Still Echoes of Their Screams.
Yo, this be Reuben. Taken me a while to review this one, eh. Ah well.
From the redneck lands of Virginia, Lamb of God have sent waves through the music scene with their face-kicking, pube-ripping metal since their breakthrough release, Laid to Rest. Since the late 90’s, this American metal band have nailed exactly the riff-meistering groove-thrash metal hybrid and VII: Sturm und Drang delivered another good record in their already awesome discography.
In this 2015 record, the metal is raw and heavy, as always. The band was in top form following the brilliance of Resolution, with Chris Adler again proving to be one of the very best drummers around, with his expertly crafted pounding beats taking hold of Sturm und Drang just as much as its predecessor.
Moreover, Randy Blythe is just as aggressive and stylistic as always, again, proving that he is one of the very best vocalists around. And although not quite so mind-numbingly amazing, the guitar and bass totally get the job done and more with their constant power — with some pretty neat guitar licks being added in for good measure.
Sturm und Drang is definitely a record with its highlights. In the brutal opening five tracks, we are given unrelenting and fantastically consistent groove machines to evoke all sorts of moshing and stupid grins. In particular, Still Echoes and 512 stand as the album’s perfect leading singles as they stand as a couple of the band’s best songs. Also, some may not appreciate it, but ol’ Chino Moreno (of Deftones fame) gives a luvly li’l vocal input in Embers, which works surprisingly well and stands as one of the best minute-and-a-half’s of the album.
However, after being graced with the mastery of Still Echoes through Footprints, we are met by what I think is Lamb of God‘s worst song to date, Overlord. I see exactly what they are doing with the song, as the slow western vibe has a lot of potential, but it just isn’t executed right; Blythe’s clean singing is wimpy, the melodic power that should be there just isn’t, and it is just a bit of a crappy mix match, as the transitions between quiet and heavy just don’t flow — I mean, the last two minutes or so could be a cool metal song in themselves as it kicks in, but as a part of Overlord it’s about as out of place as the rest of it. It’s just a bit crap, and 6 minutes long. Not worth it.
After that, it’s pretty much business as usual (as we are told in Engage the Fear Machine). Even so, whether it’s just the bitter taste from Overlord still lingering or not, I reckon the last few tracks are definitely weaker than the ones preceding that crappy milestone. Sure, Anthrapoid and the lot are heavy beasts themselves, but they don’t do anything spectacular and the melodies are noticeably weaker than in the album’s early gems.
The fact may be, though, that its the production talking here. It’s the worst thing about Sturm und Drang and it makes it all seem that little bit cheaper, as it’s a muffled and distant mix that’s their worst since those heady days of As the Palaces Burn. Some less mid-range and a bit more treble and I’m sure it could be forgiven, but this mix is poor and it brings the album down somewhat significantly.
At the end of the day, VII: Sturm und Drang ultimately represents a dip in quality for the band, especially since the awesomeness of Resolution, as with its poor mix and most prominently the presence of Overlord on the thing; but it remains a perfectly good listen with its bludgeoningly heavy riffs, expert delivery from Blythe and Adler, and a few real stand-out tracks on its first half. This won’t go down in history, but it’s certainly worth a listen.
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