CD Review: Lamb of God - Resolution

CD Review: Lamb of God - Resolution
All Access Review: B+

Completely parched and barren, save for a large fire in the distance sending plumes of black smoke into a gray sky, the cracked, dusty wasteland that graces the cover of Lamb of God’s latest epistle of nihilism, violence, betrayal and death – among other shiny, happy subjects – speaks volumes about the Virginia death-metal destroyers’ world view. That is to say, Lamb of God doesn’t seem to hold out much hope for civilization. With lines like “despair is in an endless supply” and “obliteration never looked so divine,” – culled from the tracks “Invictus” and “Ghost Walking,” respectively – Resolution is a world without pity. What could rise to become a prophetic voice crying in the wilderness for people to change their evil ways, Resolution reads more like an instrument of surrender or a suicide note.
Our darker impulses are too strong to resist. They will consume us. We will lie, cheat, kill, lose hope, find solace in the most dangerous of drugs, and then die of apathy and an aversion to truth. Sometimes, the bleak poetry of Lamb of God has a certain confrontational beauty to it – lyrics such as “stoic in silence we’re blind inside the void” touching a very tender societal nerve. But, when the famous Johnny Rotten line, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” is appropriated in the song “Cheated,” you get the feeling Lamb of God sometimes gives up trying to be original. When they later invoke the “legacy of brutality” phrase that perhaps should have been left to The Misfits later in “Cheated” … well, they just don’t appear to be trying anymore.
Of course, one song is a small sample size. Still, when it comes to Lamb of God, you take the good with the bad, and Resolution, a throwback to the rawer, more brutal recordings of their earlier work, offers a little of both. On balance, however, it blows away your expectations, Resolution forming a massive hunk of burning, twisted thrash metal that rarely cools. The constant stream of guttural, growling vocals – the so-called “Cookie Monster” style of singing that seems to divide the metal community right down the middle – often detracts from the dizzying array of frenzied, ferociously riffs, whiplash dynamics and punishing, acrobatic rhythms that make new Lamb of God recordings such an interesting proposition.
Blindingly fast one minute and crushingly heavy the next, “Invictus,” with its thick, snaking grooves, is a prime example of their ability to change directions seamlessly and drag you by the collar to whatever hell awaits them and you around the next turn. Pressing the accelerator, Lamb of God wants to go even faster on the lean-and-mean, breathtaking police chase that is “Cheated,” reaching Mach 10 most the way – its flies by with such speed that it’s almost impossible to notice the lyrical missteps. Slower and somehow more insidious, “Insurrection” pummels the solar plexus with double-bass drum madness and then rises like a monstrous rogue wave to do damage to whatever small vessel is in its path. Still, after the adrenaline boosts of “Invictus” and “Cheated,” it sounds labored, as if Lamb of God is physically drained from all that came before it.
And there is a whole lot of prologue to dig through before arriving at that exhausted state. The sludgy, bulldozing opener “Straight for the Sun” – which almost dares anybody to attempt to be heavier than that – simply plows into the beehive of activity that is “Desolation,” a track that is pure pandemonium. The occasional wraith of twin-guitar melody appears out of the chaos in “Desolation,” and it’s a welcome bit of comfort in an atmosphere of destructive chaos, much like the acoustic intro to the hard-hitting “Ghost Walking” absorbs some of pain from the beating Lamb of God doles out in “Guilty.” 
Resolution is an interesting title for Lamb of God’s seventh studio effort, not counting the eponymous debut album they recorded as Burn the Priest. Surely, they don’t offer any answers to society’s ills, and while some of their lyrics advocates a self-sufficient, “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” philosophy that is empowering, Lamb of God also seems resigned to seeing life as full of agony and pain and perhaps not worth the trouble. That said, for the most part, the band seems revitalized and incredibly agile at this point in their development, even if Resolution – one of the most hotly anticipated heavy metal albums of 2012 – occasionally masks the band’s stunted songwriting growth and decaying melodic structure with stormy bluster and nonstop action. They have yet to craft a truly memorable song, something every one of the Big 4 can do in their sleep. Still, when vocalist Randy Blythe screams, “I am the one who’s left to take the fall” in “The Undertow,” a stunning amalgamation of blitzing, unrelenting riffage and quick tempo changes, you can’t help but be mesmerized by the power and the rage Lamb of God can barely control. 
- Peter Lindblad

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