After taking a few albums to establish their modern update of classic thrash and death metal, Lamb of God have reached the top of their game. This album is jampacked with maturing songwriting ideas and increasing instrumental prowess. Sacrament is a little less dramatic, but much more solid, than the nearly-masterful Ashes of the Wake. The band’s crowning glory is still their fearsome rhythm section, with terrifyingly precise drummer Chris Adler and the lowdown gutbucket bass of John Campbell (he’s so low that maybe only Satan can fully hear him). Guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler are improving noticeably, especially with their solos and the creativity of their thrash riffs. Randy Blythe’s vocals continue to be a bit of a drawback, because he sounds pretty stereotypical when he stays in his usual guttural cookie monster growl. However, Blythe is showing signs of greater excitement when he decides to stretch beyond his normal range, and he is certainly rising above the style of today’s standard metal screamer. The politics of Blythe’s lyrics are still muddled, though his sheer angry misanthropy and anti-establishment rants are getting pretty interesting.
Lamb of God’s growth as songwriters can be heard in two extra noteworthy tracks here. “Redneck” adds a sly southern rock twist to a blistering riff, over Blythe’s diatribe about a certain highly-placed (ahem) redneck; while the turgid slow burn of “Descending” offers great drama and a growing sense of dynamics. One recurring problem on Lamb of God’s previous albums was that songs would become sluggish and repetitive after the initial riffs outlived their usefulness, but here that problem is mostly avoided through more creative arrangements, except in parts of “Walk With Me in Hell” (which frankly is not a good choice for album opener), and “Blacken the Cursed Sun.” However, the band is becoming much better at adding occasional quiet passages and creative effects, which make their usual heaviness stand out much more strongly. Examples include the savage one-two punch of “Forgotten (Lost Angels)” and “Requiem,” plus the accurately-titled piledrivers “Foot to the Throat” and “More Time to Kill.” Like the greatest long-lived metal bands, Lamb of God have now transcended their category, and are in a category by themselves. This is the new standard of pure American metal. [~doomsdayer520~]