Tag Archives: album

Wrath – Lamb of God [Review]

Wrath is the fifth full-length studio album by southern metalers Lamb of God. Released on February 24th under Epic Records, Roadrunner Records outside of North America.

lamb of god album art

Wrath. There’s a lot of things that have been floating around with album, and there’s been quite a fair amount of buzz (unsurprising since Lamb of God are of the most famous metal bands in the US today). Randy Blythe hasn’t said much about the album, other than it’s not going to be a slacker album, and will be much heavier than recent released by the Virginians.

Wrath is quite clearly and emphatically a Lamb of God album. They have not changed their sound much at all really, but they have stepped it up a notch (or, a few notches from Sacrament). The guys seem to be in tip top metal shape for this effort, and I can really appreciate it.

As far as Lamb of God goes, there are really two “eras” – the early days and the later stuff. The first two albums were really rough and abrasive, and didn’t really have great production. The later two albums lost most of the abrasive sound for more groove riffs and stellar production. Wrath really is a genuine example of the perfect middle ground of these two. Lamb of God have gotten back to the face-tearing, genital-crushing sound they used to have, except it no longer sounds as though it was recorded in a tin can.

The album starts out with a very cliché acoustic guitar part that is okay. From there, they kick in the guitars with overdrive with the heart-wrenching weepy guitars. Just like every other metal album before it (fine, that’s an exaggeration, but we have all heard this a thousand times). While cliché, this is totally different than anything Lamb of God has delivered us before. The track immediately following it is similar, where we get to hear some vocal timbre that Blythe has not used. From the start it is quite obvious they’re taking Wrath in a different direction.

Following the tastes of new stuff are the first singles from the album, “Contractor” and “Set to Fail” – these songs are more up Lamb of God’s alley, and sound like something that could have been lifted straight from As The Palaces Burn or Ashes of the Wake. The rest of the album is still obviously Lamb of God material, but seems to have a bit more attitude and “fuck you” to it.

The last track on the album, “Reclamation” is a great pure metal ending track for an album. The sound of the crashing waves in the beginning/end paired with the down-tuned acoustic guitars is a great sound. A 7:05 epic to close out the beast that is this album, and it is more perfect than I could have ever imagined, employing a lot of interesting guitar work not featured in the rest of the album – from the harmonies to the melodies, it all has a different mood about it, perhaps one of a less aggressive and hateful mood, but more of a depressed yet hopeful mood.

As far as instrumentation goes, Chris Adler is bringing it as hard as ever on this album, and keeps climbing the ranks of metal drummers out there today (still has a long way to go, however – gotta get some speed and more technicality in there). Willie Adler and Mark Morton really aren’t impressing me any more than before, other than the guitar work in “Fake Messiah” – now that’s some good work, boys. Speaking of guitar work, there are some damn fine solos on this album. The best of said solos appear in “Set to Fail” – that solo melts face.

All in all, this album is the best effort from Lamb of God to date, in my estimations. They have finally gotten their sound down, and it feels so natural, as opposed to the forced feel of Sacrament and the practice-session feel of New American Gospel. From start to finish, this album delivers the goods – in a coarse and brutal package. Wrath is right, Lamb of God – you nailed it on this one.

Track picks: “Set to Fail” and “Broken Hands”

Overall score: 9/10 devil horns

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Evisceration Plague – Cannibal Corpse [review]

Evisceration Plague is the eleventh studio album from Buffalo (New York) natives Cannibal Corpse. The album release date is February 3, 2009 on Metal Blade records.

Cannibal Corpse Evisceration Plague

Having been a fan of Cannibal Corpse for a long time now, I was EXTREMELY satisfied with their last release, Kill. Alex Webster has been quoted as saying “In Cannibal Corpse, our goal has always been to try and make each new album we record our heaviest. That goal was a bit more challenging this time since we were extremely satisfied with our last album Kill, but we knew that by working with producer Erik Rutan at Mana Recording Studios again, we would be able to start at that same level of heaviness and take it even further. Now that we can hear the finished product, I would say we’ve been able to achieve this goal, and I think our fans will agree. ‘Evisceration Plague’ has the best guitar sound we’ve ever recorded, and the entire band has never played with more precision and power. We can’t wait until you all get a chance to hear the album in early 2009, because we think you’ll be as happy with it as we are.”[1]

Now, I can’t say that he’s entirely right, but this album is definitely close to on par with Kill. It has the same crushing riffs that Cannibal Corpse always employ, and they have simply more finely tuned the sound for this album.

