Lamb Of God has always been teetering on the verge of greatness. They arguably reached what many consider to be their peak with 2004’s Ashes Of The Wake, but it’s not exactly been a downward trajectory since then. They received a Grammy nomination for their song Redneck from the Sacrament album and although their last album Wrath divided fans (some of whom considered it to be a sub-par effort) it was still a vicious experience.
Resolution goes some way to addressing the concerns of those who considered Wrath to be an indication that the band had run out of ideas and were simply resting on their laurels.
Straight For The Sun introduces the album with a monumentally heavy and slow riff that wouldn’t sound out of place of the filthiest Melvins albums. Vocalist Randy Blyth wastes no time in screaming bloody gore over the relentless grind, proving that he’s lost none of his edge or ability vocalise the sound of an overheating sandblaster.
The pace soon increases when Desolation picks up where Straight For The Sun left off and cranks the tempo up considerably. Thundering double-kick drums drive a menacing stabbing riff that soon develops into a blurred frenzy. It’s a thrilling headlong charge into finely-tuned, lowslung thrash territory and allows guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler to trade off perfectly.
The acoustic intro to Ghost Walking is a rare concession to something other than all out assault, but it soon gives way to yet another colossal riff that calls to mind the much missed Scissorfight. Guilty and The Undertow meanwhile give some early credence to the idea that Lamb Of God perhaps don’t have the capacity to move beyond their earlier material and on to something truly devastating. On their own terms, they’re both perfectly executed deep-grooved thrashers, with The Undertow in particular showcasing some blistering solo work, but it all feels like a band operating well within their comfort zone.
Yet there are hints that something is beginning to change. The Number Six for example starts life in typical frantic fashion but builds towards a rapturous chorus that’s more open and expansive than the usual control exerted by the band. Insurrection finds Blyth switching back and forth between his guttural roaring and his rarely utilised singing voice. Coupled with a series of riffs that call to mind Pantera in their pomp, and a willingness to explore a wider range of dynamics than found on the likes of Guilty, it is clear evidence that Lamb Of God still make vital music.
Album closer King Me finds the band in fairly experimental mode. It’s as close as they’ve come to a prog-rock exploration, although the addition of a choir and an orchestra gives it an almost Gothic sound at times. Naturally there’s plenty of concrete slab riffing thrown in for good measure, but it’s the epic melody provided by the orchestra that is the real payoff.
Elsewhere there’s plenty of straight-ahead pummelling riffs to be found in the likes of Invictus, the relentless barrage of Terminally Unique or the hardcore frenzy of Cheated to keep the fans of the no-frills thrills happy.
So does Resolution find the band returning with a career defining masterpiece? Not really. It consolidates what’s gone before comprehensively, and occasionally points towards where the band might be headed. If they were to take King Me as a launching point for the future, they could have something truly epic on their hands.