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Ashes of the Wake

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★★★★½
(254 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • This CD is very good. Although it follows the same formula as “As the Palaces Burn” it seems as though there is more added qualities. I could be wrong but to me it seems as if “Ashes of the Wake” contains a cleaner, tighter, sound quality and production allowing the bass guitar to come out more as well as the powerful guitar riffs (which come in the many). The Double bass is consistant and adds an excellent back drop to the guitars. And even though Randy’s voice hasn’t really changed since “As the Palaces Burn” he does change his voice pattern going from his normal growl to death growls and screechs. His voice fits very well with the music even though my friend finds that he could’ve pulled his voice out more I explained to him that it wouldn’t fit with the assaulting guitars and the pounding double bass.

    Each song is very well put together and the lyrics are great usually revolving around politics or religion. My favorite track would have to be “Hourglass” I really like the part when the guitar breaks down and pulls a riff and the double bass adds an interesting groove. Then it’s say in a whispering tone “It’s only getting worse” and then Randy screams for a good 10-20 seconds. It’s beautiful. There really isn’t a bad track on here. All of the tracks sorta sound the same but it’s easy to get used to that. It’s only 9 dollars at best buy so what reason would you not to buy this CD? Maybe you don’t like metal but then why would you read this?
    GO buy this CD, you won’t regret it.

    Posted on February 3, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Lamb Of God has been around the music scene since 1998, and out of their four albums (the first of which was under the name Burn The Priest), they’ve never received the recognition they deserved. Their 2004 release, Ashes Of The Wake finally gave them the wide spread exposure they needed. To assist in those matters, they opened for Slipknot on the Subliminal Verses Tour. Their performance in that tour was sure to open many eyes to the musical prowess they so effortlessly display.

    Lamb Of God came around at exactly the right time; many have dubbed them “the new wave of heavy metal”, and due to this particular genre of metal’s past decline, some have even deemed them saviors. Although the five members of Lamb Of God, Randy Blythe (vocals), Mark Morton (guitar), Willie Adler (guitar), Chris Adler (drums) and John Campbell (bass), claim they started the band for “the love of getting drunk,” they obviously love their line of work as well.

    Since Lamb of God’s first album, they have steadily improved and refined their sound. Perhaps the biggest improvement in Ashes Of The Wake compared to their previous efforts is that the vocals are much more clear, making Blythe’s voice sound more concise and powerful. The guitar work is nothing short of brilliant, and the drumming can only be described as amazing.

    Ashes Of The Wake starts off with their first single of this album, “Laid To Rest.” The guitar work bares an uncanny resemblance to Testament’s “Into The Pit.” This is not a cheap knock off however, it is more of a homage to one of their influences. The next song, “Hourglass,” contains hard hitting riffs and a solo of sorts that makes you wonder how many fingers each guitarist has. No album would be complete without a crowd pleaser, making “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For” sure to be every concert goer’s mantra for the evening. This sort of assault continues for a total of eleven tracks, only slowing briefly in the introduction to “Omerta,” for a recitation of the rule of honor. This song continues into a slower chugging, groove oriented song. The only real relief comes from the closing track, “Remorse For The Dead,” which starts slow and ominous using smooth guitars and light drumming. It soon turns into heavy ominous riffs and vocals to match.

    On a personal note, this album will probably always hold a special place in my heart as the first real introduction to this “new wave of heavy metal.” I cannot think of any other album to offer as good an introduction and because of it I am glad to be part of this chapter in music history.

    Posted on February 2, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Anyone who has been following heavy metal/metalcore/extreme music knows that Ashes of the Wake is being watched very closely by the entire industry. After two original, technical, brutal, (and not to mention popular) albums, Major label Epic decided to pick these boys up…making them the most extreme group in the Label’s history. After making the cover of Revolver magazine, MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, and various other publications it is safe to say that expectations for this new album have been huge. Well after one listen through, I am estatic and relieved to say that Ashes of the Wake is easily Lamb of God’s best, most accessible, and well produced album of their career; and the boys haven’t sold out one bit. After I finished listening the only other album that I could compare this to in terms of brillance would have to be Metallica’s Master of Puppets…it really is that mind-blowing…and I will try to explain why

    What makes this album so great?

    1.) Strongest songwriting to date…the lyrics are great, usually revolving around struggle against government, and the internal struggle we all face.

    2.) Variety…One complaint I had about Lamb of God’s previous album was that many of the songs kinda blended into one another…most were mid tempo and had the same feel..and all together way to short (the entire album was only 38 minutes long) This album has a variety of tempos, guitar textures, and even an instrumental track thrown in (With guest appearences by Ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland and Testament’s Alex Scholnitz)

    3.) Production Quality…Producer extrodinaire Machine helmed this bad boy, and it shows. Easily the best sounding Lamb of God album…the drums pummel but are clean and punchy, the guitars are meaty, and Randy’s screams have never been more…understandable!

