Lamb of God
23 January 2012
by Tom Dare
Lamb of God appear to have truly made it in the A-League of the metal world. The way you can tell is by the number of people who have either fallen over themselves to froth all over latest album Resolution or taken to the Internet to moan about it. You have to be doing rather well to please/piss off this many people. So who’s right? Where is the line between bullshit and considered opinion (clue: you generally pass this when you open your web browser)? And most importantly, is Resolution any cop?
Let’s get one ground rule out of the way right now: variants on “Lamb of God songs all sound the same” or “get a new riff” are daft. Yes, Resolution is still based around pissed off grooving riffs. Pretty much like the new Napalm Death record is based around their strain of pissed off, grooving riffs. What the fuck were you expecting? A cross between Deathspell Omega and Mr Bungle? Lamb of God have a sound, the albums don’t sound the same, and that’s a crucial difference. It’s the same way Slayer have a sound, and Fear Factory have a sound, and Hail Of Bullets have Bolt Thrower’s sound. Complaining that Resolution sounds like a Lamb of God record is like going to a curry house and complaining that the food is spicy. It’s daft, and the characteristic being bitched about is why it’s awesome.
The comparison with Napalm Death releases an apt one in this case. Much like the grindcore legends’ latest outing, Lamb of God show a few new tricks have been learned and sweet Sathanas are they effective. Opener ‘Straight For The Sun‘ is basically a sludge track – imagine a more angry Crowbar, then make it more angry and keep getting angrier, and you’ve got the idea. It’s not what you expect, and it smacks you in the gob and gets your attention immediately.
The new bits continue with the brief, dark acoustic interlude ‘Barbarosa‘ and, as has been spoken about a fair bit by now, the superb ‘King Me‘. The album’s closing track works in a string arrangement and operatic female vocals and manages to lose none of that trademark Lamb of God aggression in the process. It’s one of the best things the band has ever done, evocative, haunting and roaring defiance at the sky all at the same time.
Watch the video to ‘Ghost Walking’ by Lamb of God:
There are a few – only a few – minor detractions that can’t really be avoided here, however. While there are no weak moments on Resolution as such, there is something ever so slightly missing – something stopping this being a “lose your shit” record and restricting it to merely “really, really good”. The tracks are all solid, and there are a few real stand-out moments. Opener ‘Desolation‘ is really good, ‘Cheated‘ rages like a bastard and ‘Insurrection‘ has some mighty, epic-sounding riffage. But the quintessential Lamb of God anthem – the ‘Laid To Rest‘, the ‘Redneck‘, the ‘Ruin‘, the ‘Set To Fail‘ for this album – doesn’t arrive. And it’s why Resolution takes bloody ages to really sink its claws into you.
This is Lamb of God making you work for a change. Everything up till now has been pretty instant, and they’ve earned the right to ask a little more from their fans. The result is a record with massive amounts to enjoy, but that you need to live with for a while to appreciate. Once you do, it’s excellent, but the absence of a song you can sing the chorus of on the first listen makes it that much harder to get into. Resolution might not quite Lamb of God at their best, but it still slays harder than most bands can manage in their whole careers.
Sounds like: Lamb Of God. That’s the whole point.
Standout tracks: Desolation, Cheated, King Me