Review Summary: Ashes of the Wake stands firmly as one of the strongest moments in Lamb of God’s career.
In their 2004 release, Lamb of God has tightened every possible loose aspect found on their earlier records. Most importantly, the vocals of Randy Blythe are very focused and articulate, something he aspired to, but not wholly managed on their previous effort As the Palaces Burn
. The dual guitar work of Mark Morton and Willie Adler originates from the cold forests of Scandinavia, while infused with an American rage recalling influence Pantera
and their likes. The drumming of Chris Adler complements the forefront perfectly and lays a bone-crushing groundwork. And yeah, I guess there’s a bass somewhere in the mix, too. One would probably notice the lack of power without it, but Campbell doesn’t act as more than a supporting pillar for the guitarists.
The opening tracks of Ashes of the Wake
surpass the usual one-two punch and extend it to a five finger death punch. Laid to Rest
, their arguably most popular song to date, is without a doubt one of the (if not the) best song on the entire album. Ominous melodies, a technical rhythm section worthy of reverence and a killer collection of riffs earn this song the status it has. The following Hourglass
further explores their Scandinavian technicalities. Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
is, as Blythe himself has stated, “…our version of a little emo sing-along.” The eponymous chant is instantly rememberable, once again backed by furious riffing and a strong backing section. The Faded Line
bears musical similarities to “Hourglass” in its melodic and galloping guitars. Following a statement of the code of honour, Omerta
is arguably the heaviest song on the record, bearing a main riff fit for a breakdown (which the song, like most tracks on this album, features.) The middle section of Ashes
is relatively disappointing, relatively being the key word here for while none of these cuts are inherently bad, they do not live up to the standard set by the opening tracks. However, the second to last song, the title track, is a step up to this quality. An instrumental, interesting riffs are interspersed with audio clips from an interview with ex-Marine Jimmy Massey regarding the war in Iraq (this is not the only political song here; earlier tracks touch upon this subject.) Featuring guest solos by Alex Skolnick and Chris Poland alongside their own Mark Morton, this is one of the most impressive tracks of Ashes
, while also being the longest (clocking in at 5:45.) The closing Remorse Is For the Dead
is standard-fare Lamb of God, and in comparison to previous cuts, does not stand out.
This may be the second most accessible Lamb of God record to date (the first being their follow-up Sacrament
, released in 2006.) The high production values and the remarkably memorable choruses of certain cuts all help to establish this statement. But make no mistake, Ashes of the Wake
is a violent assault on your senses. There is little to no reprieve from the double-kick drums and the chugging guitars that will pummel their way through your speakers. It is in no way a record that intentionally leans toward the more commercial aspects of the industry. Though bearing the label metalcore, this is not melodic metalcore along the lines of Killswitch Engage
or early Avenged Sevenfold
(bear note; I do not despise these bands, I merely punctuate the difference.) This is metalcore of smoking barrels. This is a metalcore record that stands just a cut above all else.
Laid to Rest
Now You've Got Something to Die For