Lamb Of God – VII: Sturm Und Drang
Lamb Of Gods eighth album was almost touch and go a few years ago and the future was potentially looking bleak for the Richmond Virginia five piece. If you dont know what I am referring to you have either had your head in the sand or was unaware of frontman David Randall “Randy” Blythes arrest and manslaughter case in the Czech Republic during the summer of 2012 where sadly a fan sustained head injuries from apparently stage diving leading to a coma and subsequent death. As ludicrous as the initial charges sounded when the news broke the internet in late June 2012, Blythe was was held in Pankrác Prison for a number weeks and it actually seemed like ok this is pretty serious now. Upon being allowed to return to the US, during this time petitions for the Free Randy campaign become common all over social media sites, as millions of fans and peers refused to believe the singer was at any fault. The trial was scheduled for February 2013 and true to his word a clean shaved, short hair Blythe returned to clear his name and on the 5th of June almost a year after his initial arrest he was acquitted of all charges.
In February 2014, the documentary film “As The Palaces Burn” was released world-wide which began filming in 2012 and was initially set to focus on fans from around the globe but drastically altered its scope following the arrest and captured the tense legalities as the case concluded. If you have not yet seen this, I can only urge you to do so.
So now in 2015, after a few turbulent years the band return with what can only be described as their most diverse album to date. VII: Sturm und Drang (translated Storm and Stress) is a very apt title and from the get-go album openers Still Echoes and Erase This very much start proceedings with the savage guitar riffing and drum ferocity that the band are known for. Blythes vocals are as snarl heavy as ever and we are in good place. For the third song 512 Blythe wrote the lyrics in his Pankrác Prison cell, ironically numbered 512, while he was contemplating how the experience was changing him. The song broods mid paced with a very catchy chorus with the lyrics I cant recognise myself, Ive become someone else, My hands are painted red
The track Embers starts as a very standard LoG song, perfect head banging double bass steam rolling along a catchy groove laden riff, but its in the second act of the song that things take a curve ball and Chino Moreno from the Deftones makes a guest appearance and suddenly this has potential to become you new favourite song. Brilliant.
Footprints is has Wrath and Sacrament written all over it, its blast beat driven intro and screams lets you know you are in a good place as Blythe snarls How the fuck did you think this would end?. Overlord has already been doing the circuits in video form and is probably the bands biggest gamble with regards to evolution. For one thing, Blythe is actually singing . and hes actually bloody good at it. This could be forever known as Lamb Of Gods Cemetery Gates or Nothing Else Matters.
Anthropoid and Engage the Fear Machine are substantial album fillers, not offering anything too new but are both are full of trademark Lamb Of God riffing. Delusion Pandemic begins with some seriously fancy drum work by Chris Adler before launching into another head banging anthem. Half way through Blythe start to narrate and getting more pissed off before a staccato outro as heavy as you like finishes the song off.
Last song Torches is another curve ball with guest vocals from The Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato which starts with haunting clean guitar and clean spoken word eulogy by Blythe as Puciato croons in the background. Sticking to the format of an epic melodic album closer as with the previous album Resolution and the song King Me this song takes many twists and turns between the fierce and the beautiful and is a suitable finale for what is a very important album not only for Blythe after all he has been through but also his brothers (bandmates) and after all that has happened the five of them have delivered a beast of an album.
For a while I was worried that Resolution could have been the last LoG album as I knew they had more to offer sonically and creatively . and thankfully VII: Sturm und Drang has not disappointed me in any way.