In the three years since Randy Blythe’s incarceration in the Czech Republic, the Lamb Of God frontman and his band have faced things that some bands could only imagine in their worst nightmares. Following his arrest, Blythe faced charges of manslaughter relating to the events at a Lamb Of God show in 2010. He spent over a month in a Czech prison before being released, however justice was not granted to the frontman until March 2013.
Enduring events like this, it is a small wonder that just little over three years has elapsed since they released their last album Resolution, a few months before all of these events took place. Their latest offering; the fittingly entitled VII: Sturm Und Drang (German for storm and stress) is an untamed commentary on the band’s feelings on the past few years. Opener Still Echoes directly refers to Blythe’s prison experience- lyrically he harks back to the horrifying things the prison was used for during World War II. “Still echoes of their screams”- a painful reminder of the pain people faced within the very same walls where Randy Blythe spent a month of his life- events he relieved through his own pain and immortalised in this crushing first track.
While Erase This displays Lamb Of God’s untouchable thirst for speedy, lashing riffs, 512 seems to be a little more personal. Still featuring some pulverising work from his band- including an eye watering guitar solo, the track begins with some spoken word which seems to detail some personal feelings about how Blythe viewed himself during his ordeal. “My hands are painted red, my future’s painted black, I can’t recognise myself.”
The hypnotising drum work courtesy of Chris Adler is the staple accomplice Embers needs to give it a burst in the verses that allows it to ascend and tower, reaching its strangely mesmeric yet still brutal peak with Deftones’ Chino Moreno’s guest appearance on vocals towards the end.
Overlord is a breeding ground for grungy, rolling riffs, clean vocals and even some moments of classic rock- before all hell breaks loose again and in true Lamb Of God fashion, they prove they can’t let the pace drop for even one song. The venom in Engage The Fear Machine as Blythe snarls about paranoia and ‘business as usual’ seems to be a jaded homage to today’s culture and how perverse the media has become in fearmongering and creating unnecessary uproar- a stark reminder that even away from prison as free people, there are still many undesirable forces at work.
As final track Torches rolls around, featuring Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan, it encapsulates the darkness of the album as a whole; chugging guitars underline tortured, distorted echoes as Blythe provides a spoken introduction before the track crashes into its final wave, this time covering topics of sacrifice and self-immolation. As the album quietly fades to its end, a shell-shocked feeling ensues, as well as a sense of poignancy mixed with the burdening thought of the horrors that can face humanity throughout life. It is a dark concept upon which VII: Sturm Und Drang is based, however where would Lamb Of God be if life was just a bed of roses?
VII: Sturm Und Drang is out July 24th via Nuclear Blast.