In the very first moment of "Straight For The Sun," a drawn gasp prefaces a gates-of-Hell entrance of doom and power, an immediate promise of assault and darkness from Lamb of God's seventh studio album, Resolution. The Virginia quintet fill that promise in spades throughout the albums 14 tracks with a blizzard of urgently aggressive riff-heavy sluggers and a refreshingly raw production approach that flies in the face of the slick Pro-Tools commercials that most metal albums serve as these days. Is it an accident that we're hearing the heaviest riffs since 2003's "Vigil"? Not likely.
LOG recruited Wrath" producer Josh Wilbur once again to work the knobs, balancing the relentless pummeling with a measure of command on the boards that prevents the sounds from digging into the muddy middles that can (and does) easily befall the band's contemporaries. The impact is crisp and brutal, with airtight intensity that leaves the listener nearly wishing for a moment's respite.
When "Ghost Walking"'s opening acoustic guitar begins to provide a measure of breathing room, it's deceptively tempting to relax the muscles and set in for a less pulverizing groove. This, of course, is a foolhardy comfort, as the whip-crack spiraling rhythm kicks in and pulls you under.
Check out our interview with Randy Blythe on the making of Resolution and his unique bond with Morton.
If you're searching for sheer anger in your sonic assault, look no further than "The Number Six," an ode to the envious troglodytes that occupy message boards and unleash torrents of anonymous internet criticism without a face of accountability or substance. The chorus chants of "You dug your own grave" bring chills to the spine as Blythe laments the running mouths led by fear-based envy.
Measured experimentation is abundant on Resolution (especially compared to Wrath), with each member intensifying their own performance to add to the greater whole. Blythe doubles down on the guttural nature of his vocals, with a knack for screaming in pitch and in a manner in which you can actually understand the words. Sure, there will always be a few Pantera comparisons plaguing the band, but if stylistic lines are drawn due to the melody in the chorus to a song like “The Number Six,” they can only be complimentary at this stage of the LOG game.
Morton has turned up the heat individually as well, turning out absolutely ripping guitar solos. “The Undertow” showcases some of Mark’s finest fretwork on record, with a stylistic nod towards the Swedish metal outfit At The Gates before a holy shit rewind that! kind of solo. On closer “King Me,” the band’s longest song to date, the riffery goes full-on prog… while backed by an orchestra, no less.
Chris Adler steps up the percussion with shifting time signatures and complexity on songs like the incredible “Invictus” and “Terminally Unique,” and it's his machine-gunning beat pulverization that makes the end of "Desolation" such a gloriously brutal moment.
With a tightrope balance and a perpetual fist in the air, Lamb of God continues to push the envelope of both technique and style with a sound that refuses to fall victim to its own routine. Resolution is more than a collection of kickass power metal jams – it serves as one cohesive piece, a shining example of the benefits yielded to a group of artists who refuse to settle for "good enough". Always evolving, always growing, LOG have once again rewarded fans with the first great metal album of 2012.
CraveOnline Rating: 8 out of 10