*Warning* - This review contains a few paragraphs of my random musings before getting into the good stuff. Scroll down 'til you see shorter blurbs if you feel like just getting into the meat and potatoes.
Over the past few years, there has been what I would call a schism in metal. Metal has always sort of been one of those genres of music where there is a divide among the hardcore fans as to what defines it at that point in time. Since the backlash against manstream metal took place, effectively ending the heydey of nu-metal, metal fans have been all over the map, as far as further splintering metal into more and more subcategories, pushing the purists far back into the underground.
Hence, the cycle is perpetuated. Metal is a strange genre, in the sense that it will spend most of it's time as fringe music, with very few casual music fans ever daring to venture too deep into the murkiness of heavy music. This is why a good majority of metal listeners are very into metal, it takes a special kind of person to get that deep into a fringe genre. It's exactly because of this that metal is indeed so divided and splintered into countless genres and subgenres today. Many hardcore fans refuse to believe that anyone else is more hardcore than them, so there is the constant push to find a band/sound that nobody else on your favourite music board has heard of. This makes metal cool again, because people will discard a tired sound, and scour the globe looking for the next sweet band that they can find before anyone else.
With that being said, every now and again, someone finds a band that is so undeniably talented, that a good portion of metal fans, from all subsects hear, love, and unite over them.
Metallica did it in the 80's, Pantera did it in the 90's, and now we have Lamb of God.
Based out of Richmond, Virginia, Lamb of God is a 5 piece outfit that has become the band that every metal fan knows, and in many cases, loves.
Sacrament is the newest offering from Metal's current heavyweight champs, and it has been gaining mixed reviews ever since the first single, "Redneck", hit the internet a few months ago. Coming off the well-loved Ashes of the Wake in 2004, and arguably one of the best metal albums in the past 10 years with 2003's As the Palaces Burn, expectation has been running high for Sacrament.
Coming in at about 45 minutes, give or take, Sacrament is NOT Ashes of the Wake, As the Palaces Burn, New American Gospel, or Burn the Priest. It is its' own entity, and listeners should be prepared for that, and ready to accept that.
One of the first things that stood out for me on this album was the sound. I don't know exactly how to describe it, but the album did not feel as raw to me as their previous efforts. Where ATPB was right in your face, Sacrament somehow feels more distant, more ambient. At the heart, this is still an album driven by technical licks, breakdowns, and balls-out riffing. The drums are standard fare for Lamb of God, which is to say they are always clean, and interesting enough patterns. We all know Chris is a good drummer, he doesn't need to show off his skills, which some may hate, but I enjoyed on this album.
A big complaint people had with previous Lamb of God offerings was that the typical song had the chugga-chugga riffs, interspliced every few bars with a technical fill. Those people will be happy to note that this formula is still used on this album, but it doesn't feel like it's used as much. The patterns range from really boring (the beginning of foot to the throat), to more complex, interesting (Walk with me in Hell, Pathetic). This is not to say that some songs suck, and others don't, they all cycle around the same old, but it still somehow feels different.
The most obvious difference, and the one that people will point out in every other comment on alot of boards, is Randy's vocals. Sure, on Redneck, we all heard him do his best Phil Anselmo impression, I won't argue with that. However, overall, the vocals aren't that bad, or even that different than before. For the majority of the album, it's still Randy, screaming his face off, albeit sometimes with a slightly different scream. Not that much of an issue.
Really, the album suffers the most, in my opinion, from the amount of hype that fans will have put on it. It's not as fresh as As the palaces Burn, or Ashes of the wake. If you want to hear one of those albums, listen to them, because this isn't either one. It does get better the more you listen to it, so don't give up, but it's not the instant classic that people were expecting.
Lamb of God isn't reinventing the wheel with this album, but it will gain them some new fans, while simultaneously losing others. For most of us who were already into them, its an enjoyable record, and will be in your player for a while.
Not instantly classic enough for a 5, but not as bad as the disappointed fanoys on the net would have you believe, either. I give it a 4.
- Overall, the pace feels pretty good, the songs flow nicely, and you will rock out to this album.
- They don't stray ridiculously far from previous sounds, so you don't have to stress over this being a turning point, and therefore the end of your love affair with Lamb of God
- You can tell that their playing keeps on getting better, so there's hope that the next album will be better than any of the others
- Sometimes, the effects seem really pointless, and make it sound kind of weird
- In some ways it feels like they overthought this album, so it never really has the same urgency that Lamb of God has delivered in the past. Nothing just hits you in the face on the first listen.
Sorry if this seems jumbled, or just plain sucks, it's my first review, and I didn't really want it to sound exactly like every other one on the site :)