Lamb of God are back with a vengeance on their seventh studio album under that moniker. It’s technically eight if you’re feeling awesome and include their true debut as Burn The Priest (a wicked record that still holds up by the way). Fuelled lyrically by singer Randy Blythe’s 2012 arrest and stay in a lovely Czech Republic prison while he faced manslaughter charges: VII: Sturm und Drang is appropriately the most in depth and emotionally charged offering that Lamb of God has ever produced.
Sturm und Drang translates to ‘Storm and Stress’. Although the lyrics won’t directly reference the specific challenges that Blythe faced on a daily basis while he was locked up in a foreign prison, the album does capture what he was feeling when faced with the possibility that he may never get out.
Even though Blythe was eventually acquitted of the charge (see the unbelievable documentary chronicling the events in ‘As the Palaces Burn’), he still lives with the fact that a fan died tragically during one of the band’s shows. The mood and tone of VII: Sturm und Drang has captured the emotions that both Blythe and his bandmates were going through during that extremely stressful time in their lives.
The end result: One heavy as shit, badass and brutally satisfying effort that holds up to my favorite albums in the early Lamb of God discography. I will honestly say that I wasn’t satisfied with the guys’ previous two releases: Wrath and Resolution. Both seemed lacking and uneven at times and I was disconnected with the material itself. Not that I had to get locked up in jail in order to feel more attached to Sturm und Drang, but the band just seemed like they had more drive and fire behind them this go-around.
There’s also a historic first for Lamb of God here: clean vocals. Blythe sings, for the first time cleanly on the song ‘Overlord’. I was skeptical at first, like all snobby metal assholes can be, but it really worked out. If anything, hearing Blythe sound like a human being before transitioning into his signature devilish growl during the final moments, only adds to the intensity and in a way the track becomes even heavier because of the build-up.
If you consider this move a sell-out, don’t get it twisted, Lamb of God are heavier than ever. The breakdowns now turn into nasty as hell solos as opposed to straight-forward chugging riffs which add layers to the music in ways I’ve not heard before from Lamb of God. Sturm und Drang is a fierce and emotionally exhausting metal album from a band re-energized and ready to reclaim their throne as metal’s finest; this era’s Pantera reincarnated.