Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lamb of God - As the Palaces Burn

Haters gonna hate

I know Lamb of God is an easy target for a lot of die hard metalheads.  They are a very popular band who play a groovy, Pantera styled metal with plenty of breakdowns. A lot of what makes them Lamb of God is exactly what purists despise.  I'm not gonna sit here and play the open minded card, I'm just gonna concede that I like some shitty music and then praise the hell out of the band.

This here, As the Palaces Burn currently ranks as the band's best.  The aggression is always kept up to a really blistering tempo and always manages to let the percussion carry it very well in order to create a very punchy experience.  Chris Adler is by far the highlight of the band, keeping his patterns interesting during all of the breakdowns and slower parts while also keeping the adrenaline up to full pace during the fast sections.  I've noticed a lot of people who dislike this album usually seem to concede that the drum performance is at least pretty good, and it's no accident.  The riffs are mainly a blend between Pantera worship, hardcore, and occasionally thrash.  If that doesn't sound appealing to you, actually hearing the riffs won't change your mind.  That said, they are deceptively complex, well written, and catchy (Which I believe is the main thing I can attribute to their mainstream appeal.  Kids love something angsty they can hum).  Randy Blythe catches a lot of flak for his Phil Anselmo impersonation but it really does fit with the hardcore nuances, and I really couldn't imagine the band with anybody else behind the mic.

Despite all of the individuals' styles meshing together fairly well in the context of the songwriting, this album is still far from perfect.  There's a pretty dull stretch from "For Your Malice" to "Blood Junkie".  "A Devil in God's Country" stands out a bit during that lull but not too horribly much.  Unfortunately, that stretch takes up five tracks out of a ten track album, (And honestly, I think the only reason "11th Hour" doesn't fit in this area is because it's right before it and right before I start to get bored).  Strangely this dip in the songwriting department is bookended  by some rather creative pieces of work.  "Purified" and "As the Palaces Burn" are high tempo rippers, carrying some of that much beloved thrash swagger, "Ruin" boasts one of the better breakdowns the band has put to tape, and "Vigil" is a great and varied song, beginning with a good, haunting acoustic intro, followed by a not quite successful attempt at doom, and finishing with a monstrously thrashy and mosh friendly riffset that completely makes up for the mediocre middle part.

It's hard to write about Lamb of God, it really is.  The music community is very, very polarized when it comes to the band.  One half throws accusations of elitism while the other accuses the former group of thickheaded noobiness.  This is all a dissertation for another day though.  Overall, I find As the Palaces Burn to be enjoyable yet flawed.  There's a crippling lack of variety in the middle that sucks a lot of enjoyment out of the full listening experience, but the good tracks are fantastic if you're just looking for a quick fix.  This isn't for everybody, but it's worth at least a try.

RATING - 74%

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