Written by Alex Stojanovic
Cross Off (feat. Chester Bennington)
Sworn Apart (feat. Jacoby Shaddix)
Axis (feat. Mark Lanegan)
The Never (feat. Chuck Billy & Jake Oni)
Save Defiance (feat. Myles Kennedy)
Blur (feat. Mark Morales)
Back From The Dead (feat. Josh Todd)
Reveal (feat. Naeemah Maddox)
The Truth Is Dead (feat. Alissa White-Gluz & Randy Blythe)
Release Date: March 1, 2019
Label: WPP Records/Spinefarm Records
Roy Mayorga (STONE SOUR) / David Ellefson (MEGADETH) / Ray Luzier (KORN) / Mike Inez (ALICE IN CHAINS)
Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent (TRIVIUM) / Jean-Paul Gaster (CLUTCH) / Steve Gorman and Marc Paul (BLACK CROWES)
The album sees Mark handling all the guitar duties, while enlisting the help of his friends, colleagues and idols in the music business to play on the record, like Ray Luzier of Korn, David Ellefson of Megadeth, Mike Inez of Alice In Chains, Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent of Trivium, and Roy Mayorga of Stone Sour just to name a few. He has also enlisted an array of guest vocalists to sing on the album, like Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, Chuck Billy of Testament, Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy, Mark Lanegran of Screaming Trees, Josh Todd of Buckcherry and Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach.
Aside from all these amazing guests appearing on the album, the guest that is undoubtedly the biggest talking and selling point is the late Chester Bennington, who lends his signature voice to the album's opening track "Cross Off". When this track was released to the public, fan reception was ecstatic, but there was also some bittersweet vibes. It's the fact that Chester's voice is heard on a new song, but it's also knowing that he's gone and we won't hear from him again, so hearing a brand new song with Chester's vocals is a moment that will need to be savored by everyone.
A couple of songs could easily be identified as a new Lamb Of God song before the vocals kick in. "The Truth Is Dead" in particular is the closest thing to that, mainly due to the fact that you hear Mark's unmistakable heavy rhythm tone, and his bandmate Randy Blythe is singing on it, along with Alissa White-Gluz. Both Randy and Alissa bring out both sides of their vocal abilities, which include their signature growls and majestic cleans, and both of them create a potent harmony in the chorus. If you were blindfolded, you'd think you were listening to a new Lamb Of God song with Alissa providing guest vocals.
For people that know me, it shouldn't be at all surprising to you when I say that one of my top track picks from the album is "The Never", and that is because of none other than Chuck Billy. To me, any song that Chuck touches with his vocals, is going to be amazing. Much like "The Truth Is Dead", this sneering beast of a track is another mid-paced chugger with double-kick and beastly vocals. The track also features Jake Oni of ONI on vocals. Chuck sings on a majority of the track, while Jake comes in during the middle section before the solo, and there's a moment in that section where they sing together.
"Sworn Apart" featuring Jacoby Shaddix is another highlight. The heavy riffing, coupled by fantastic melodic vocal hooks from Shaddix, and a very memorable chorus, all make this a song that has the ability to please both the metal fan and the rock fan. It sounds like a song you would hear on the Octane channel on SiriusXM. The same can be said about "Save Defiance" which features Myles Kennedy, who manages to astonish us all once again with an impeccable vocal performance. He's definitely one of the greatest voices in rock today.
The acoustic guitar is brought out on "Reveal", featuring Naeemah Maddox. This is without a doubt the most laid back track of all of them. While it's devoid of crunchy guitars, it features some cool blues licks and a more poppy melodic rock guitar sound in the second half. Some hardcore fans might not embrace this track fully, but I think it's a really tasty song and a great addition for some dynamics. When I first heard that Mark was doing a solo album and all the guest vocalists that were featured, a lot of people, including me, wondered whether he would perform vocals on it, and low and behold, he does. He steps up to the microphone and showcases his vocal abilities on "Imaginary Days". The song shows he's got some decent pipes and he should put them to use some more on future solo material. The song is a blend of alternative metal in the music and pop punk in the vocals.
Mark is about to head out on a tour in support of the album. Now, the question is: what vocalist will he get that will be able to cover all the vocal styles from the songs he chooses to play live? We'll just have to wait and see. If you think about it, he's in the same position as Slash was when he released his first solo album in 2010. Anesthetic is an album with hardly any flaws to be found. It's a diverse record that contains metal, alternative and thrash, with something for fans of all those genres.
Highs: High-class songwriting and diverse offering of songs.
Lows: Hardly any. I think if you prefer metal, "Reveal" and "Imaginary Days" might not be your cup of tea.
Final Rating: 9/10
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