Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Review: Lamb of God – Wrath (2009)

Lamb of God was never someone I considered listening to growing up. When Slipknot’s Volume 3 was released, it was the heaviest thing I had in my library. I was 17 going on 18 and I was still all about pop rock, modern rock, mainstream rock and Stone Temple Pilots.

If you’ve been following any of my reviews, it’s obvious my tastes have evolved. Lamb of God entered my line of sight one fateful night when I was playing Guitar Hero with a friend. I enjoyed playing the song on the game, looked up the band, loved the actual song more, bought Ashes of the Wake, loved it. Bought Sacrament, loved it. When I heard Wrath was on its way, I freaked. When it came out, I got it.

And I love it.

The introduction, ‘The Passing,’ is surprisingly acoustic. Acoustic? On a LoG CD? I had to make sure I didn’t buy something else by mistake. By that time, the first thirty seconds had passed and the signature sound of Lamb of God was there: in the guitar riffs, the drums. That signature style and sound was there and I was enthralled. If this is the opening, what else could be following?

A lot. ‘In Your Words’ explodes and is one of my favourite songs on the album. Opening with a drum roll and an incredible scream by Randy Blythe, ‘In Your Words’ is obviously a loud, angry tirade against the music industry (or a literal cash cow with sickly tits, I dunno).

After the majority of the song plays, the song explodes again at 3:25. As if the song has gone full circle, Blythe belts out another scream and the song carries itself for a minute or so, hard and heavy, before finally fading out.

‘Set To Fail’ follows and is signature Lamb of God. Heavy, chock full of screams. I don’t know what the fuss is over Blythe’s “semi-clean vocals” in the chorus. So you can understand what the hell he’s saying a little easier. Who cares?

It’s not until ‘Grace’ that my interest is piqued again. Opening similar to ‘The Passing,’ (as in it’s not unrelentingly brutal for at least a few seconds), ‘Grace’ unloads. It’s catchy, heavy, and on Big Joe Mix 2009. Have I been putting off explaining that this whole time? I’ll get to it eventually.

‘Everything to Nothing’ follows in the same vein. It’s a bad-ass assault, deviating from the Lamb of God norm only in the quick pace with which Blythe sings/growls his verses.

From start to finish, Lamb of God’s seventh studio album is brutal, unrelenting and far from disappointing. Speaking only for myself, it continues a trend in which only two songs per album since Ashes of the Wake stand out the most: 'Laid to Rest' and 'Omerta;' 'Walk with Me In Hell' and ‘Redneck;’ ‘In Your Words’ and ‘Grace.’

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Review: Dry Kill Logic – Of Vengeance and Violence (2006)

Dry Kill Logic apparently doesn’t get much respect. I say to hell with the nay-sayers. Dry Kill Logic’s latest release (from three years ago), Of Vengeance and Violence, is a heavy compilation of thrash metal, nu-metal and alternative metal.

After a brief intro, the CD opens with ‘My Dying Heart,’ a heavy track with catchy riffs and a great blend of deep screams and clean vocals, something I obviously enjoy and appreciate. Following is ‘4039,’ another great track along the same vein with some double-bass kicks implemented and an “uplifting” guitar riff in its chorus.

It’s when you get to ‘Innocence of Genius’ that you should take the time to strap yourself to something. A brief piece of, I’d guess, comedy relief, showcasing the vocalist Cliff Rigano as he’s preparing for the next song. It’s funny and I’m blown away every time Cliff screams “Go!” and ‘Boneyard’ plays.

‘Boneyard’ is the thrash side of DKL and it begins explosively. It was this song that turned me on to Dry Kill Logic in the first place. Fast-paced and heavy, the song stands out.

As does ‘Kingdom of the Blind,’ the following track. One that is significantly… different from those that preceded it, ‘Kingdom of the Blind’ is a huge change-up thrown by the band. Extremely gentler than the half dozen songs before it, the song is all melody and clean vocals, but it still has the band’s trademark guitar and bass riffs. Simply a spectacular song.

The few songs that follow revert to the same vein as the few from before, and you might be sick of it by the time ‘In Memoria Di’ comes on, which is an even greater change-up than ‘Kingdom of the Blind.’

Pure acoustic, ‘In Memoria Di’ is the definition of an outro track if there ever was one. But for a heavy metal band like DKL, it’s straight from left field and would almost be out of place if it wasn’t executed so well.

