‘VII: Sturm und Drang’ is Lamb of God’s first album since singer Randy Blythe’s arrest and subsequent prison time in Prague three years ago, after the singer was accused of manslaughter when a Czech fan died during a 2010 concert. Although the metal front man was eventually acquitted of all charges, the whole turn of events had a massive impact on the growling grunter and his fellow band members. And what better therapy to deal with this traumatic experience than to write a furiously angry and ridiculously heavy album? On ‘VII: Sturm und Drang‘, the quintet from Richmond, Virginia sounds as intense and inspired as ever.
Standouts are ‘Still Echoes‘ and ‘512‘, the first two singles of the album and not coincidentally also the songs Blythe wrote while spending the month of July 2012 locked up in cell 512 of Prague’s Pankrác Prison. Yet there is also room for more melody, especially in the new single’ Overlord‘, which is the closest the band has come to a powerballad. Low and behold, Blythe is actually singing instead of grunting here! Also slightly more melodic is ‘Embers’, a duet with Deftones-singer Chino Moreno. It’s great for Deftones-fans but won’t convince you if you didn’t like Chino’s style before.
Throughout the album guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler come with a dazzling arsenal of riffs, and Chris Adler’s drumming is just downright bizarre. Adler is going to have a few busy years in front of him as he is now of course also the new drummer for Megadeth. Lyrically Blythe once again comes up with interesting subjects. ‘Footprints‘ combines great powermetal with a strong ecological message, while ‘Anthropoid‘ is about a group of fallen Czech World War II heroes. During his time in Prague Randy heard about the heroes of Operation Anthropoid. This group of paratroopers successfully assassinated a high ranking Nazi who was nicknamed The Butcher of Prague. They paid for this with their lives, and Anthropoid is Blythe’s tribute to them.
The last two tracks on ‘VII: Sturm und Drang‘ may be as strong as the rest of the album, but that’s a luxury problem. The only other issue with this album is that you feel these guys have it in them to come up with an even better album. With their fantastic riffs, relentless heaviness and unbelievable musicianship, Lamb of God have everything it takes to deliver an album that’s up there with timeless classics as Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power or Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss. Lamb Of God may not be at that level of greatness just yet, but ‘VII: Sturm und Drang‘ is the closest the band has been so far.