It’s been a turbulent few years for Richmond’s Lamb Of God, particularly for vocalist, Randy Blythe. After being arrested in Prague on June 27th 2012, for pushing a fan off the stage who hit his head on the floor and later died of his injuries, the band subsequently incurred a 2 year break from touring and recording.
The output from this time off, 2015’s full-length output ‘Sturm und Drang’, was a remarkable return to form considering this difficult period of time, and enabled the band to head back out on the road appearing at a number of high profile festivals.
‘The Duke’ marks what could be perceived as a stop gap EP between records, adding a couple of new tracks plus three live songs from ‘Sturm und Drang’. The first of these new tracks, ‘The Duke’, shows a very different sound to the normal Lamb Of God fare. A delicate introduction makes way for a clean and melodic vocalled verse from Blythe, the kind of which was touched upon during the track ‘Overlord’ from the aforementioned previous record. This gives the overall feel of the track a relatively haunting atmosphere with a gently repeating guitar riff in the background. A decent guitar solo kicks in midway through, and Blythe‘s trademark snarls comes through.
The other new track, ‘Culling’, is a more trademark offering showcasing intricate riffing, harsh vocals and multiple layers of groove harking back to the ‘Ashes Of The Wake’ era. A thrilling but short drum solo towards the end of the track from Chris Adler segues brilliantly into the last run through of the chorus.
The three live tracks ‘Still Echoes’ (from Rock Am Ring), ‘512’ and ‘Engage The Fear Machine’ (both from Bonnaroo) crackle with vibrancy and demonstrate audibly what a force of nature Lamb Of God are live. The introduction to ‘512’ is an emotive statement from Blythe commenting on his time inside a Czech prison, and at regular intervals his crowd interaction is seamless and completely in tune with the music.
The main focus here will be on that self-titled track, and will spur rumours of whether the band are to head in a new, more melodic direction for their next record. Regardless of the fact, ‘The Duke’ demonstrates melody, aggressiveness, groove, and technicality that should appeal to fans going into next year.
Written by Neil Criddle (@DJCriddz)