Standing firm at the centre of the rapidly diversifying metal genre, Lamb of God remain as relevant to the scene today as on their explosive entry into it nearly two decades ago. Seven albums later, the band are not content to rest upon their laurels. The seventh and newest release VII: Sturm Und Drang delivers a driving intensity and body-shock energy, coupled with the meticulous precision that has characterised Lamb of God throughout their career.
VII: Sturm Und Drang follows the longest hiatus in the bands history, and the intervening five years between this and their 2010 release Resolution have been perhaps the most difficult in Lamb of God’s formidable story. The well-documented arrest and incarceration of vocalist Randy Blythe for the accidental death of a fan during a live show in Prague, necessarily put pause to the band’s activity. But rising from the ashes of this mischance, Blythe’s experience was a powerful catalyst for VII: Sturm Und Drang. Directly translated as ‘Storm And Stress’, there can be little doubt that this album charts a darker, harder time for Lamb of God. Though it might be untrue to state that it is the story of that time, Blythes imprisonment was unquestionably the starting point for the lyrical direction; “Writing in there was an act of preservation for my morale, I suppose. Being creative, whenever I’m going through something rough and I don’t have anything else to turn to, I pick up the pen.”
Expanding from the examination of his own situation, a number of tracks on the album draw on brutal and dark moments in other histories. From the ferocious Anthropoid which tells the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich (the architect of the Nazi’s Final Solution), to the paranoia and prophecy of Engage The Fear Machine, a comment on a scaremongering media. With such storming influences, the songs manifest that same force and aggression in growling, abrasive vocals, hammering riffs and rains of immaculate drumming that sheet across the tracks like machine gun fire.
The menace of Blythes lyrics is underpinned by call to arms style melodies and storm gathering builds, but it’s the racing percussion from drummer Chris Adler that brings the full assault. Melodic moments counterbalance the pounding pace, with guest vocals from Deftones’ Chino Moreno drifting out a reprieve from Blythe’s roar on Embers. Dropping down completely on the looming Overlord, a trudging pace with double-tracked vocals give way to a thoughtful guitar solo. Final track Torches features another guest appearance from Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan), and is a monumental ending to VII: Sturm Und Drang.
Purposefully restricting the release to a traditional ten tracks, in VII: Sturm Und Drang Lamb of God have distilled down to a violent intensity that perfectly kicks out the creativity behind the release. Though it’s been a long time coming, VII: Sturm Und Drang is perhaps their strongest, clearest album to date.