Man, thank goodness for bands like Lamb Of God. Unlike the sorry, moaning likes of Staind and Nickelback, Lamb Of God prove that angst can actually be empowering (novel thought, huh?). Rather than wallowing in self-pity, this five-man wrecking crew channels their righteous indignation into stunningly heavy and intelligent metal that manages to be catchy and even uplifting at the same time. Although anger is unquestionably an important part of Lamb Of God’s sound, “As The Palaces Burn” is far from a simple testosterone fest. Instead, the album combines unrelenting aggression with devastating precision and killer songwriting chops, making for one of the most superb metal listens released so far this decade. Lamb Of God can slow down and really drive the heaviness into you, or they can speed things up and blast you straight through a wall. No matter what though, the music is always gut-wrenchingly heavy, and played with an amazing level of skill. Willie Adler and Mark Morton are a brilliant guitar duo who do some really complex and interesting stuff, and they always have the volume cranked up to the max. Randy Blythe’s vocals are basically just guttural, semi-intelligible growls typical of extreme metal, but they’re sufficiently angry and hateful for the music being played. The rhythm section sounds really good too, but the drum production is pretty lousy, and the drums and bass are inevitably pushed to the background by the more attention-grabbing nature of the guitars and vocals. Oh well. Any production problems aside, “As The Palaces Burn” is easily one of the albums of the year for metalheads, maybe THE album of the year. The last Haunted album was pretty amazing, but I think this one may even have that beat. But whatever the case, if you like heavy music that mixes brains with brawn, you can’t go wrong with Lamb Of God. Now to check out their first album!