While Lamb of God’s first four albums have served mostly as catharsis for frustration, 2009’s Wrath and and now their most recent release Resolution have been exercises in creating it. For while they’ve clearly shown they have considerable capacity for artistic growth, their uncharacteristic timidness in embracing it will have the listener bellowing back at their speakers (and not in a good way).
Take the first four tracks for example: opener ‘Straight for the Sun’ is a sludgy crusher that is slower, thicker, and more relentlessly purposeful than anything they’ve ever done before, and for it’s two and half minutes you feel like the band is really going to push themselves for this album. Then the next three songs are nothing but landfill groove metal tracks that at this point the band can write in their sleep. After that the heights hinted at in the beginning are briefly revisited again and again only to be cruelly discarded. ‘The Number Six’ mixes various dynamics to make it one of the most exciting parts of the album, including a moody bass-driven section that actually brings Tool to mind, and follows that with the excellent semi-acoustic interlude of ‘Barbarossa’, yet they’re surrounded by tedious filler that’s miles within their comfort zone. Other flashes of brilliance like ‘Terminally Unique’ and the symphonic ‘King Me’ are similarly mixed in with snoozefests like ‘Cheated’ and ‘To The End’.
The individual performances are similarly a mixed bag. Randy Blythe’s vocals have lost some of the punk snarl of their early work but make up for it in raw ferocity, while drummer Chris Adler is a supremely steady pair of hands as ever, but guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler are missing the tension and energy that defined early Lamb of God records. Overall it’s a frustrating but not totally disappointing effort, one hopes the band will finally be ready to stop taking baby steps on their next record.