Virginia metalheads Lamb of God have been a very inconsistent band as of late. They struck gold six years ago with their sophomore effort, As the Palaces Burn but they seemed to have stumbled a bit with their past two records. Their latest offering, Wrath has been hyped by the band as a "rawer and real sounding" record and that "it will surprise a lot of fans." While there may be a few surprises for fans, those who never cared for Lamb of God or have been indifferent to them will probably stay that way.
The surprises start immediately as the albums' opening track, "The Passing" is simply an instrumental build-up track. Lamb of God have a history of starting their albums off with a bang, ("Laid to Rest," "Ruin") so choosing an instrumental as an opener is kind of a surprise. The next track, "In Your Words" brings another new thing to the table, which is vocalist Randy Blythe using hardcore style yells rather than his usual deep growling. However, he only uses this "singing" style on this track and in the chorus of "Set to Fail" only it sounds a lot better on the latter. For the rest of the album, Blythe sticks to his usual transition of growls, high pitched screams and shrieks.
Lamb of God's rhythm section has remained very consistent and dependable over the years, and they continue to be. The most talented member is drummer Chris Adler as he keeps up with his usual fast, double bass style of drumming. He also creates some very impressive fills and beats to help make the songs even more powerful.
Guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler trade off rhythm and lead duties as like always and they definitely do a good job of showing off their talents. The duo's riffs are solid but very repetitive and predictable in a lot of cases. Not that their groove metal oriented style of playing isn't good, it just gets kind of annoying when you know what to expect with every song. Their leads are somewhat impressive, like the main one in "Broken Hands" which helps add a catchy element to this hard-hitting track. The guitar solo that stands out the most is the sweeping and arpeggios in "Grace." This track also starts off with some acoustic shredding which is an interesting and nice touch. "Set to Fail" also contains a somewhat impressive solo. There aren't a lot of parts where bassist, John Campbell stands out. You can only really hear him in the bridge of "Contractor." Other than that, he's mostly in the background.
Wrath's production is a bit rawer than their last two albums but it's not the same as it was back in the days of their first two albums which can be considered both a good and bad thing. The more polished production helps the members show off their talents a lot more but the album's overall sound lacks the same raw intensity they had back on As the Palaces Burn. One main downside is the aforementioned predictability of this album. While Wrath is a step above Sacrament, there is really nothing on here that will make Lamb of God one of the top bands in the metal scene today. Their post-thrash/groove metal style is enjoyable for the most party but there are quite a few instances of the band sounding way too repetitive and below-par.
To sum things up, those who were hoping for a return to As the Palaces Burn will probably be let down and those who were expecting more from these "surprises" the band was hyping will probably be let down, too. Overall, Wrath is a solid Lamb of God album and if you've enjoyed just about everything they've put out, then you'll enjoy this as well. I'm not sure how the band will build off this album, though. They have loads of potential but don't use all of it and it's been this way for their past three albums now. I guess it's not the worst thing in the world if they remain a "middle of the road" metal band for the rest of their careers.
Chimaira - Resurrection, Pantera - The Great Southern Trendkill
6.5 / 10
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