The past few years were very eventful for American metal band Lamb of God. The trials and tribulations began in the summer of 2012, when lead vocalist Randy Blythe was arrested for pushing a fan off a stage in 2010, which lead to the fan succumbing to his injuries. The band took a hiatus following Blythe’s arrest and acquittal the following year before entering the studio in late 2014 to record the follow-up to 2012’s Resolution. That album brought forth much of the same intensity and fervour that Lamb of God was known for after two somewhat weaker efforts. VII: Sturm und Drang proves that Lamb of God was none the worse for wear.
VII: Sturm und Drang, released on July 24, debuted at No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was No. 1 on the Canadian new album charts.
The album begins with the lead single, “Still Echoes,” a ferocious groove metal song which makes the fears of fans vanish as the band returns to what they do best. Drummer Chris Adler proves why he is one of the best in the business, with infectious rhythms that are the perfect background for their cacophony.
The lyrics of the song relate to Blythe’s experiences in prison, as do others on this album such as “512,” named after his cell number. “512” is the second single released from this album and, although a slower number, the agonizing nature of Blythe’s vocals when delivering lines such as “My hands are painted red, my future’s painted black” makes the track one of the heaviest on the album. “Erase This,” the fourth single of the album, is reminiscent of the band’s third album, Ashes of the Wake. Guitarist Mark Morton thought the riffing to be akin to “Laid to Rest” off that album and it continues the sonic assault of early in the album. The band took a U-turn with the third single, “Overlord,” which brought an unusual doom element to Lamb of God that hearkens to bands such as Alice in Chains and Deftones, from which Chino Moreno makes a guest appearance in the song “Embers.” The song showcases Blythe stepping out of his comfort zone and utilizing his clean vocals, resulting in voice’s haunting and brooding qualities when he’s not performing his trademark screams. “Anthropoid” continues the second half of the album with “Overlord,” nothing more than classic Lamb of God fan fare, with a chanting chorus and Blythe’s much-improved vocal delivery.
“Engage the Fear Machine” describes the album the best with its lyric “business as usual,” ending with a calm and clean guitar section after much of the song is in the classic mould. “Delusion Pandemic” pays homage to the band’s thrash influences and along with “Torches,” a song about a student setting himself on fire in protest, leave a lasting impression that Lamb of God has come back to life after an eventful past few years and two unspectacular albums. The band has yet to compromise their sound for anyone and, if this album is any indication, they will continue to deliver quality metal albums for years to come.