I decided to review this album after the buzz of its release, after the stampede of haters and lovers, and just leave the dust to clear before I make any rash or hasty decisions towards my general feel towards the album. Putting it simply Lamb Of God have not deviated all that much from the sound of the last record, but alas there are a few surprises be it good or for bad is down to the listener, but in a nutshell nothing major has changed. Randy Blythe has retained his vocal performance and is pretty consistent through out, although I kind of miss the days when he sounded a bit more of a mess like on "Ashes of the wake", "New American Gospel" or even the material that came out under the Burn The Priest banner. I kind of warmed to his random shrieks and low-end incoherent growling. Nowadays it is just a throaty roar...permanently. Chris Adler is still a unique contribution to the compositions, a beast behind the kit, but he definitely thinks outside the box. John Campbell's bass keeps in time and is consistent, although to be honest I never really notice the bass on first listen, unless we're talking something out of this world like Steve DiGiorgio. I even play bass so that's pretty bad I guess. Now as for the riffs, they are crisp with the usual dashings of pinch harmonics and abrupt changes. The really unique thing about guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler is they can throw out a mixed bag of sounds, yet be it because of musical chemistry or sheer good luck, the riffs always sound catchy even when it's not particularly my thing. I mean Mark Morton has sort of a blues vibe about his playing, but that seems to compliment the more metal orientated material coming from Willie.
"Straight for the sun" is a chugging groove affair, which does kind of set up a climax for what is coming next, but only in retrospect can you appreciate it not nessecarily on first listen. "Desolation" has an interesting web of riffs and a head bobbing chorus. "Ghost walking" is a bit more obvious and the riffs are pretty mediocre. I reckon this is probably meant to be the "accessible" out of the pack, perhaps hoping for radio airplay and with a video to boot, this is perhaps the less annoying descendent of "Red neck". I was quite fond of "The undertow" with its perky riffing and it generally had a consistent feel through out. "Cheated" is quite fast-paced and sounds more aggressive compared to other tracks. "Terminally unique" starts with some rather melodic riffing which quickly disappears in favour of this bands usual fair. "To the end" is also very memorable, making me wish I could throw a keg of mead through a window, then down a bottle of whiskey then throw the empty bottle at something too. I don't know what it was about "King me" but it kind of reminded me of "Floods". Well not at all really, but the whispered vocals over the acoustic passage specifically. "King me" pretty much transforms into symphonic confusion, although I am a fan of symphonic sounds in metal, I feel it has just been put here almost as a novelty. It is one of those things where I cannot condemn them for doing so, rather I will say well done for trying but perhaps leave it out next time. Overall this is a pretty decent album, and Lamb Of God have not been eroded too harshly by the winds of change from internal and external forces. But even though I like this record...I don't know...I just preferred "Wrath". And in the even grander scheme of things I'm pretty sure they will never top "Ashes of the wake", the album which made me respect them in the first place.