It’s not easy maintaining a career in heavy metal, year after year, decade upon decade. The best stuff isn’t created with a view to energy efficiency, while the cogs that keep the operation turning need constant care and attention. Even Slayer – who Lamb Of God accompanied across north America on their final run last year – eventually conceded that three and-a-half decades of pumping constant bile into the cosmos was more than enough and bowed out last year.
Many a great has seen themselves essentially ‘retire’ from the artform due to wear-and-tear on their body: Megadeth‘s Nick Menza (bad knees), Slipknot‘s Joey Jordison (spine problems), AC/DC‘s Brian Johnson (poor hearing). You imagine that an alternative career performing do-wop wouldn’t have been quite so taxing on the body.
This, Lamb Of God’s 10th studio album, marks the Virginia band’s first release since 2015’s VII: Sturm und Drang, the longest the group have ever left it between records. There’s almost certainly something significant to be read into self-titling your record after all this time. We’re going to go with: this is a record that’s the most authentic version of the band Lamb Of God want to be.
Sure, there’s been a line-up change – founding drummer Chris Adler tags out to Art Cruz, formally of the bands Prong and Klogr. There’s a peppering of guest vocals too: the excitingly fussy ‘Poison Dream’ sees Hatebread’s Jamey Jasta spew what’s left of his throat all across the song’s middle-eight and Chuck Billy from Cali thrash metal band Testament does everything to make ‘Routes’ a Testament record, except suppress LOG vocalist Randy Blythe’s roar. Speaking of which…
Though defined by one of modern metal’s most guttural voices, album 10 goes to a host of new, previously unexplored places. Opener ‘Memento Mori’, driven by Mark Morton’s unforgiving guitar, flirts with the ethereal goth of the Sisters Of Mercy. And is that blackened metal we can hear on closer ‘On The Hook’?
See, there’s another reading of Lamb Of God’s decision to self-title their new record, all these years in. These are times of great political and social unrest, the sort of juncture where a band like LOG become a necessity and not a luxury. Consider it akin to a soldier making a will before going into battle, but it feels like Lamb Of God are putting their papers in order and gearing up for the next charge over the top, not thinking about winding down at all.
Release date: June 19
Record label: Epic, Nuclear Blast