After having experienced the worst years of their career, having an album called Storm and urge (one of the possible translation according to Wikipedia) seems undoubtedly fitting to define Lamb of God‘s attitude. Having their singer arrested and put into jail in the Czech Republic for his contribution in the death of one of their fan during a show could have destroyed the band but it seems to have made them even more determined to play music. For a band accustomed to playing arenas, starting a new album with some blast beat is also proof of their determination. Much like Slipknot when they released Iowa and continued their ascension to stardom, Lamb of God does not feel the need to convince who they are and attack the listener with all their determination, making Still echoes a very powerful opener.
Despite the release of a single featuring clean vocals from Randy Blythe, VII: Sturm and drang is in no way Lamb of God’s experimental album. Instead, the band go full-on with the same power and intensity than on their debut album, New american gospel, but with the added wisdom of their years spent writing memorable choruses. Lamb of God is, first and foremost, a metal band that knows what their fans expect of them. There are some surprises here, like the post hardcore twinges on 512 chorus, but they are exceptional. What this album does is re-establish Lamb of God‘s supremacy at what they do, southern groove metal with some added thrash elements.
They do stray away from their sound with Chino Moreno’s (Deftones) participation on Embers. In fact, Moreno’s participation splits the song in two, turning the band into the Deftones featuring Randy Blythe while the beginning could have been a different Lamb of God song.
In comparison, Blythe melodic track on Overlord does not change the sound of the band too much. Unsurprisingly, a vocalist who has spent most of his career screaming his lungs out does not uncover some incredible melodic chops behind the mic, but he does a competent job and does not overdo it. Still, even if the track is coherent, it mostly comes alive at the end when the drums attack with some powerful double bass attack and Blythe returns to his screams.
As for Greg Puciato‘s (The Dillinger Escape Plan) contribution, his voice is reduced to a whisper put into the background across the song, more for its atmospheric rather than it’s melodic qualities. I would argue that his contribution is better than Moreno’s since he adapts his style to make his part move seamlessly into the song whereas Moreno just do he usually does and overpowers the song to make it sound like his own.
Otherwise, VII: Sturm and drang features the same kind of angry and testosterone fueled southern metal that fans like with songs like Still echoes, 512, Anthropoid or Engage the fear machine being welcome addition to the band’s repertoire. Far from a revolution but a strong album made to prove a point to their fans, and to themselves, that they will not be put to the ground by anyone but themselves.