[CD Review] Lamb of God, 'Wrath' (Epic)

I love thrash metal, but I can count on one hand the number of metal albums released since 1995 that I want to listen to repeatedly. Call me old and in the way, but I don’t know anyone older than 24 (19 for women) who can take the Cookie Monster vocals of most modern speed and thrash bands seriously. Add to that a seriously lacking sense of dynamics or melody, with a compressed, industrial drum sound that lacks any feeling, and you’ve got a genre that has forgotten how to ride ?the lightning.

During an interview with Slayer guitarist Kerry King a couple of years ago, I asked him if there were any new bands he liked. He admitted a strong preference for the classics, but he mentioned he liked Lamb of God. So here we are, with high hopes and a recommendation from a master.

The intro, “The Passing,” sports acoustic guitars, a buildup that includes some feeling in the drums and a sense of tension. Promising. “In Your Words” rips hell out of that quiet moment with a great riff. I found myself liking it despite the vocals—which were more pterodactyl than Cookie Monster. On the track “Fake Messiah,” you can marvel at the switch between the Cookie Monster yell of “Fake!” and the Sam-Kinison-shitting-glass scream of “Messiah!” And I can no longer hold in the laughter or be objective.

This is thrash metal at its tightest. There is excellent, head-spinningly fast and intense music all over Wrath. The guitar work is electric and fierce, and the bass holds on tight and lashes out a few times. Even the drums have some spirit. But they lost me when they stopped being an instrumental band back in ?the mid-’90s.

 
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