[25 January 2012]
During the past decade, Lamb of God has become one of the most prolific American metal bands in the world. If not for the realities of time and a flagging music industry, Lamb of God would likely compete with the Big Four (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax) in terms of popularity. Those two factors are the only things preventing the Virginia-based group from being included with the most famous bands in all of American metal. With six ground-breaking albums behind them (including one under their former name Burn the Priest), a remarkably stable line-up, and one of the most supportive fan bases in the world, Lamb of God is one of the only bands that manages to get bigger with each new release. Their newest album, Resolution, will definitely continue that trend, with even more destructive compositions for the listening pleasure of their fans.
Resolution is at once both a progressive album and a back-to-basics album for Lamb of God. Progression takes many forms on Resolution, but it’s clear that Lamb of God wanted to try new things. The pseudo-singing vocal style that D. Randall Blythe used on “Redneck” and “Set to Fail” from past albums re-appears on multiple songs this time around, most notably on the opening verse of “Insurrection” and the chorus of “The Number Six”. Upon reading this, some might cry sellout, but upon listening to it, the adjusted style makes sense and works perfectly. Additionally, the group’s compositional style takes a few interesting turns into rarely-explored and brand new territories. “Cheated” has the same old-school punk rock style of “Contractor” from 2009’s Wrath, although its opening countdown will likely remind many listeners of the Pantera classic “Fuckin’ Hostile” more. “Terminally Unique” opens with an incredible math metal section that utilizes the same style as prog veterans Between the Buried and Me. Closing track “King Me” adds an orchestral backing to an already-towering song, resulting in a phenomenal soundscape that is both breathtaking and unexpected. These developments are great signs for the future of Lamb of God.
At the same time, though, the return to the band’s roots is welcome and enjoyable. Both “Guilty” and “Visitation” bear striking similarity to the overall style of 2003’s As the Palaces Burn, only with better sound production. Much of the rest of the album is similar in style to either 2004’s Ashes of the Wake or Wrath, with small sections reminiscent of 2006’s Sacrament. “The Undertow” is one of the best songs that the band has ever recorded, and “Desolation” is an immediate reminder of why no band can duplicate Lamb of God’s sound, especially their completely unique guitar tone. The order of the songs makes a lot of sense too, preventing any potential boredom or feeling of the music dragging.
Overall, is Resolution the best Lamb of God album to date? No, that title belongs to the disgustingly perfect Ashes of the Wake, with the monstrously heavy As the Palaces Burn following in a close second. But is Resolution an excellent album with plenty of great things to offer? Unequivocally yes. Now, the hype for Resolution will probably be just as big as it was for Wrath, with some dubbing it the Album of the Year when the new year has barely begun. I reserve judgment on that, considering that new albums from Meshuggah, Tool, Slayer, and many others are still pending for 2012. Nonetheless, Resolution deserves plenty of attention, and will earn Lamb of God even more much-deserved praise for their consistency and unfettered excellence.