    4.) Groove…This is probably my favorite point of the album…It is loaded with hooks and grooves that make you want to shake your fist and start moshing it up, making it the most fun and accessible album of their career. Don’t get me wrong…these guys still play brutal and complex metal…but have replaced some of their brooding (Think Meshuggah) with thrash elements (Think Puppets-era Metallica) Try listening to “Laid to Rest” or “Hourglass” without banging your head…its impossible.

    Conclusion – Metal album…hell album of the year…anyone who enjoys old Metallica, metalcore, Pantera, Math Metal will find these boys have seamlessly blended all those elements into one hell of an album

    Posted on February 2, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This album very well may be the best I’ve ever heard. Of course, I have said this before, but this time, I’m going to stick to my guns. Ashes of the Wake has everything. Let’s begin with how this band came to be. Formerly known as Burn the Priest, Lamb of God consisted of only four members, Abe Spear being the guitarist rather than Mark Morton. Soon thereafter, Morton returned from Chicago to replace Abe as the guitarist. Meanwhile, the band had added another guitarist to the band, brother to drummer, Chris Adler, Will Adler. The aforementioned three, vocalist, Randy Blithe, and bassist, John Campbell, began to rise up from the underground Virginian metal scene and become what they are today, a force to be reckoned with. As far as the CD goes, it is a non-stop, riff-packed, double bass drumming thing of beauty. Randy grumbles and howls flawlessly on every track. The whole CD is a highlight, but here are some of my top favorites :

    1. Laid To Rest – The album’s first single, however, the video was kind of a disappointment. The beginning of the song is spoken by Randy, normally I wouldn’t like that but for this song it really fits it well. What makes the song so great is the strong riff on the verses. The chorus is almost similar to a shout-along rather than a growl, which is another neat plus.
    5. Omerta – This song also begins with a spoken portion, but even though it makes you think, I didn’t find it necessary. That’s just my opinion. Throughout the song, it seems as if Randy’s voice has an echo effect on it, which is pretty cool. My favorite part of the song is around the break when only the drums and guitar are audible. All of the sudden, there is a sweet lead in by Chris and a tempo change.
    6. Blood Of The Scribe – This song is chock-full of very high-pitched, almost emo-like, yelps. What really makes the song, for me, is the sixtuplet double kicking layed down by Chris on several occasions.
    10. Ashes Of The Wake – The title track has no vocals, but ironically is my absolute favorite of the CD. When I first heard the song, I’d swear I listened to it about 10 times. The five guitar solos, done by guest guitarists Chris Poland and Alex Skolnick, are what make this track one of my favorites out there. The transition riffs and solid drumming also make this song sound awesome.

    The only flaw I can really find with this album is that the bass is not powerful enough. Although it may be audible, I hope that on Sacrament, Lamb of God’s new album, in stores August 22, the bass is more powerful and able to carry the band. Overall, if you’re into metal, in fact, even if you’re not into metal, you NEED this album, because this is an album that we will be talking about 10 years from now. Thank you for your time.

    Posted on February 2, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Shadows Fall aside, Lamb of God had to be the most popular band in 2003 that was not signed to a major label. Both Shadows Fall and Lamb of God developed a large underground fan base, but, in 2004, Lamb of God were the only band to jump to the major leagues.

    When some bands get signed to a major label, they are forced to add more melody to their music or make radio-friendly songs to help boost album sales (some would argue this happened to AFI). Some bands (i.e. Pantera–who ditched hair metal) end up changing their sound entirely. Still more bands take advantage of the label’s big budget and production, thus making the new C.D. very polished and expensive (like Korn’s “Untouchables.”) When Lamb of God inked a major record deal, they definitely did NOT do either of the first two things (add melody to their music or completely change their sound), and they only partially did the third (take advantage of the label’s production).

    I believe Sony’s mixing and production have made appearances on 2004’s “Ashes of the Wake.” The result is an improved quality of vocals. On “As the Palaces Burn,” the guitars and drums were louder than the vocals, thus pushing frontman Randy Blythe to the back or the middle of the wall of sound. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that album (I thought it was one of the best of 2003,) but on these songs, Blythe’s vocals are level with the guitars and drums. Plus (I don’t know if I should credit the production with this or not, but) Blythe’s vocals are more interesting and diverse on this album. He still sounds like Cookie Monster most of the time, but here his voice fluctuates and has more than one tone. In addition to some ascending and descending yells, he shrieks, growls, and even calmly mutters an occasional spoken word.

    It’s a good thing that the vocals are more clear, because these lyrics are meaningful and somewhat intelligent. Randy bashes the President (even though he never name drops George Bush), war, government lies and hypocrisy, and corporations.

    “As the Palaces Burn” may have been just a bit more raw sounding than this album, but this does not sound over polished by any means (something overproduction often does). Also, “Ashes of the Wake” doesn’t forfeit any of the brutality that Lamb of God have made a name for themselves with. This C.D. is nothing short of 43 minutes of non-stop, intense, barely controlled and often brutal chaos. This quintet are the five most pissed off musicians to ever come from Virginia…and they’re not afraid to show it. Guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton rip through each song with one fiery and crunchy guitar riff after another, and Randy belts out some ferocious death metal vocals. Meanwhile, drummer Chris Adler, who is at the root of the attack, goes from killer machine gun blasts to slow chugs (and often he does that in the same song). But this album isn’t all brawn and no brains; most of these songs are full of several different rhythms and tempo/beat changes.

