Written by Alex Stojanovic
New Colossal Hate
Poison Dream (feat. Jamey Jasta)
Routes (feat. Chuck Billy)
On The Hook
Release Date: June 19, 2020
Label: Epic Records
Randy Blythe - Vocals / Mark Morton - Lead guitars / Willie Adler - Rhythm guitars
John Campbell - Bass / Art Cruz - Drums
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Every one of the band's records featured the original lineup (minus the Burn The Priest record). If you're a band that has had the original lineup since the first record, and you've been around for so long, and you release a record that has a lineup change, there's certainly going to be some trepidation amongst longtime fans, especially when that member who is gone was an integral part of the band's sound. It's certainly going to be weird seeing them without Chris behind the kit. It's kind of the equivalent of seeing Rush without Neil Peart. He will certainly be missed in Lamb Of God, but new drummer Art Cruz, who is a monster drummer, does a great job at filling the massive shoes Chris left behind. He pays homage to Chris, but he brings his own style to the table as well.
However, the record is still unmistakably Lamb Of God. Randy Blythe has lost nothing off his identifiable growl. "Memento Mori" starts with a really eerie intro, and Randy goes into a really low crooning voice that sounds really haunting, before exploding without warning, into a furious but familiar Lamb Of God type groove with lethal riffs from Mark Morton and Willie Adler. The breakdown where it transitions into a more straightforward metal type groove is one of my favourite moments on the whole record, and it will undoubtedly get people banging furiously when played live. The lyrics were probably written sometime last year, but they're very timely, because they talk about the dangers of taking everything the media says literally, and how it can ruin (no pun intended) you.
As songwriters, the band are most certainly still in their comfort zone, but they always manage to sneak in some new twists, so we don't always get 10-11 versions of "Walk With Me In Hell", or "Laid To Rest" or "Redneck". The thrash and groove elements that the band have become known for smack the listener just as hard as ever, especially on tracks like "Reality Bath", "Resurrection Man", "New Colossal Hate" and "Bloodshot Eyes". The latter is one of the songs where Randy gets to use his melodic voice a little more, but it doesn't outweigh his aggressive voice. I always said that Randy should use his melodic voice some more because he's got a great one, so there's no reason to let it collect dust.
"Routes" is a personal favourite of mine, simply due to the fact that it's fast and thrashy, but it also features Chuck Billy from Testament makes a guest appearance, singing the chorus with his haunting melodic voice, but I do wish that Chuck had the opportunity to use his death voice. The record closes with "On The Hook", which is the most intense song on here, featuring some fast thrash drumming, and blast beats. Things get pulled back by a couple of notches in the middle, but the song ends with Randy screaming "kill them all" like a psychopath whose head is about to explode.
There will be many people that will love this record, and there will be people that are going to hate. My guess is that the hate will come from three perspectives: a). that it's just another meat-and-potatoes Lamb Of God album, b). that it doesn't live up to the old stuff (which is a common complaint for many bands' new albums), and c). that it's not Lamb Of God without Chris Adler. My only complaint is that I think the album could've used one more song where Randy's melodic voice was a little more prominent like on "Overlord" or "The Duke". 20 years after the release of New American Gospel, Lamb Of God prove that they are still the unstoppable force they started out as. It may seem like a new beginning, but where their journey takes them from here, we look forward to seeing and hearing. One of the most essential releases of 2020.
Lows: Could've used one more song with Randy's melodic voice being a more prominent focus.
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