Sunday, 24 August 2008

CD Review: Ashes of the Wake, by Lamb of God (2004)

Ashes of the Wake is the third studio CD from Lamb of God using their current band name, and their fourth if you count 1998's Burn the Priest when they were displaying more explicitly violent tendencies towards the clergy.

Regardless, Ashes of the Wake is the first CD in which the Virginia quintet fully delivers a complete set of meaningful song structures, with emphasis on recognizable melodies, guitar solos and interesting arrangements.

It is a good evolution for the band, since their two previous efforts As The Palaces Burn (2003) and New American Gospel (2000) demonstrated pure raw power, but not much else. On Ashes of the Wake, several songs are memorable for a lot more than just power and proficient playing. Opener Laid To Rest and second track Hourglass both demonstrate an impressive melodic groove beyond anything on the band's previous CDs, and the general maturing of the band is noticeable throughout the rest of the songlist.

Which is not to say that there aren't some fair to middling tracks on the CD, including One Gun, Break You and What I've Become.

On Ashes of the Wake, Lamb of God's sound is underpinned by a powerful drum foundation delivered by Chris Adler, while brother Willie Adler and Mark Morton share shredding duties on the guitars. Lamb of God is not a band built on terrific solos, relying more on a guitar sound that bridges and transitions instead, but the band does not shy away from solos either. John Campbell's steady bass is apparent without being obtrusive, while Randy Blythe's low to middle-pitched growl delivers the lyrics in a suitably aggressive monotone which is generally incomprehensible.

Lamb of God are among today's leading American bands delivering unpretentious straight-ahead heavy metal, and Ashes of the Wake is a landmark CD for the group, marking its graduation to a new level of sophisticated song-writing.


John Campbell - Bass
Mark Morton - Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Chris Adler - Drums
Randy Blythe - Vocals
Willie Adler - Lead and Rhythm Guitars

Songlist (Ratings out of 10):

1. Laid To Rest - 10
2. Hourglass - 9
3. Now You've Got Something To Die For - 8
4. The Faded Line - 8
5. Omerta - 8
6. Blood Of The Scribe - 7
7. One Gun - 6
8. Break You - 7
9. What I've Become - 7
10. Ashes Of The Wake - 8
11. Remorse Is For The Dead - 7

Average: 7.73

Produced by Machine and Lamb of God
Recorded and Mixed by Machine
Engineered by John Agnello and Machine

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