NUCLEAR BLAST 2015
Lamb of God’s latest album VII: Sturm Und Drang comes three years after their previous album Resolution. That’s been a pretty typical timeline for the band, but this album was anything but typical. Frontman Randy Blythe faced up to a decade in prison after being accused of manslaughter following the death of a fan at a concert in the Czech Republic. He spent more than a month incarcerated in Prague after being charged, and was eventually completely exonerated.
As Blythe has said, this isn’t a “prison album,” but he and the entire band were affected by that experience, which naturally translates to their music. The opening track “Still Echoes” is one of two related to Blythe’s prison experience. The lyrics address the history of Pankrac prison. It’s a potent opener with memorable riffs from guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler and passionate vocals from Blythe.
Sturm Und Drang is a German expression that means “storm and stress.” That’s an apt title for the album, which boils down everything the band has been through over the past few years into a compact, tight and razor sharp record. The typical Lamb Of God aggression is present, but there’s plenty of diversity as well.
Blythe adds some melodic singing, most notably on “Overlord.” It’s the longest song on the album, clocking in at over six minutes. Blythe’s crooning is solid, giving the first half of the track a grunge vibe before full metal mode kicks in and the singing turns to screaming, then mellows back out towards the end.
The intensity rachets back up with the intense but catchy “Anthropoid” and the groovy “Engage The Fear Machine,” which finds Blythe railing on the media’s scare tactics.
There are a couple guest appearances on the album. Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato lends his talents to the closing track “Torches,” which is about a young Czech anti-Communist protestor who set himself on fire in 1969 and became a symbol for the opposition.
Puciato’s appearance fits in well with the album’s flow, while the other guest doesn’t mesh as seamlessly. Chino Moreno from Deftones sings on “Embers,” and while the performance is fine, it sounds a little out of place.
VII: Sturm Und Drang is a focused and energetic album from one of the genre’s biggest names, with Lamb Of God adding another top-notch release to their catalog that now goes back nearly 20 years.
By Chad Bowar "Heavy Metal Expert"