If you’ve been following the Lamb Of God story over the past few years, then you’ll know why ‘VII: Sturm Und Drang’ (a German expression for storm and stress) is a very fitting title. The Virginia groove metallers’ vessel has been through some very trying waters, and they’ve come out the other side a stronger crew.
In 2012, vocalist Randy Blythe went through three days in prison, and a long gruelling court process to clear his name and come to terms with the death of a fan; ‘Sturm Und Drang’ puts all of this behind the band, as the final word on the matter. While it would’ve been easy to write an entire record about those dark days, only two tracks – ‘512’ and ‘Still Echoes’ – are about the experience (Blythe has said that a “prison album” would be taking advantage of the situation). However, its subject matter is just as driven, furious, and distressed as we’d expect after that storm. Out of one of the most trying times in any band’s career comes one of Lamb Of God‘s most triumphant outings, and for a seventh record ‘Sturm Und Drang’ is surprisingly refreshing.
First of all, Blythe‘s lyrics have once again improved, and on the aforementioned ‘512’, he screams “My hands are painted red / My future’s painted black”. ‘Delusion Pandemic’ describes the disillusion created by technology as “A generation of mockingbirds feeding themselves to the worms”, before going on a really pissed spoken word rant (which you’ll want to scream at every self-entitled brat wasting time on Vine). His lyrics and accurate critiques on humanity are why his opinion is held so highly in the metal world.
But it’s not just Blythe‘s pen being put to work here, the band are on form to bring you some damn fine Lamb Of God riffage, as you can tell from technical chaos that opens the album on ‘Still Echoes’, and the headbang-inducing ‘Erase This’. Chris Adler proves why his name is now engraved into heavy metal drumming as he glues together signature grooves, proving that the guitar duo of Willie Adler and Mark Morton can pump out those thick southern riffs on cue.
If you want straight-up brutal tracks with no surprises then all of the aforementioned tracks will tick the box, reminding you of older records like ‘Ruin’ and ‘Ashes Of The Wake’ (especially that breakdown in ‘Delusion Pandemic’). However, if you want ‘Sturm Und Drang’ to offer you something a little different, then Lamb Of God can sort you out with a little help from their friends.
‘Echoes’ ends very melodically with gorgeous additional vocals from Deftones‘ main man Chino Moreno, whilst The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s own Greg Puciato adds some blood-pumping assistance to closer ‘Torches’. Both unique vocalists are great choices, and nail their appearances.
The biggest departure from the norm is ‘Overlord’, the ‘softest’ that Lamb Of God have ever gone and, while it’s uncharted waters, the band still guide the vessel with conviction. It’s clear that heavy or not, screaming or singing, the band’s stronger-than-all songwriting is what makes them great. Who knows? This melodic approach could be the future of Lamb Of God.
Written by Jack King (@Jackingy)
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.