BY JUSTIN SABATA
“i DoN’t LiKE tHEm ANyMoRE, theY’Re tOo PoLITicaL!”
Here are some lyrics from an album that debuted at 15th in this week’s Billboard 200:
“Empty actions to fill the time
Commercial gods keep you in line
Industry and empire thrive
While you’re dying for, always more”
- Lamb of God, “Gears”, 2020
Now, here is the articulate wisdom that graces the 9th spot this week (debuted at #1 in March):
“Gotta shoot two at her (yeah)
Ayy, gotta shoot two at her (and you are Lil Uzi? Vert, let’s go)
Ayy, stay with the blue cheddar (whoa)
That girl, she got with my clone
I told that lil’ girl that she gotta just do better, whoa (one, two, three, let’s go)”
- Lil Uzi Vert, “Futsal Shuffle 2020”, 2020
Virginia-made metal juggernauts Lamb of God released their new self-titled album in June. Yet, while still charting, the album was no match for tunes about healthy posteriors or the artist’s bank account information. And, yes, debuting where they did is still a tremendous accomplishment for a metal band that does not talk only about their feelings.
But, it is not nearly the commercial performance they had last time with VII: Sturm und Drang, which peaked at number three on the chart back in 2015. Is it because this new album is not quite like their 2015 masterclass? Maybe, but not by that much.
“Distraction flows down an obsessive stream
Rejection grows into oppressive screams”
- Lamb of God, “Memento Mori”, 2020
The world is scary right now, and Lamb of God is not afraid to admit it with a wrathful growl unlike most. The new work highlights themes such as internet disinformation, the lack of civil discourse, the flaws of the “American Dream”, and school shootings. These themes are difficult to discuss (I bet you shuddered just slightly on the inside after reading them) and were even slightly difficult for me to bring up in print. However, it must be brought up in order for something to happen, conservatively or liberally. Seems simple enough, at least for Lamb of God.
“Another massacre, another day gone by
Is this the new abnormal?
Pursuing illusions as we turn a blind eye
This is the new abnormal”
- Lamb of God, “Reality Bath”, 2020
The track “Reality Bath” bats 4th on the album for a reason. Sweet Jeff Hanneman, what a lyrical slugger this song is from the first phrase (too explicit to share here). Although it throws more gas bombs into the fiery debate of gun control, it is able to do so in a biting rapid fire of words not seen since Slayer.
“I’m the resurrection man
A jackal in a three-piece suit
Death and taxes for the damned
Brought to heel beneath my boot”
- Lamb of God, “Resurrection Man”, 2020
Lamb of God is renowned for its effective breakdowns. No, not the clunky computerized ones Hot Topic kids push each other to nowadays. Just plain, natural, filthy tempo changes. I am talking about Pantera levels of filthiness. You get this and much more in “Resurrection Man”, a vengeful track about the negative effects of trickle-down economics.
This album is also one of the band’s new drummer, Art Cruz’s, best performances. Cruz, in his first album since replacing fan-favorite Chris Adler, at least temporarily muted most critics with his seamless tempo changes and superb fundamental craftsmanship. Give him a chance, die-hard L.o.G. fans. Adler’s fingerprints are on everything released before this album, of course it will not sound exactly the same.
“Because you’re not a human being, just a fine to be paid
Just the cost of doing business in their cancerous trade
More collateral damage to be swept away
A footnote in the story of their moral decay
Know you’ll never find compassion in their empty souls
From their ravenous eyes to their corrupted bones
Life means nothing to them as our history shows
Endless chemical warfare waged on our homes”
- Lamb of God, “Poison Dream ft. Jamey Jasta”, 2020
The more I read these lyrics over, the more I realize why the government tried to censor music back in the 80’s. “Poison Dream” with Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta would be a politician’s worst nightmare if people would actually read the lyrics. Musically speaking, the riffs are tasty with a crispy showing from Cruz. Lyrically, it is a beast and one of the best written on the album.
Unfortunately, most people put their earplugs in a long time ago.
Lamb of God does exactly what a self-titled album should, and that’s to show listeners the band’s overall message, sound, and attitude. It displays the controlled guitar anarchy mixed with poignant political lyrics in a patented groove that just makes you want to boogie-woogie.
Just like every L.o.G. album has done before. From a political standpoint, you can agree or disagree with what is being said. Constitutionally, you can even believe that “the devil’s music” should be eliminated altogether. But, can we at least admire the intestinal fortitude it took to release such a volatile album in such volatile times?
Whether they root for the elephant or the donkey, Lamb of God continues to inform instead of distract, since no one else seems to want to.