01. Nevermore 02. Vanishing 03. To The Grave 04. Ditch 05. Omens 06. Gomorrah 07. Ill Designs 08. Grayscale 09. Denial Mechanism 10. September Song
Another milestone along a road that is now littered with them, LAMB OF GOD's 2020 self-titled felt like a simple but honest restating of values. With a new drummer in tow (the now firmly established Art Cruz), the Virginia quintet had enough fresh impetus to deliver another hard-to-fault collection of thunderous metal tunes. Two years on, expectations for their ninth album are largely the same as they were last time around, and another 45 minutes of brutal, thrash-fueled groove metal, executed by established experts, would arguably be more than sufficient for most fans. The problem for LAMB OF GOD is that they are clearly a band with ideas to spare, and while most of "Omens" sticks to the expected script (and rightly so, because nobody does this stuff better), there are more surprises and moments of twisted ingenuity on display here than on any album since "Resolution".
The clues came early: first single "Nevermore" is instantly recognizable as LAMB OF GOD, but it's a skewed, menacing thing, with atypical riffs and a discernible heart of darkness. The title track hinges on a pendulous, loping groove that is only a distant cousin of the straight-ahead, re-tooled thrash riffs that have long been the band's primary focus. A subtle deviation from the norm, but a deviation nonetheless, its one-word chorus practically guarantees that "Omens" will become a steadfast live favorite, and that groove is eminently stinkface-worthy. Elsewhere, "To The Grave" twists the LOG formula into ugly new shapes, with a powerhouse Randy vocal that crackles with righteous fury, and "Denial Mechanism" is an absolute, bug-eyed riot, built from scorched-earth punk rock, the dirtiest thrash imaginable and enough swagger to spark a revolution. Even the superficially straightforward likes of "Gomorrah" and "Ditch" indicate that LAMB OF GOD are still tinkering with their proven formula, while "Grayscale" ("There's a war going on inside my head!" notes Randy) is as sludgy, grim and brutally memorable as anything they have recorded.
The grand finale is where the real revelations lurk. "September Song" is not a cover of the old jazz standard (although that would have been great!) but it does share that song's overwhelming sense of weariness and regret. Blessed with some of the heaviest and fastest riffs on the entire record, it's also one of the most dramatic and unsettling things LAMB OF GOD have ever committed to tape, and with Randy in the vocal form of his life.
One of these days, LAMB OF GOD might make an album that truly confounds expectations, but "Omens" is smart, surprising and monstrously heavy enough to distract us until they do.
BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).