Lamb of God - _Ashes of the Wake_
(Sony / Epic, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (9 out of 10)
It's almost laughable that so many pundits are currently championing the cause of bands like Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall as the leaders of the so-called New Wave of American Heavy Metal, particularly when you take into account that the band formerly known as Burn the Priest have been fixing to claim that title ever since the release of _New American Gospel_ in 2000. The reasons for this are a simple matter of substance over style. Where much of the new generation have ensconced themselves in an all too familiar formula of hardcore chugging and insipid crooning, Lamb of God have picked up the torch that Pantera left behind after _Far Beyond Driven_, and taken aggressive yet accessible metal to the next level, consistently injecting their every song with a sense of danger and excitement that is starting to become an all-too-rare commodity these days. Consequently _Ashes of the Wake_ is completely devoid of the saccharine-sweet melodies that are being palmed off by Lamb of God's contemporaries, and the anger likewise is directed in a far more intelligent manner than any of the self-involved babbling that the current scene appears to have inherited from nu metal.

Signing to a major label hasn't mellowed the band any, either. _Ashes of the Wake_ more than holds its own to the likes of _As the Palaces Burn_; Machine's production job providing an added bottom-end kick that had perhaps been lacking from the band's prior output. The sheer pummeling aggression of songs like "Remorse Is for the Dead" and the climactic "Break You" almost makes it hard to believe that Lamb of God could have ascended the dizzy heights that they have thus far, but at the same time it's heartening to see that no amount of commercial applause has thus far been able to stunt the band's brutal momentum. And while I'd flinch at labeling this outfit, as some have in the past, "the world's most dangerous band", when it comes to the question of the most dangerous band to have infiltrated the mainstream conscience in recent years, I'd say most goddamn definitely.


(article published 20/1/2005)

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