So far, the 21st century has been a period of diminishing returns in the metal world – but one band from the New Wave of American Heavy Metal has really stood out: Lamb of God. But while the Richmond, Virginia titans’ previous long-player, 2009’s Wrath, was as relentlessly bone-crushingly heavy as we’d come to expect, the scintillating invention and inspired riffs they’d become famous for across three major label releases wasn’t as pronounced. They still had ‘it’, but ‘it’ had been diluted somewhat.
Like its predecessor, Resolution finds its makers flicking the autopilot switch every so often; but as with any veteran band, expecting album after album of a dozen outstanding smashes is simply asking for too much. And with 14 tracks on this, their seventh studio album, expectations set for a truly singular experience were always going to be slightly disappointed. The thunderous, low-slung sludge of opener Straight for the Sun does little to dash hopes though, and the deliciously cascading riffs of Desolation comprise the backbone of a furious call-to-arms. So far, so Lamb of God – and while there’s some concern that Ghost Walking is rather too similar to Redneck, from 2006’s Sacrament LP (the opening riff appears to be carbon-copy), its weighty grooves, intricate riffs and Randy Blythe’s unwavering screams and growls kick in and settle any nerves. Woof. Business as usual.
It’s understandable how Lamb of God’s bludgeoning style and American imagery brings the muscle-bound jocks and chest-thumpers to the fore, but there’s so much more to the band than mindless brutality. As the album ends with the gothic, orchestral vibes of King Me, Blythe’s muttered words are enveloped in vast symphonies. It’s a characteristically towering finish – one that leaves the listener feeling empowered and satisfied regardless of any shortcomings elsewhere. It all adds up to a consolidating of Lamb of God’s position at the top of the heavy metal tree, rather than a marked progression to attract new fans. It’s not exploring new musical frontiers, but Resolution is an eminently listenable heavy metal album. At this stage of 2012, that’ll do.
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