Lamb Of God
ASHES OF THE WAKE
At the Cleveland Ozzfest, I asked Lamb Of God vocalist Randy Blythe if it felt like it had been over a decade since his band (then called Burn The Priest) had been making music. In typical “Randy” fashion, he answered, “brother, it seems like a decade since we last released a record.” Indeed! So much has happened since the release of their last record, AS THE PALACES BURN. The album, released about 15 months ago, saw this band go from being underground heroes to becoming a major force in heavy music, culminated by their recent signing with Epic Records. Clearly, they are a million miles away from the small Richmond club scene where they first came from.
But the key question is that which we pose to all extreme bands that sign with major labels – will the label force them to town down? After several dozen listens to ASHES OF THE WAKE, the answer is a resounding “F*ck No”. Intense, tight and astounding, ASHES OF THE WAKE not only showcases growth in the band, but maintains the heritage sound they developed on the last two releases. From the opening of “Laid To Rest” through the final strains of “Remorse Is For The Dead”, you realize that this is one band that deserved the promotion up from the independent ranks. This album is not only played with the most reckless abandon of the band’s career, but also features the tightest performances and the crispest sound the band has ever captured. By far, especially when compared to the somewhat lacking production of AS THE PALACES BURN, ASHES OF THE WAKE showcases a band who is hitting their stride at a perfect time.
Easily, the strength of this band relies in the prolific guitar playing of Mark Morton and Will Adler. These guys, along with the guitar players on the new Shadows Fall release, are creating some brilliantly memorable riffs. What’s cool about the work on this release is the way that the sound stays somewhat modern, while still incorporating a bigger, almost power metal riff style on some tracks, like “Ashes Of The Wake”. It’s a very cool, very accessible yet heavy as hell style that is most appealing.
Equally impressive is the vocal presence of Blythe. By far, his work on ASHES is the most consistent of his career. Where on older records, he was a uni-directional screamer, he has now discovered the full ability of his voice and uses all of it on this release. He rages throughout, but comes down an octave on occasion to increase the dramatic sound of each and every song. Sure, he’s still a vocalist that teeters on the virge of death metal, but now he does so with more charisma than ever before.
PITRIFF RATING – 8/10 – A very impressive major label debut from a band that’s more than worthy of a promotion. Clearly, Lamb Of God has arrived. It’s up to the record buying public to give them the success they deserve. ASHES OF THE WAKE deserves any accolade you can bestow on it.