The new wave of American heavy metal pioneers, LAMB OF GOD, just dropped a new studio album – their ninth – on October 7th, 2022, via Nuclear Blast. After a few spins, I found it rather ironic that their previous eponymous studio album, released amidst the global pandemic in 2020, offered at least a glimmer of hope, whereas this new effort really does not. After all, by the looks of it, we’re slowly entering the post-pandemic world where everything should be more or less back to normal. Then again, the ”normal” was not perhaps really worth coming back to and the new LAMB OF GOD album, “Omens,” drives the point home with such vehemence that it leaves not much room for objection. Amongst all the metal bands that have a knack for writing requiems for the dying world, LAMB OF GOD is one of the most fierce, relentless, and unforgiving in terms of delivery; their music is all about sheer sound and fury. We may be doomed already but these groove-metal ruffians make it sound, well, groovy, so that you want to dive into the pit and punch the air with your fists while watching the world burn.
The album opens with “Nevermore,” a maelstrom of spiraling, in-your-face guitar riffs that unfolds like one of those bad dreams where you keep falling forever. Rather befittingly, the song pays homage to the master of Gothic horror, Edgar Allan Poe, with its title bowing to Poe’s 1845 poem The Raven. In the lyrics, we encounter this fabled spirit animal of bad omens casting a shadow over our ghetto world here and screaming – or croaking – bloody vengeance there, as though making social commentary on America’s (if not the whole world’s) slow descent into madness. Technically, the album opens with a straight-up knock-out in the first round and you may feel tempted to put the song on repeat right off the bat before proceeding to the other songs.
Nowadays, an album with two or three bangers is considered a good album. So, basically, two tracks into the album, “Omens” would already qualify as one. The thing is, LAMB OF GOD sure knows how to weave compelling riff origamis and Randy Blythe‘s scathing snarls never let you down. On “Vanishing,” the steamrolling groove-metal riffathon side-steps into the thrash realms here and there, maintaining the premium quality throughout while resonating with the air of the more uptempo bangers from their previous two outings. These riffs sure don’t reek of Saturday-morning cartoons, more like the gnashing of teeth or fire and brimstone on the eve of destruction. By the fourth track, “Ditch,” I found myself running out of superlatives when trying to formulate something sensible to say about the album. It’s almost as though the riffs were punching harder the deeper I plunged into the album. I bet they were.
Amongst all the premium riffs, “Gomorrah” stands out as something even more brilliant. The insufferable cynic in me cannot help but find the chorus of “everything is doomed to fail” especially pleasing, as it is delivered in the form of a sharp jab, straight into the potato trap. If the band’s previous studio outing sounded a little pissed off, as the pandemic had obviously laid bare the cleavages in our society, this new outing does doubly so; the lyrics certainly hit some raw nerves throughout the selection. “Omens” comes off as a rather political album. Then again, these metal alchemists pull it off without sounding pretentious or patronizing; rather, they set up poignant psychological and emotional currents by artistic means only, in that signature style of theirs that we have come to love so much over the years. They could be singing about titties and beer, but I’m sure glad they don’t.
There really isn’t that much more to say about the album; there simply are no weak tracks. As the grand finale, the album closes with “September Song,” which is the closest thing to an ”epic” that this sort of groove-metal onslaught could possibly ever be. If the band’s previous 2020 outing did rather vividly seize our attention upon its release amidst all that global chaos, simply by being so damn brilliant, its successor does not need to settle for playing second fiddle. By way of defying the laws of common decency, it’s even more brilliant.
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- To the Grave
- Ill Designs
- Denial Mechanism
- September Song
John Campbell – bass
Randy Blythe – vocals
Mark Morton – lead guitars
Willie Adler – rhythm guitars
Art Cruz – drums