No band has done more for American metal under the Bush years than LAMB OF GOD. For eight years, Virginia's finest upped the ante for modern metal, expressing the rage of a nation over perpetual touring, four outstanding studio albums and previously unthinkable chart success for relatively extreme metal. Now Wrath, the Lamb's latest offering, calls to mind the most overused phrase of the past year, but one that the band should heed–"Change we can believe in."
Wrath is a little like Lamb of God's Divine Intervention–a strong effort from a band that's capable of better. The hooks are there, if not as consistently as on As the Palaces Burn, and there are several great songs, especially the first ones streamed online, "Contractor" and "Set to Fail." Still, much of the album sounds like it's on the verge of taking off. "In Your Words" can't live up the promise of it's first minute, and "Fake Messiah" and "Everything to Nothing" sound great until the part when they're supposed to leave lasting impressions. The skills are still there–hooks drop into "Dead Seeds" and "Broken Hands," the performances are reliably complex and organic, and the band remains unsoftened by age and popularity. But if you're looking for a modern American metal kick in the nuts, any of the band's other records will do the job just as well.
Some of album's best ideas are the most atypical ones. Low-key moments like the haunting, instrumental opener "The Passing," the absorbing intro to "Grace" and best of all the seven-minute closer "Reclamation" all hint at talents that the band hasn't yet tapped into. Five albums in, it'd be to Lamb of God's advantage to take a risk on their next album. It could be their …And Justice for All or it could be their Load, but either way it would show the gutsiness that drew us all in over the past several years.
Mind you, a decent Lamb of God album is still a great record, and there may not be ten better metal albums released this year. Still, we hold the best bands to a higher standard than your average TRIVIUM, and no matter how much it stands out on today's metal scene, next to albums like Palaces and Sacrament, this one's a "burn."
Buy it/burn it/chuck it scale: Burn