Lamb of God
01 June 2010
by Tom Dare
Compilations are a tricky business. You have to balance enough of your best material to keep fans happy, cover as many of your albums as possible without dropping the quality in order to attract new fans, and still sweeten it with enough rarities to make the asking price worthwhile for your die-hard. Of course, if you’re Lamb of God, a band with as strong a catalogue as being one of the most consistent mainstream metal band of the last decade implies, most of this is easy.
What we have here is three discs. Beginning with their underground days, the first disc features the highlights from the band’s first three records – Burn The Priest, their first full-length from the days they still went by that moniker, New American Gospel, their debut release as Lamb of God, and its follow-up, As The Palaces Burn. It would be easy to quibble over individual tracks, but its fairly well balanced, with five songs from …Gospel and four each from the other albums. Most of the big songs are here (‘Ruin’, ‘Black Label’, ‘Resurrection #9’ etc) and, given how rarely Lamb Of God play any of that material live anymore, is probably quite brave, as commercially packing in songs from later records instead may well have sold better. The reason they don’t is obvious – the songs are stupendous.
Disc two, covering the last three albums of Ashes Of The Wake, Sacrament and last year’s astonishing Wrath, is likewise crammed full of ragingly brilliant songs, however works a not quite as well as the first disc. On Ashes… and Sacrament, Lamb of God appeared to move slightly away from pure heaviness to focus on songwriting and groove. With Wrath, the heaviness that made ATPB such an attention-grabbing record returned, the juxtaposition on this compilation making the listen a little unbalanced here. While songs like ‘Blacken The Cursed Sun’ and ‘Faded Line’ mesh fairly seamlessly, the barbarically heavy ‘Contractor’ totally neuters ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’, both in terms of musical heaviness and production. As it is, the best known song (‘Redneck’) actually sounds a touch out of place, and the band’s recent crowning glory – the 7-minute epic ‘Reclamation’ which closed Wrath – is conspicuous by its absence.
Long-term fans of Lamb of God will be most interested in the third disc, however. Containing all the bonus tracks from all versions of all six albums, rehearsal demos for songs from the last three records, and all of the demos from their early days as Burn The Priest, it is an absolute treasure trove. It shows the clear development they have made from their earliest beginnings – where the band are in more obviously death metal territory, albeit with plenty of groove – to the very identifiable sound they made their own on As The Palaces Burn. While new listeners will probably not be too interested in this disc (the songs are good, but you can see why they never felt the need to re-issue the material separately), for the long-term fan, this is an absolute must-have.
This is a throat-ripping, head-banging monster that showcases exactly why Lamb Of God have gained such a fanatical following since emerging as the century turned. Laden with groove and with the aggression of a bear defending cubs, this is conclusive proof of this Virginian powerhouse’s quality.
Watch ‘SONG’ by Lamb of God:
We do have to take a moment to cover the price tag, unfortunately. Weighing in at nearly thirty quid from an online retailer, it’s not cheap. Considering that you can get all six full albums for between £35 and £40 does not make it seem better value. This makes it perhaps a fans-only package, but if you’re a Lamb Of God fan with some spare cash, nearly three hours of pure American metal heaven awaits you.
Sounds like: Pantera, Slayer
Top tracks: Ruin, In Your Words, Redneck
Lamb Of God- Hourglass tracklisting:
The Subtle Arts Of Murder And Persuasion
As The Palaces Burn
Terror And Hubris In The House Of Frank Pollard
Lies Of Autumn
In Your Words
Walk With Me In Hell
Now You’ve Got Something To Die For
Set To Fail
Blacken The Cursed Sun
The Faded Line
Laid To Rest
We Die Alone
Shoulder Of Your God
Condemn The Hive
Another Nail For Your Coffin
Now You’ve Got Something To Die For (Demo)
More Time To Kill (Demo)
Dead Seeds (Demo)
In Your Words (Demo)
Ballad Of Kansas City
Suffering Bastard (Burn The Priest 7” demo version)
Preaching To The Converted