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LAMB OF GOD

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There are metal bands and then there is Lamb of God.

 

A new breed of modern American metal was created in the 2000s, with Lamb of God setting the high standard by which later bands would be judged. So often, the European metal scene set the tone and established the creative watermark of the global metal scene, providing the template that their American brethren would follow. Then Lamb of God came along and all bets were off.

Fast forward a decade, and it turns out, they've merely nicked the surface of what they can do and plan on accomplishing. In 2012, Lamb of God remain the pre-eminent metal band, reigning atop of their genre, thanks to their consistent ability to feed fans with only the best extreme metal there is. Their seventh album Resolution finds the band firing on all cylinders.

With a rich history that includes three Grammy nominations, a tour with Metallica, debuts in the Top 10 on the Billboard Top 200 (2009's Wrath debuted at No. 2 while 2006's Sacrament debuted at No. 8); multiple Platinum-selling DVDs (Killadelphia and Walk With Me in Hell); an arena tour with Slipknot; the main stage of most major festivals, and wearing the fact that they were banned in Los Angeles (the Forum had a problem with their name and booted them off the bill of two shows, one with Slipknot and one with Metallica) as a badge of honour, there's no question that Lamb of God rule the metal roost. They're not resting on past successes though. For Lamb of God, what happened in 2002 happened in 2002. It's about the right now and what's next and that’s Resolution.

With Resolution, Lamb of God emerge from the South as hungry and as extreme as ever. This Virginia wrecking crew has come a long way from playing basements as Burn the Priest, but there is one constant: the drive to make legit, honest music their way and that's just what they've done. 

“The first and foremost thing that you have to realize about LOG is that we do exactly what we want, when we want, and how we want to," declares vocalist Randy Blythe. "We always have and we always will. That’s why each record is a snapshot in time. We never consciously sit down and say 'We’re going to keep it heavy. We’re going to keep it metal.' We just do that because that’s what we want to do. If we felt like putting out a polka record tomorrow, we would. We’re trying to make 'smart' heavy music.”

Mission accomplished with Resolution, a 100% trend-free and intelligently constructed album that could power a small country with its unstoppable energy and potent riffery. In a scene littered with "here today, gone tomorrow" bands, Lamb of God have survived because nothing stops them from staying the course they've embarked upon. The men that comprise the band are a little older, a lot wiser, and have families to support. Yet despite all those realities, making this music and making it their way is something that compels them, drives them, and sustains them. 

"We're not spitting out a Lamb of God template record," guitarist Mark Morton says. "If it's uninspired or you have nothing left to say, you stop. We're all putting other things in life off to do this, and we're not going to do it if gets boring to us. It's still exciting on our seventh studio record. We're still gaining momentum and getting better."

While 2009's Wrath was sonically forceful enough to shift tectonic plates, Resolution finds the band knocking out their songs with their signature groove and swagger but with a little more refinement and attention to dynamics.

Overall, Morton feels that Resolution is the natural next chapter in his band's history, albeit one that harks back to the past, saying, "It almost completes the circle. There is a purity in the music, like when you first begin and you don't have those big aspirations, in a business sense, other than to play."

Drummer Chris Adler, long regarded as one of the most talented rhythm keepers in metal, concurs, "Wrath was a bit of a first round knock-out punch to the face album and was purposefully very aggressive. Resolution is much more of a dynamic album.” He also feels that Resolution is born of the desire to surprise himself along with the fans who are happily along for the ride. He says, “A lot of bands get to the point where they put out seven or eight records and fans start to take them for granted. They aren’t the 'cool guys' anymore. I’m not immune to that, and we wanted to push ourselves and surprise ourselves by not resting on prior successes and by default surprising our fans.” Even so, he's not interested in following any sort of trends. He continued, “The biggest thing is that we don’t all want to be the next 'fill in the blank.' We don’t have a unified influence as a band. Because of that, our approach and our sound is slightly different than most bands. We fight and argue which makes it a more honest process.” As bandmate Blythe said earlier, Lamb of God, as an entity, is like a living, breathing creature, not one that is plugged in.

When it came time to write and record Resolution, the band elected to let producer Josh Wilbur become involved sooner, to direct what was flowing out of them, egos be damned. "We did incorporate Josh a bit earlier in the process," guitarist Willie Adler says. "To have an objective ear early on allowed us to sideline our egos at times and really drive for the best shit possible. We also wanted, as far as guitars are concerned, to really capture our live tone on record.”

Morton also revealed that the band did try something new and different with Resolution. “Unlike any other album before, this album was written over the course of a couple of years, at least with the guitars. Willie and I started songwriting as soon as we started touring with Wrath," instead of their usual M.O. of writing upon their return from the road. "Due to having the recording software, we were able to take down ideas," he says about the head start. As a result, Resolution boasts some of the most punk rock moments and some of the bluesiest moments of the band's recorded career, perhaps fostered along by the liveliness of the writing-on-the-road process.

Blythe is known for spitting out provocative verses in a militaristic bark. His voice and style demand and command your attention. What he declares in the space of his lyrics isn't always comfortable –for him or for you - but he will always make you think about what he is saying. "I’m 40 years old, and I’m just now really getting some clarity on where my place in my life is," Blythe admits. "This is about me getting clarity after partying for a long amount of time, looking at my life and saying 'This is where I am, where do I want to go now?'"

He continues, "It’s an introspective record and goes over some uncomfortable things for me. I hope people that hear those lyrics will look at themselves and look at the world around them and say 'This is where I am, I don’t like this.' and try to invoke a change in themselves. My overall feeling for this record is 'awakening.'"

While Resolution admittedly contains some of "the swampiest, sludgiest stuff" of their career, according to Morton, as well as some of the aforementioned "most punk" songs they've ever laid to tape, the album also boldly goes elsewhere and features strings, orchestral movements and bluesy, acoustic guitars living among the band's patented, potent groove and swagger. The song "Insurrection" is a signature, natural and instinctive moment for Chris Adler, who revealed the song was born when the group was locked together in a room and tasked with seeing what it could come up with.

Album closer "King Me" is a real showpiece on an album full of showpieces. As Resolution's punctuation mark, it's a beautiful piece of music from grizzled, meat-and-potatoes-peddling veterans. It was purposely placed at the end of the album, as an unexpected pay off for the fan who spent an hour of his or her life listening to what came before it. Even though Lamb of God make music that could put hair on your chest, underneath the buzz of the guitars, the thunder of the percussion and the ferocity of the vocal declarations, this is still thinking man's metal.

""King Me' is an epic song," Blythe declares without hesitation. "It fits that definition, there’s no way around it. When a song is an epic song, you want to make it as big as possible, which is what we did with the opera singer and the string incorporation." Morton shared a little more about the process and how they arrived at such an "epic" moment, saying, "This isn’t necessarily us changing our songwriting approach or the method, but we really stretched out in the way we 'treated' the songs. Those are things that are added to the song after the fact, but they have a very impact on the overall sound. I don’t think we looked at it as 're-inventing' ourselves; it’s really as simple as that we’re continuing to strive to make music that we’re interested in and that we’re challenged to play, and that we enjoy performing.”

Few bands can craft an album that's as thoughtful as it is visceral. Resolution is firmly one of the most cohesive, dynamic, and boot-to-the-throat heavy albums in Lamb of God's already extensive body of work and stands as evidence of the band's stronghold on heavy metal in 2012.

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