Lamb of God are a very promising young band. Probably the fastest rising band to come out of the “New Wave of American Heavy Metal” heap, and they’ve got my vote for the best new metal band to be born in the new millennium. Their second album, “As the Palaces Burn”, is a brutal barrage that pulls no punches and pummels the listener’s ear drums. With its impenetrable wall of sound, killer double bass drumming, fiery guitar work and an occasional guitar solo, this album should be any and every metalhead’s dream.
The band didn’t make this album on a major record label, so there isn’t a big production job. Thus, singer Randy Blythe’s voice and Chris Adler’s drums are more raw than on their next release, “Ashes of the Wake.” It’s up for debate whether that’s a good thing or not, but there’s no denying that Blythe’s yell/growl goes great with the background music.
Due to the production, Blythe’s vocals take a back seat to the guitars and drums. Drummer Chris Adler is at the root of Lamb of God’s attack. He makes the beat a big, relentless wave which gets shoved down the listener’s throat. But he sometimes creates breakdowns that change the beat (to a usually slower and heavier one). Sometimes, when listening to this album, I could have sworn Adler wasn’t beating his drums, but beating the outside of my headphones. Adler’s persistent double bass drumming (which is usually a death metal blast beat or machine gun attack) and Blythe’s Cookie Monster vocals make Lamb of God stand out from other “New Wave of Metal” bands.
“Ruin” is a good representation of Lamb of God: super aggressive, hard hitting and raw. It has a “ba boom boom” beat with pounding drums and Blythe shrieks like he’s being stabbed. There’s a breakdown in the middle of the song (following the guitar solo), making a bobbing beat with bobbing guitars. It ends with another mini solo and a small explosion sound.
“Purified” features guest guitar work by ex-Megadeth axeman Chris Poland. The solo he lays down here is good, but I would have definitely liked it more if it were longer.
“11th Hour” is the lead single and a personal favorite. The whole song is catchy, but I like it when Blythe bellows over just the double bass (no other instruments). Also, this song has GREAT give-and-take between the guitars and drums. After this part, it turns to Pantera-style riffing.
“Boot Scraper” begins with cascading (almost machine gun) riffs and drums, but my favorite part of this song is pounding double bass solo. Adler must have had bricks attached to his feet when he was playing this part.
“A Devil in God’s Country” is almost mind boggling (with rapid, back-and-forth guitar and drum work).
“Blood Junkie” is my second favorite song on the album. It begins with an almost inaudible spoken word, but the vocals gain volume as the song progresses. This track is a highlight because it has (1,2,3,) 4 beat changes and heavy breakdowns. Part of this song has bobbing riffs.
I gave this C.D. four stars–even though technically speaking it should be rated 4.5–because it could stand to have a tad bit more texture. I don’t think they should add any melody, like Shadows Fall or Killswitch Engage, because if they did, there would be nothing to distinguish Lamb of God from those bands. When I say they should add a tad bit more texture, I’m not saying they should make anything like a pop ballad, but the constant double bass drumming makes some parts of some of the songs blend together. Plus, I DO think the vocals became more diverse and interesting when the band signed with Sony (a year after this album was released).
But those two small things didn’t stop “As the Palaces Burn” from becoming the second most contagious album of the year. Plus, there should be nothing to deter you from checking this album out if you love metal or thrash or the “New Wave of American Heavy Metal” scene. Or, if you are just tired of hearing such bands as Nickelback or other wimpy modern rock bands that control the radio’s airwaves, Lamb of God should be your dream come true.