For the next 10 weeks Vulture Hound will be looking back at 10 albums which turn 10 years old in 2016. This week Lee Hazel wishes Lamb of God’s Sacrament a happy 10th birthday.
Lamb of God exploded in popularity with their album Sacrament, their most melodic and mainstream album yet. But just because it was the album most tolerable to the ears of the masses, that didn’t mean that it was for wimps. Randy Blyth still screams like a banshee, Campbell pounds the drums like they owe him money, and Adler and Morton still rouse Dimebag from his eternal slumber as he raises an intrigued eyebrow to their immensely groovy shredding.
This is a cleaner, smoother listen without sacrificing the edge they worked so hard to sharpen. It’s a case of eating your cake and having it, rather than negotiating the terms of their artistry. I mean, even the word ‘compromised’ only appears along the words ‘pathetic’, ‘wasted’ and ‘soulless’.
‘Walk With Me In Hell’ opens the album in lavish style with a majestic riff that introduces the listener to the kind of melody they can look forward to throughout the album. Too bad nothing in the next 40 minutes will top it. The Grammy-nominated ‘Redneck’ has an intro that knocks Pantera’s ‘Walk’ off of its groove metal perch. Certainly the catchiest riff of its generation, it inspires air-guitar in a way we don’t get much of from 21st-century musicians.
It’s the fact that Lamb of God aren’t afraid to take a step back and slow things down that raises them (and pretty much any metal band worth a damn) a step above everyone else. The structure of their songwriting helps distinguish where one song ends and another begins, (that sounds like a basic concept, but is actually few and far between in this kind of hardcore) and propels them to the level of their fellow elites.
The lyrics are typically antagonistic, taking shots at the religion that would inspire the band’s name. They gladly shine a light on what they believe to be the hypocrisy of organised religion, an institution which, according to the beliefs they enforce upon others, is damned for its bigotry and exploitation by its own God.
Sacrament stands as a defiant and nihilistic rebel yell, bookended by two of the most epic tracks Lamb of God have ever written. It shows that maturity doesn’t have to be the death of hard, fast and aggressive music, nor the end of a truly epic band. Instead it’s the album that shows the blossoming of Lamb of God.