Lamb of God - Sacrament (Cover Artwork)

Lamb of God

Sacrament (2006)


Since releasing their first major album New American Gospel in 2000, Lamb of God has been hailed as the saviours of real American metal from the myriad bands that have the word "-core" somewhere in their bio. New American Gospel won several album of the year awards, and LoG were on their way to becoming the pre-eminent thrash band of the new millenium. Just how much attention they garnered can be surmised from the fact that Epic signed them to a contract in 2004, and in true major label fashion pushed them to release a new album in five months. Following that album (Ashes of the Wake), two years of constant touring followed, during which I had the pleasure of experiencing LoG live on the Sounds of the Underground tour with Slayer. After finally finding time to return to the studio, Lamb of God has released Sacrament, their brand new metal opus.

A quick aural run through Sacrament shows that it is more of an evolution than a revolution in LoG's sound. There's two notable changes: the more processed sound and the more varied guitar playing. It is pretty clear that big money is behind this release. The sound is crystal clear, the instruments are perfectly separated, and there is plenty of low end. However, everything feels overpolished. Too much reverb, too much overdub, too much compression. Randy Blythe's vocals, though as vicious as ever, sound a bit rounded off, and it seems with every release he gets closer to being a Phil Anselom sound-alike. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, LoG have enough of an identity by now to do their own thing.

As noted, the guitar playing has also undergone some changes. Touring with a lot of European metal bands has clearly left a mark on the guitar duo of Mark Morton and Will Adler. There is less of the straight-ahead chugging rhythm of the previous releases, and a lot more combined lead/rhythm lines. Not to worry though, LoG has not turned into Children of Bodom. The leads are effectively incorporated into the essential LoG sound, producing a more interesting, varied and full sound (check out "Descending" and "Forgotten (Lost Angels)" for some examples). My main complaint against LoG has always has been the lack of variance: their albums tend to sound the same after the first few songs. Sacrament is much better in this regard, but I still found it a tad repetitive, and it took me a good half-dozen listens to fully get into it.

Lyrically, Sacrament is more introspective than LoG's previous releases, which tended to focus on religion and politics as their main themes. Anger, depression, and addiction seem to be the main issues, with several songs also serving as poetic jabs at the U.S. south ("Redneck," "Foot to the Throat"), and all that it stands for in the popular imagination. Just to make sure we don't think LoG have gone all emo on us, the inside of the album notes has a picture of a goat-headed Satan figure -- probably intended for those people who bought this album thinking it was Christian rock based on the band and album title. They will be in for a bit of a shock.

Bottom line: If you liked LoG's previous releases, you'll like Sacrament. If Lamb of God is not your cup of tea, this album will not change your mind.