Props to the band for sticking with the game despite it all. Hopefully, they’ll have better luck in the future and put out some new music in the near future.

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Review: Diecast – Tearing Down Your Blue Skies (2004)

Tearing Down Your Blue Skies is technically Diecast’s third release, but I like to think of it as their debut.

Not to cast aside the band’s first couple of releases featuring original vocalist Colin Schleifer, but I feel as if the band reached its true potential with Paul Stoddard as their frontman. My reason for saying so is the CD.

The opening track, Fire/Damage, opens gently with a short acoustic segment before Stoddard screams “Fire, Damage” at the top of his lungs. The song obviously leaves that acoustic moment behind as it unloads in a deluge of thick guitar riffs and pounding drums. The chorus is bad-ass simply due to Stoddard’s screaming and his swinging between growls and screams and clean vocals.

This changing between dirty and clean vocals is in virtually every track on the album. ‘Seize the Day’ opens that very way; scream a few words, sing a few, repeat.

Unfortunately, that might be the one drawback: the repetition. The songs come off sounding a little like what came before it. Screams alternate with clean, melodic vocals while the drums unload in the background with omnipresent heavy metal guitar riffs. Not bad, but after a while, you start to notice the similarity between tracks.

‘Sacrifice’ opens differently, with a high guitar riff and a “build-up” feeling coming from the drums. As the song rolls on, the double-bass kicks begin and the way it’s done is what makes the song stand out. It can’t really be explained; you’ll just have to listen to it.

The highlight of the CD, I think, is ‘Rebirth.’ Opening with a light, airy guitar riff, the song explodes with double-bass pedals consuming the track. Stoddard’s screaming is coupled with the bass kicks for the first verse and it’s his dirty/clean vocal swinging that combines with the guitar, as the drums take a backseat, for the chorus. The song is bad-ass. And after you learn the words for the breakdown sequence, you’ll scream with it the next time the track plays. Trust me.

I purchased the re-release a couple of years ago, so I was able to enjoy three additional tracks that didn’t feature in the album’s debut. This included their cover of Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood.’ Simply, it’s an awesome cover and it’s a lot of fun to listen to.

The same can be said for the whole album. It’s heavy, it’s fun, and there’s some good stuff to listen to. Some will like it, others may not. I suggest you give them a listen and find out.

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Review: 36 Crazyfists – Rest Inside the Flames (2006)

36 Crazyfists grabbed my attention a few years ago, not long after their third studio album, Rest Inside the Flames, hit store shelves. I’ve had the opportunity to watch them perform live (at the Rockstar Mayhem Fest last year in Dallas) and they’re a great act to watch and mosh to.

The aforementioned album opens strong with ‘I’ll Go Until My Heart Stops,’ a good song packed with plenty of screams, great riffs, and some double-bass kicks in the middle. The song transitions to a more melody-driven ‘Felt Through a Phone Line,’ which utilizes a unique distortion in the vocal track a few seconds in. You’ll be a minute or so in when you notice that difference between ‘Phone Line’ and ‘…Heart Stops.’ The way the two songs carry themselves, the way they are driven, you’d think two different bands were at work – at least until Lindow’s distinctive screams belt out, of course. No complaints here, though, especially seeing as how whatever sound 36CF captures, they always sound great.

‘On Any Given Night’ opens with a catchy riff over offbeat drumming and leads into an even catchier melodic vocal track sung by Lindow. Again, a curve ball is thrown when ‘Elysium’ kicks on. All screams from Lindow with thick, chugging riffs in the forefront (you can’t possibly think Holt’s guitar work occupies the BACKground, do you?) before Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage guest appears. With his signature screams alongside Lindow’s, you have the best song on the CD yet.

And another change-up as ‘The Great Descent’ comes on next. Opening with a softer melody, the song switches between clean vocals and Lindow’s explosive, and catchy screams, (Somebody better call a doctor!).

The entire disc is a diverse album with a plethora of different styles, ranging from almost emo (the good, bearable kind) to melodic rock to metalcore. The rest of the album carries on without missing a beat. Notable mentions to ‘Aurora,’ ‘We Cannot Deny,’ and the somber (and acoustic) ‘The City Ignites.’ The album is easily a must-have for anyone who enjoys hard rock and melodic metalcore.

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