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The year 2012 is looking like a good one for fans of heavy metal, with releases of new albums from Lamb of God, Woods of Ypres, and Swallow the Sun already out, and Earth, Drudkh, Meshuggah, and Cynic set for new releases in the next few months.
If you are a big fan of the doom, technical, and post-metal genres, keep checking in with Toonari Post as we will cover these niches over the coming months. First up, let’s talk about Lamb of God’s new album, Resolution.
The best way to describe the sound of this new album is momentum: the marriage of speed and heaviness. “Straight for the Sun” opens up slow and sludgey, but by the end of this the second briefest track on the album, a sick and pounding drum rhythm picks up, dropping you into the next track with the momentum of a cannonball skipping across the surface of the sea.
Not for the first time, the atmosphere of the album switches from the sea to the desert for the track “Ghost Walking”, the current single from the album. The track is somewhat more narrative than is typical for Lamb of God, and starts off with a few seconds of acoustic guitar, referencing the often personal or especially heartfelt nature of songs set to acoustic guitar.
The acoustic facade quickly drops, however, and the vocals growl the struggle of a soldier returning from war. Lines like “There’s no one left to save” might sound a bit contrived, but “Desolation never looked so divine” elevate it almost to poetry.
“The Undertow” is a guitar-driven, rhythmic, shifting, pulling composition reminiscent of Icon-era Paradise Lost, with lyrical references to past Lamb of God albums and even references Metallica lyrics, paraphrasing “The empty can rattles the most” from “My Friend of Misery.” This is the first inkling of the flood of inspiration from past masters present on this album.
On the next track, “The Number Six”, Lamb of God starts out wholly within their own unique sound, then shifts the tone into atmospheric, Tool-like tension building, finally crushing it in the post-metal spirit of Isis or Pelican.
The two best examples on this album of Lamb of God’s willingness to experiment and stick their toes in other bands’ pools are “Insurrection” and the ending track “King Me.” “Insurrection” incorporates elements of prog metal into the mix and a complete change of vocal styles for part of the song. “King Me” actually features keyboards and symphonic metal stylings, which you would hardly expect from a groove/thrash metal band.
But the most impressive part about Lamb of God’s picking bits and pieces from other genres and subgenres is that it all still sounds like Lamb of God — they move seamlessly and logically between styles to create something melodic, compelling, and transfixing, like a hybrid beast of ancient myth staring back at you between trees in a forest. But there’s nothing ancient about the sound of the album; it’s this chimerism itself that constantly breathes new life into the band, nearly 20 years old, that has never lost its stride.
Lyrics from the song “The Number Six” on the album hint towards the mentality behind Lamb of God’s willingness and success in expanding their sound: “Sloth is the enemy of greatness / Reflection a scalpel to my mind / We strive as you leisurely criticize / A free ride till you find that you’ve dug your own grave”.
They could churn out album after album of the same old thing and ride the success of a few good early albums, but they have artistic curiosity that pushes them forward. The willingness of headline acts like Lamb of God to take the time and experiment is one of the things making metal a fascinating genre to be a fan of.
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