Straight from the first crushing track of the album, “Priests of Sodom”, this album is overpowering. It’s an all-out aural assault, really. This is not to say, however, that it is difficult to listen to. This album is simply made to sound huge. More big and loud than you can imagine. 10,000 marshall stacks loud. The greatest part about the production is the mere fact that no clipping occurs, all of the instruments are balanced, and it is not tiring to pick out each band member in the mix – until you get to the mini guitar solos. The small guitar solos featured on the album are somewhat buried. It appears that burying guitar solos a slight amount in the mix is becoming slightly more prevalent in the heavier, more brutal, styles of death metal (this includes, of course: Deathcore, Brutal Death, etc.). In terms of the “guitar sound” Alex mentioned, it’s true. The guitar sound on the album is fantastic. The rhythm guitar is absolutely crushing, and the lead guitar is crunchy, and sounds great in the shredding moments of the album.

In both Evisceration Plague and Kill the lyrical content has been a bit different than the lyrical content that Cannibal Corpse once had. It is easiest to see this by simply looking at the titles of their songs and albums. In their last two efforts, Cannibal Corpse have used less “Gore Obsessed” (sorry, could not help it) themes are less graphic. Still as brutal, but a little more serious.

Overall, Evisceration Plague is a good album – not great. It is a typically good release from Cannibal Corpse, almost their best to date. There was nothing overly awe-inspiring about the album, but is one hell of a listen.

Track picks: “Skewered from Ear to Eye”, “Unnatural”, and “Priests of Sodom” (it was hard to choose only three)

Overall Score: 8/10 Devil Horns

[1] CANNIBAL CORPSE: New Album Title, Track Listing Revealed – Nov. 3, 2008

The New Game – Mudvayne [Review]

The New Game is the fourth studio release from Nu/Alt. Metal band Mudvayne, released November 18, 2008 on Epic records.

Mudvayne the New Game

My first impression of this album is: clone of Lost and Found

Anything that could be said about Lost and Found can be pretty much said about this album. The only difference is that they seemed to get it right this time, as opposed to the pile of heaping feces that was Lost and Found. This does not by any means that it’s good, but it’s better. This is still a million miles behind L.D. 50 and The End of All Things to Come, but, I’ll break it down for you.

The best part of this album is that Mudvayne seemed to remember what groove and heaviness were on this album. Granted, they don’t use it to the full effect that they once did, but at least they got me a bit interested on the track “Have it Your Way” – though I am a bit ashamed to admit it. As always, Ryan Martinie is spot-on in his bass work. It’s a deep and technical as ever, but it doesn’t have the push, drive, or intensity it should. In fact, almost nothing has that raw energy that Mudvayne once possessed. There’s a little bit in the song “The Hate In Me” that reminds me of what this band is capable of, and what they should be doing. There are a few glimpses throughout the album, making me hate this album because they’re holding back (at least that’s what it sounds like).

Now, for the worst part of the album is the songwriting. It’s just plain boring. Unless you’re going to write something truly good, you can’t get away with plain songwriting. The only song on the album I exempt from this is “Dull Boy” – the lyrics aren’t so good, but this song is a good song. Actually, the lyrics are absolutely terrible. Like most of the other songs on the album. The groove in this song just past the opening vocals is plain dirty (in a good way).

This album simply sounds like they are underachieving, just as it did on Lost and Found. Maybe the second full album they have been quoted as saying will be released sixth months after this one will be better, but I do not have my hopes up. After all, I have little to nothing to say good about their last two releases. Oh well. Just another band I liked in the 90’s to suck now.

Track Picks: “Fish out of Water”

Overall score: 3/10 devil horns

underOATH – Lost in the Sound of Separation [Review]

Lost in the Sound of Separation is the sixth full-length studio album from the Solid State/Tooth & Nail act Underoath (or underOATH, or UNDERØATH). THe album was released September 2, 2008 (Us/Canada/Japan). The lineup for the album is the same as their last two releases, Define the Great Line and They’re Only Chasing Safety. This is another band that also falls in the horribly mundane and vague category of Christian Metalcore. The band has also been considered to be a post-hardcore band. In my opinion, the band floats in the grey area between the two genres.

Underoath Lost in the Sound of Separation

As with a few other reviews I have written, this is the first album I really sat down and listened to by Underøath. I did eventually listen to them, but this was their first of their albums I had been exposed to.

Upon my first listen, the album is sonically one of the best I’ve ever heard. There is simply no way to compare with this album in terms of the sound output. Take away what the music is and whether you like it or not, the production values on this album are perfect. Period. This is al album to be listened to with a nice pair of headphones, and deserves something far better than poorly compressed .mp3 file as you would get from say, the iTunes Music Store? Get yourself a nice pair of headphones and listen to this on a good vinyl setup if possible. It really is an experience.

