Saturday, 14 March 2009

CD Review: New American Gospel, by Lamb of God (2000)

A fair warning: this CD requires a certain state of mind to be appreciated. With an open mind, it will be merely painful. With an impatient mind, it will be both painful and annoying.

The first studio CD after the band re-named themselves Lamb of God is relatively relentless, and portrays a group of musicians at the beginning of their journey as songwriters and musicians.

Those who like their heavy metal as a straightforward serving of shapeless power that best resembles the monotonous banging of an engine will enjoy New American Gospel. For the most part, it is charge-ahead, slight change of pace, charge-ahead, slight change of pace, and repeat for 11 songs (plus the bonus tracks on this 2006 re-issue that are not reviewed here, since they are demos and working titles -- not that the rest of the CD is much more polished).

When some vague melody and slightly more sophisticated songwriting are introduced, the results are quite good, as on CD opener Black Label and O.D.H.G.A.B.F.E. (and yes, the letters mean something and those interested can find the answer on Wikipedia).

When the band take the really low road and display a total absence of any attempt to engage, as on Black Dahlia, the results are no different than banging heads against brick walls and wondering where the pain is coming from.

Most of the songlist settles into a mind-numbing pounding sameness of sound. The power is appreciated, but the lack of originality is not.

Lamb Of God have two guitarists on this CD, Will Adler and Duane, but they don't get much to do, and the band certainly are not trying to establish themselves as a showcase for shredding guitar work. Instead, the overwhelming sounds are those of Chris Adler's drums and John Campbell's bass -- and it's no surprise that Chris Adler co-produced the CD, pushing the drum sound all the way to the front. The foundations are the structure.

This CD is a dream come true for metal fans who like plain, massive, grey and monolithic concrete buildings towering over a bleak landscape.


Will Adler - Guitar
Randall Blythe - Vocals
Chris Adler - Drums
John Campbell - Bass
Duane - Guitar

Songlist (Ratings out of 10):

1. Black Label - 9
2. A Warning - 7
3. In The Absence Of The Sacred - 7
4. Letter To The Unborn - 7
5. The Black Dahlia - 6
6. Terror And Hubris In The House Of Frank Pollard - 7
7. The Subtle Arts Of Murder And Persuasion - 7
8. Pariah - 8
9. Confessional - 7
10. O.D.H.G.A.B.F.E. - 9
11. Nippon - 7

Average: 7.36

The Bonus tracks are 1999 rehearsal demos and working titles: New Willenium (The Black Dahlia), Half-Lid (A Warning) and Flux (Pariah). For serious students of the band only.

Engineered by Steve Austin.
Produced and Mixed by Steve Austin, Chris Adler and Lamb Of God.
Mastered by Ryan Smith.

Ace Black Blog CD Review No. 27
See all the Ace Black Blog CD Reviews here.

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