"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Lamb of God - "Wrath" (CD)

Lamb of God - "Wrath" CD cover image

"Wrath" track listing:

1. The Passing (2:00)
2. In Your Words (5:27)
3. Set To Fail (3:48)
4. Contractor (3:24)
5. Fake Messiah (4:36)
6. Grace (3:57)
7. Broken Hands (3:55)
8. Dead Seeds (3:43)
9. Everything To Nothing (3:52)
10. Choke Sermon (3:23)
11. Reclamation (7:07)

Reviewed by on February 27, 2009

"When it comes to technical skills and writing riffs that hook, it isn't a far stretch to consider 'Wrath' one of the top album's of 2009."

Lamb of God's “Wrath” starts softly. A lone acoustic guitar in all it's raw glory – right down to the unpolished squeaks bridging fingers to strings to frets – opens “The Passing” with a series of arpeggiated chords that nearly transend all sense of time.

When joined by the heavier, but harmonic prettiness of a clean electric alongside a complimentary bass line and simple percussion 30 seconds in, the core of the track retains its peacefulness, but with the heavy burden of silenced impatience trapped within. Until the final note, when everything backs up in a single moment as if getting sucked into a black hole.

Then it hits.

It's kind of like an aneurysm you like. If, of coure, aneurysms didn't kill you. But don't heed my words, “In Your Words” is what'll get you. It's aggressive, it's gritty, and it's great; and, when taken in right after “The Passing,” gives but a small idea of what “Wrath” has in store.

In an official statement prior to “Wrath's” release, drummer Chris Adler stated, “Typically bands that get to where we are in our career begin to slack off, smell the roses, and regurgitate. We chose a different path.”

“There’s some more melody that people won’t be used to,” bassist John Campbell elaborated in an exclusive interview with Bass Player Magazine. “The songs are really dynamic... This is our thrashiest record in a long time.”

Throwing a horns up to old-school thrash is memorable to the stylization of “Wrath,” to say the least. For me, “Grace” was the anthem of the album, much like “Redneck” was to 2006's “Sacrament” and “Now You've Got Something to Die For” in 2004's “Ashes of the Wake.”

And while “Wrath” certainly posseses the trademark jackhammer hits of Adler's percussion skills and the crazy hard-edged technicality of guitar duo Mark Morton and Willie Adler – not to mention bassist-extraordinaire Campbell keeping up with those mad machine gun riffers – the band's fifth studio album certainly reinforces the Virgina-based quintet's reluctance to slack off.

Especially kickin' is Campbell's bass breakdown mid-“Contractor.” Coupled only with some serious guitar feedback until vocalist Randy Blythe brings the song into a different groove than the mania that proceeded only moments earlier, it's the perfect example for why Lamb of God is widely considered one of the best metal bands in America. When it comes to technical skills and writing riffs that hook, it isn't a far stretch to consider “Wrath” one of the top album's of 2009.

Nowhere near as refined in the production department as “Sacrament,” the inclusion of Josh Wilbur in the producer's chair has helped Lamb of God capture one of their finest moments and illustrates metal as an entity of pure passion, not just countless hours holed up in a studio nitpicking and splicing riffs. Topping it off, each instrument can be heard distinctly: Blythe's evolution as a vocalist is apparent and crashes through any barricades that previously existed bringing his rage and range even more dynamically across the musical planes of insanity, plus, not a beat feels lost from Adler, and just as much focus is placed on Campbell's bass as it is on Willie Adler and Morton's guitars, which are easily recognized as two completely different entities.

If there was one complaint, it would be the outro to “In Your Words.” The song gets a little lost in the end, resorting to repetition of the same riff, until it finally closes with the lingering excess of guitar chords once played; however, that said, it does grow on you, so perhaps “complaint” isn't really the right word.

Highs: Check out the shredtastic guitar solo on "Everything To Nothing."

Lows: The press copy didn't come with the code you can enter to win in the band's "Escape the Plague" contest.

Bottom line: Trust me: you want to hear Lamb of God's "Wrath."

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)