Lamb of God
VII: Sturm und Drang
A brutal, engaging and masterful release – Lamb of God has used it’s latest release as a vice for expressing the anger, loneliness and fear which has been prominent amongst its band members, not least for its frontman Randy Blythe.
Originally published in Reverb Magazine.
Lamb of God experienced tragic and tumultuous times over the past few years – not least because of frontman Randy Blythe’s very public trial on manslaughter charges. After being exonerated from the charges, Blythe turned his anger and frustration into musical expression, the end result being VII: Sturm und Drang, Lamb of God’s seventh studio album.
A complex and carefully crafted release, the album (literally translated as ‘Storm and Stress’) focuses on diverse themes and even includes clean vocal pieces not usually known within the American heavy metal genre. From the politically themed (Torches) to the historically archived (Still Echoes, Anthropoid), the album dabbles in the classic Lamb of God musical style and tells complex stories with an intelligent focus.
The most personal of all songs is evident in 512 – a reference to Blythe’s cell number when detained in a Czech prison. As with the other songs on the album, the song is also carefully constructed, making only references to Blythe’s cell experience rather than a lyrical attack on the legal system that let him down. Lines such as “My hands are painted red. My future’’s painted black” evoke bleak feelings of despair, failure and lost hope. A deeply personal experience shared so publicly is worthy of recognition, and the song is undoubtedly a standout on the album.
Of the more ‘controversial’ musical experiences, Blythe took the unusual step of recording clean vocals of his own, including a tandem performance with Deftones frontman, Chino on Embers. But whilst the hype over Blythe’s choice to showcase a more progressive style (particularly in a genre where brutality is evident in the vocal and musical delivery), the clean vocals are anything but disruptive. In fact, they are a welcomed deflection from the Lamb of God familiar to us all and perhaps just a symptom of the uncertainly the entire band experienced over the past two years.
Musically, the rest of the band demonstrate their continued ability to match their singer’s furious diatribes with the iconic precision they are famous for. Their ability to produce such sharp, powerful performances are enough to make your hair stand on end. If anything, VII: Sturm und Drang is the consequence of a band that is more focused than ever. A fantastic release that emanates the energy that makes Lamb of God a standout in their field.
© Lilen Pautasso