By Jeff Blackburn
I hear the train a comin’………Sorry folks, VII: Sturm Und Drang isn’t Lamb of God’s version of Folsom Prison Blues. If you are looking for that I suggest reading Randy Blythe’s new book “Dark Days: A Memoir”. There are two songs that deal with Randy’s incarceration, “Still Echos”, and “512”. As far back as the bands Burn the Priest days, and the first two offerings as Lamb of God (“New American Gospel” and “As the Palaces Burn”) the band had a sound that was new and different, “Ashes of the Wake” was the major label debut, and the sound again was different from the previous efforts. Point being throughout their history, the band has had the core sound, and have expanded on it many times. The debate about these changes has fueled intense discussion between fans and the god damn “heavy metal” media for years. Some dig it, some don’t. When I first heard Lamb of God, I dug what I heard, then it sounded the same.Then the incorporation of different elements, which sounded cool, then it sounded the same again. With VII: Sturm Und Drang, the band has returned with a vicious, out for blood sound that made my ears say “Holy Shit this is good!”
The album starts off with “Still Echoes”, a violent history lesson about Pankrac Prison, where Blythe was an inmate, about the Nazi take over of the prison during the German occupation of the former Czechoslovakia. Between 5 April 1943 and 26 April 1945 a total of 1,079 people were beheaded by guillotine in Pankrác by Nazi executioners. A nice calming historical fact, that would soothe the soul in what can only be imagined as personal hell. The furious pace is a controlled fury that the band seems comfortable leading. No let up as the album rips into “Erase This”, a song which( I know, which one doesn’t) showcases Chris Adler’s drumming prowess. The entire record shows the band, in what I feel is their musical best. Instead of writing and finishing a song on their own, guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton work together on songs giving them a uninterrupted feeling of cohesiveness. John Campbell’s bass is heavy as hell and accents Adler’s drum clinic. The lyrical subject matter is reminiscent of early Slayer songs dealing with the horrors of history, and a few WWII tidbits.
Overall, I give VII: Sturm Und Drang a 9 out of 10. By no means is this easy on the ears. It is a violent and ferocious album. “Embers” featues a guest appearance from Deftones’ frontman Chino Moreno, and is a song that gets the blood flowing, with Chino coming in doing his thing as only he can. Some may not dig this song because Deftones’ are not Slayer. Get over it, it’s a good tune. Album closer “Torches” features Dillinger Escape frontman and lunatic Greg Puciato. Blythe’s spoken word approach with Puciato going ape shit is very cool, and it has a mean thick riff to satisfy the ear that craves chaos. Blythe’s vocals are off the charts throughout the album. I have never heard him spew into the microphone with such venomous disdain and purpose which is evident on “512” as he screams “My hands are painted red” like an insane narrator at the most horrific crime scenes. In a way that’s exactly what he was. Witness the new chapter in an already lengthy biography that is Lamb of God. While Blythe sure had time in his personal hell, not knowing if the worst would come to light, the band also has the same mentality. One thing is for sure, the band isn’t taking anything for granted, and driving themselves to be the best they can like this is their last shot. This is the revolution, this is the resistance.
A recent interview conducted with Randy Blythe and Jeff Blackburn
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