Every now and then there is that “game changer” of an album in the metal world. An album that is so revolutionary that it becomes hard to imagine what metal sounded like before it. Unfortunately, Lamb of God’s newest release, Resolution, is not such an album.
Lamb of God, hailing from Richmond, Virginia is one of the front-runners in the current American metal scene and considered by many to be the catalyst for the scene’s growth. With the release New American Gospel in 2000(the first album the band released under the name Lamb of God) the Nü-metal of the 1990s was thrown to the curb along with its rap and hip-hop influences, and metal returned to its roots of riff based song structures, heavy grooves, and dark tonalities. Lamb of God continued on this track until their 2005 release Sacrament. Their most produced and lush sounding album, Sacrament was full of twists and turns but it caused a large rift within their fan base. It was no less aggressive than their prior releases but many fans didn’t like the slick, layered, and over-produced feel of the album.
Resolution can be seen as a step back to the original Lamb of God, it is grittier sounding than 2005’s Sacrament and a little more focused than 2009’s Wrath. The album opens on a rather atypical note with “Straight For the Sun,” a stomping, sludgey, southern metal jam. But as soon as the second track, “Desolation,” kicks in it becomes abundantly clear that Lamb of God is still going strong. Much of Resolution is full of catchy hooks, throat ripping vocals, and more groove than your father had back in the 1970s. But, as usual, Lamb of God tweaks the formula just the slightest bit. The intro track “Straight for the Sun,” intermission-esque track “Barbarosa,” the clean vocal featuring “Insurrection,” and the almost overly produced album finisher “King Me” all deviate slightly from the tried and true L.o.G. formula.
All in all, Resolution is a great album but Lamb of God seems to have stayed too much in their comfort zone, which is not necessarily a bad thing. 2011 saw the release of many an album so radically different from a band’s usual sound that fans felt betrayed (Mastodon’s The Hunter and Opeth’s Heritage come most readily to mind), but the deviations of Resolution were a little subtler. The most obvious change is in the vocals. Randy Blythe’s voice somehow manages to get more and more brutal and evil sounding with every release, it might have lost the raw feel from the New American Gospel and Ashes of the Wake era, but it is far more controlled and as a result more pulverizing. The largest complaint about Resolution, aside from the lack of experimentation, is how many of the guitar riffs feel like filler and are uninteresting in and of themselves. It is unfair to say that the guitar parts are not quite as complex or quite as brutal as some of Lamb of God’s earlier riffs, because the focus has shifted from instrumental technical prowess to creating a more cohesive song as a whole.
Love it or hate it, Resolution can best be described as standard Lamb of God. No surprises here, but plenty of chills and thrills to be had. I’d have to give it a 4/5 because while there is nothing truly wrong with the album, it seems that Lamb of God has become content with their current position as one of America’s biggest metal bands and does not want to risk it all by releasing a totally different sounding album. But hey, it’s better not to be let down by another LuLu, right guys?
- Nick Hoffman