Release Date: Feb 24, 2009
Record label: Sony
Genre(s): Rock, Metal
Drummer Chris Adler has said their fifth album will ”surprise a lot of people,” scaring fans who thought the groove-metal band’s last record already succumbed to (gasp!) accessibility. Diehards may again be disappointed by the acoustic intro to Wrath‘s closing track, ”Reclamation,” and the subtle nods to melody throughout. But c’mon, Randy Blythe’s demonic bark, Adler’s chain-gun rhythms, and the ferocious chug-chug-chug-squeal guitar riffing are all vintage Lamb of God — and that’s a good thing, if you like the rough stuff.
Lamb of God's follow-up to 2006's exceptionally brutal Sacrament returns the Virginia-based heavy metal outfit to the political soapbox that framed 2004's Ashes of the Wake. While Sacrament positioned itself firmly in the metalcore section of fan playlists, 2009's Wrath wraps itself in a relentless firestorm of Bay Area thrash. Despite a promising, heavily melodic instrumental intro ("The Passing") that fuses Black Album-era Metallica with the sonic artistry of Agalloch, Wrath ultimately descends into a black abyss of atonal riffing, machine-gun drumming, and forgettable lyrics peppered with clichéd metal outrage that stirs up a mighty storm, but no carnage.
Regarded as one of the leaders of a resurgence of new American metal early this decade, Lamb of God chose to leave the innovation to the Mastodons, Dillinger Escape Plans, and Pig Destroyers of the world, remaining within the comfy confines of a reliable musical template, the only deviations being the ones of the most subtle variety. What sounds safe and predictable to one metal fan sounds familiar and reliable to others, and although the Virginia band continues to flirt with sounding horribly repetitive, they do deserve full credit for coming out with albums that always manage to please their legions of fans. However, despite the strengths of such popular albums as 2003’s As the Palaces Burn, 2004’s Ashes of the Wake, and 2006’s Sacrament, each one incrementally increasing Lamb of God’s stature among the metal crowd, it’s never felt like they’re willing to truly swing for the fences.