finished this off. The last 20 seconds breaks down into what can best be described as a marching beat. The good old 4/4 timing that makes you walk to its tempo. Such a simple but amazing achievement in music, another 30 seconds of this would have been perfect.
One thing I love in particular about this band (I love lots of things about them if you haven’t already guessed by the several mangasims I’ve already achieved listening to As The Palaces Burn) is that Mark Morton and Willie Adler use a fairly standard drop D tuning on their guitars. This means you can pick out every note and rhythm without the overly deep low tuned crunch you hear all too often these days. The consistency of melodic rhythmic and lead guitar playing allows singer Randy Blythe to play around with the typical verse/chorus/verse structure of songs and the results are simply outstanding.
‘11th Hour’ is a slow starter by usual standards but that is by no means a bad thing. It builds, it gives you a sense that something is about to happen and By the Power of Greyskull it certainly does. Between minutes two and three is a lesson on heavy metal riffery that should have an entire study dedicated to its magnificence.
I’m only four tracks in and I’m quickly running out of superlatives so let me summarise a few more highlights of the album so I can get back to listening to it properly. The intro to ‘A Devil in Gods Country’ allows the rhythm section to show off a little. The track kicks off with Chris Adler (brother of Willie, on drums) blasting out a short fill displaying his exemplary use of his double-kick drum skills before John Campbell (bass) joins in mirroring the kick drum in a syncopated rhythm that, as technical and complicated as it sounds still has a groove to it that other metal bands, for me, aren’t always able to do. ‘Blood Junkie’ is perhaps the only track on the album that stands out for different reasons. Apparently a bit of a tirade against the George Bush reign of America it sounds like a song spun around a political message and has an odd vibe to it. The instrumentation reminds me of The Dillinger Escape Plan meets Meshuggah which for some would not be the worst thing.
‘Vigil’, the last track on the album before you press play again, deserves a paragraph of its own. This track is a cacophony of musical excellence from intricate time signatures, outstanding musicianship from all parties to good old-fashioned head-banging action (the end of the song, be patient!). It is probably on par with how highly I rate ‘Ruin’ and is a perfect way to finish things off.
Lamb of God have had their turmoil’s recently most notably, singer Randy Blythe’s court case but with all that said and done they are back on the road and ready to kick your ass if you have the guts to see them live. If you’re not a mosher take a back seat and enjoy a band of gifted musicians playing metal as it should be played. If you partake in a pitting or two then get yourself in among it and look out for the good old-fashioned ‘Wall Of Death’.
As The Palaces Burn is due for general release on the 11th of November. The CD edition comes included with a documentary.