In the mid-fall one of the most prominent groove metal bands Lamb of God has returned with the brand new record Omens, releasing it through Nuclear Blast and also Epic Records. It’s only been two years since their previous self-titled album was released, but the pandemic gave them some spare time to focus on the new music instead of active touring.
If we consider their previous band Burn the Priest, Lamb of God is almost 30 years old, and of course, they have made a significant impact to the development of groove metal genre. Their American roots emphasize the southern elements that prevail in their music even now. There’s no doubt that their music was heavily influenced by the latest releases of Pantera, but today Lamb of God stand confidently on their own; many young bands now are influenced by their albums, so we can place Lamb of God among the classic hardcore/groove metal legends (they are one of the prominent members of new wave of American heavy metal). They continue to evolve their previous ambitions, adding some extra melodies, punky attitude or atmospheric vibes, so their music has become more holistic and open-minded. But without experimental gist, the path they chose is very direct, and currently we can hear sombre echoes of pensive maturity that is still tinged with an adventurous spirit. It seems like Lamb of God follow the rule “forever young”, and with this attitude they will always be in trend. And even the haters disappeared, that were ferociously active ten years ago and more, dissing this band into the category of too mainstream kinda motherfucka’.
The trial of their singer Randy Blythe in 2012-2013 was very exhausting for the band, so long-shorted hiatus followed, giving everyone a chance to accumulate energy in order to focus their minds on the music. It was dark and strenuous time, but Randy won the case and didn’t break; on the contrary, it appears that he underwent drastic transformation, gathering his strength to enrich Lamb of God’s spirit with strenuous efficacy and psychological maturity. Now it seems it’s not only their desire to spread their musical word, it’s a need; it’s a painful and unswerving shout against social inequality, political scum and inner demons that we are forced to suppress. Lyrically this band was always straightforward and bold, but now there’s no chaotic hesitations left, only harsh and comprehensive hunger to act. And musically too, something inexorably powerful has entered the very core of Lamb of God’s mind. And it’s up to everyone how to react on this new massive wall of emotional balance and impregnable directness.
Omens is a slow continuation of their previous self-titled album, but even more equable and with virile invincible potency. And this masculine energy makes it angrier and heavier in a static way; however atmospheric background smooths out monotonous perception, so without doubt, Lamb of God’s ninth studio album won’t pass as something dreary or ordinary. Over the years this American groove metal band has mastered their fears, and now with total control over the band’s mental state, there’s no way back, only forward. The bands like Lamb of God now are in charge of groove metal’s evolution.
Lamb of God didn’t enter a progressive era, but with every new record this transparent sophistication and harmonious implementation of epiphanies almost hints on some kind of technical protection. But the foundation is very core-based, and not a single surprise or innovation can destroy this iron will of hardcore spirit. Even the melodic frenzy, sweet and aggressive at the same time, especially audible through the tracks “Checkmate” or “Gears”. Typical grooviness is often diluted with mischievous metalcore (or even melodic death) elements or thrash metal craziness (“Routes”). But this classical groove/metalcore formula still holds the reins, like their traditional “Nevermore” or “Ill Designs”. We can trace some eighties vibes, when hardcore/punk scene was blooming with nihilistic vigour, noticing dynamic and speedy “Bloodshot Eyes”. The most technical parts belong to short, but elaborated guitar solos, but the riffs, in turn, are responsible for catchy bluntness, coloring the songs with raw and radical wave of power. “Resurrection Man” invites us to an atmospheric and pensive realm, while the last “On the Hook” even implies at symphonic background. And almost every song has some anxiety issues, the tension is nearly palpable, infecting our minds and encouraging us to leave our comfort zone. And with this level of noisy heaviness, the sound is absolutely pure, and it’s no wonder, with Josh Wilbur as a producer (and a big professional team of audio engineers)!
With Omens Lamb of God decided once again to return to the tradition of bright and thorough graphic artworks (made by K3n Adams), full of symbolical meaning. This new album has become far more labyrinthine and mature, drawing an analogy with their music – from meticulous attitude to details and coloristics or the arrangement of objects. The same is true for the musical content – every experimental part is carefully considered and placed into general pattern of sounds, never threatening Lamb of God’s devotion to traditional groove metal.
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