Anyway, on to the music itself. Although I had not heard any full albums by Underøath before, I have herd songs. I sort of knew what to expect, but I had sort of discounted this band (regrettably) as another crappy screamo band, but with a little extra heavy. I was sadly mistaken. This band is a gargantuan band in terms of their musical performance. Great lyrics, and vocals that make me feel. Few voices I have ever heard have really spurred real emotion in me. Throughout Lost in the Sound of Separation I felt sadness, anger, hope, empathy, and so many more emotions. The rhythms and guitar melodies are always fresh, exciting, and interesting. The drummer doesn’t seem overly talented from what I heard on this record, but he sure as hell gets the job done.

The songwriting on this album is flawless as well. It feels like a gapless album when listening to it (well, other than the break between “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures” and “Too Bright to See, Too Loud to Hear” – that’s pretty obvious). The album really isn’t gapless, however, that is just how well put together the album is. Of course, they had to put the one song on the album that people who don’t like brutally heavy and raw music could enjoy… *cough cough* “Too Bright to See, Too Loud to Hear” *cough cough* Although it’s a good song, I wish that Underøath could just get rid of the soft, melodic songs they just stick into the albums. I guess it worked on the other albums, but it feels out of place on this album. At least it is at the end, and does a decent job at bringing the album to a calm, along with the last song (“Desolate Earth: The End is Near”). In my personal opinion, I would have been personally 100% content if the album had ended at the last note of “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”.

The last thing I want to address is the album artwork. Now, is it just me, or does Underoath always have the best album artwork? I don’t have the slightest clue about what this album art is all about, but it’s awesome. There’s also no way to discount the album art for They’re Only Chasing Safety or Define the Great Line.

All in all, I absolutely love this album, and it is one that every fan of raw, heavy music should OWN. Yes, own as in BUY. If not only because the album is great, then buy it for the opportunity to get the “golden ticket” that allows free passage to every Underøath show form now until forever.

Track picks: “Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed” and “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”

Overall score: 9.5/10 devil horns

The March – Unearth [Review]

The March is the fourth full-length release from Massachusetts metalcore band Unearth, their third release on Metal Blade records. The March is the first release with new drummer Derek Kerswill. The album was released October 14, 2008 official, but was leaked a few weeks prior to the release date.

Unearth The March

To be completely honest, I have been awaiting the drop if this album for a long time, and I had high hopes for it. VERY high hopes. Then I heard the first track of the album when it was added to the band’s myspace, and it was simply incredible. Now, I wish I could say the rest of the album is that ludicrous, but it’s not. Nor could it ever be. It’s simply that good. The rest of the album’s pretty good, too.

I’ll say this, it is their most metal release to date. They’ve moved closer yet to the metal scene with their latest release, only furthering the progress from III: In the Eyes of Fire (although, nothing is as metal as “Sanctity of Brothers” on this album). The biggest aid to this venture is what the new drummer adds. Overall, the sound of the drums, and the style of the rhythms, is more metal than hardcore. I think it suits the band, as Buz McGrath can write some pretty fantastic metal riffs (aforementioned “Sanctity of Brothers” is a good example).

As far as production goes, this album is your standard well done album. Nothing really sticks out as bad or good, and it serves it’s purpose. I did notice, however, that the bass is pretty much buried in most of the tracks, which I am personally indifferent about. I can’t say for sure how good the bass lines are on the album, but I will assume for now that is the reason that they are not too prominent in most places on the album.

Arguably the strongest attribute of this album is the songwriting and album composition. There is a lot of style in the construction of this album, and works well as a unit. The songs all run together seamlessly, but are clearly separate songs. The nature of the beast is the abrupt beginning and ending of almost every song, which is usually a no-no, but somehow these guys found a way to make the album move alright even when doing so. I feel that this could be attributed mostly to the abrupt nature of the music itself, even without all the breakdowns that Unearth used to feature on their albums (there are still a bunch, though).

The final thing I want to comment on are the guitar solos and harmonies. Though most people won’t pick up on this, the sweeps that start the album off are harmonized. That means? Yeah, you guessed it, two separate guitar parts. Then there’s the chugging behind it. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? The solos throughout this album really are fantastic, and tasteful at that. Contrary to popular practices, they’re not only tapping and sweeps at the fastest speeds the guitarist can play (don’t worry, though, Buz still melts some faces with some blisteringly fast shredding).

All in all, this album is a great listen, even though it falls off significantly after the first track. The guys from Unearth really brought everything to the table this time around, and now we get to enjoy the sonic feast they have prepared.

Track picks: “My Will Be Done”, “Letting Go” and “Cutsman”

Overall Score: 8 out of 10 devil horns