    “Laid to Rest,” is the opening track and the first single. Very fast, chugging riffs-which echo Pantera and Testament-run throughout this whole song, and, after the beginning spoken words, the vocals change to patented Randy Blythe vocals. The bridge near the end is a good tempo change, with bobbing riffs.
    “Hourglass” has more fiery riffs, thumping snare drums, and a double bass which almost sounds like shots from a distant cannon. About twenty seconds in, the catchy beat pauses briefly, and Randy barks “Privilege the chosen view” a capella. This song continues to plow along, but it has subtle speed changes and, around the three minutes in, it becomes a stop-start rhythm.
    “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For” is a lot speedier than tracks one and two. The beginning is a speedy groove with churning riffs, until the 50 second mark when a speed change kicks in and slows things down. The mid-section is a pounding rhythm with an ascending bellow, and the following verse has more fast chugging riffs. This song (particularly the chorus) is so catchy, it rings in your ears and rattles around your head forever.
    “The Faded Line” begins by playing slower, rhythmic riffs over double kick drums. There’s a creepy sounding guitar solo in this song, as well as a stop-start beat; but this song is a highlight because of the great, polyrhythmic drumming and ending shriek that Blythe lets out. (It sounds like he burned himself on a tea kettle.)
    “Omerta” means “honor” in Italian. This song (track five) begins with a spoken word about “the rule of honor” (which I believe means, essentially, “kill or be killed.”) It turns to a chugging beat with rhythmic riffs. Then, around the middle of the song, only one guitarist is playing (and is only audible in one headphone), but the drums and the other guitar kick in, and the song builds and gains density. Meanwhile, Randy is spouting lines like “A slip of the tongue, a slit of the throat…”
    “Blood of the Scribe” is probably the song on this record with the most and the best tempo changes.
    “One Gun” has another shriek, a running beat with pounding drums, and two mini guitar solos.
    “Break You” has some more steam-rolling riffs, but this song is a highlight because part of it has high pitched shrieks which remind me of “New American Gospel.” A nice breakdown near the end, too, with bobbing riffs.
    “What I’ve Become” opens with another running beat, with fast, interlocking riffs. About two and a half minutes in, the riffs become bobbing, then they seem to almost trade off riffs (take turns). And, around 2:55, Randy lets out a high, long yell, which lasts nearly ten seconds.
    “Ashes of the Wake” is a personal favorite. The beginning and end of this song features a voice from what sounds like a CNN report, but this track is mostly an instrumental. It features some more complex, multi-limbed drumming, but the real highlight is the guest guitar work by ex-Megadeth axeman Chris Poland and Testament’s Alex Skolnick. They lay down a combined total of five short but sweet guitar solos. (The fourth solo, which winds and bends, is probably my favorite of the bunch.)
    The only relief comes with the ending track, “Remorse is for the Dead.” This song’s light intro, which is soft, dwindling guitar chords, is so surprising, it’s almost shocking. Don’t fear, however, this song abruptly changes gears and goes full blast with the typical knock-out assault and staccato, stop-start riffing.

    Some say that the whole album plows along at one speed, but I disagree. I can see how the first time listener would think this, but Chris Adler’s aforementioned ability to switch from machine gun attacks to slow chugs makes this album full of beat and tempo changes. Plus, such songs as “Laid to Rest” are mid-tempo compared to other numbers, like “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For.” And even if these songs were all one speed, this album wouldn’t be the first to be like that. That’s the way thrash-metal is! If you don’t believe me, you haven’t heard Megadeth’s classic “Rust in Peace.”

    It may also appear to the first time listener that this C.D. is monotonous. But if you listen to their C.D.’s more than once, I guarantee it will grow on you and become very addicting. I used to think their music needed some texture and maybe even a little melody. Well, for this album, Lamb of God added texture by making the vocals more diverse. And melody? If they added melody to their songs (i.e. make the verses heavy and the choruses melodic, or vise versa), they would be just like any other popular metal band right now. The constant heaviness, plus the persistent double bass drumming and Cookie Monster vocals, make this band stand out from other New Wave of American Heavy Metal bands.

    The only flaw I can find in this album is that Randy Blythe’s vocals are very one-dimensional. He is constantly angry (that’s the only emotion he uses). Other than that, this C.D. is perfect, from front to back. This is essential listening for fans of thrash, metalcore, New Wave of American Heavy Metal, death metal, and/or fans who are new to those genres. Actually, it’s essential listening for any metalhead! If enjoy any kind of heavy music (except rap-core), you should find “Ashes of the Wake” to your liking.

    In conclusion, this is a great album, easily one of the best of 2004, and Lamb of God are one of the few bands who jumped to a major label without selling out. “Ashes of the Wake” proves they are still as catchy, contagious, addictive, brutal, and all around great as they ever were. This is about as good as metal gets.

    Posted on February 2, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now