Sound — 7
New American Gospel is the first album from the guys under the name Lamb of God. It is mistaked by far too many as a death metal act. It may be dark, heavy, and mostly impossible to understand without the lyrics book (and sometimes even with it), but it is within the boundries of metalcore. Right. The sound. Kinda crap really. Too bleak for my liking. Most songs here are good, don't get me wrong, but, as with many metalcore/post-thrash groups before it, it can get too heavy for it's own good in places. But if you want to make your ears bleed, and you want a change from Machine Head and Pantera and co., then get this. Get the reissued one, because it has the bonus track "Nippon", which uses heaviness to it's full advantage, along with "Black Label" and "Letter To The Unborn".
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics here are very good, but the way they are sang can really ruin the sound of the music, I mean, take "Black Label" and "Subtle Arts" where he doesn't even sing the lyrics right. As a matter of fact, Blythe was drunk when they recorded this. And they only had one day to record as well. But his vocals improve on later albums, so if you want something to sing along to get Palaces or Ashes or Sacrament. But this was obviously engineered for full on rockers that can stand really really loud stuff. Anyway, as you may or may not know, Randy Blythe can do just about whatever he wants with his demonic voice. So you will know what to expect on tracks like "Black Label", "Pariah", and "Confessional" when he, as if by magic, turns his low growl to an ear piercing screech in like a milli-second. That's what stops me giving the lyrics a 5, because it's so cool to listen to, and it sound brilliant.
Overall Impression — 9
It was the first LoG album I bought, so I expected the other two (Ashes and Palaces, Sacrament wasn't even thought up back then) to be heavier. But that's what's so decieving about the band with this album. It's harldy anything like the later ones. Anyway, if I had to pick three songs from this album, it would be "Black Label", "The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion" and "Letter to the Unborn". "Black Label" has the cutting edge aggression, and is also the fixture at the end of most of their shows. "A Warning" is my least favorite song from the album, mainly because it's only got like three riffs in it so it's really boring. "In The Abscence Of The Sacred" is all about how technology is taking over, how life is "Digitized, itemized, and commidofied". Quite good, but you'll go off it after a while. "Letter To The Unborn" is blisteringly fast, and basically just awesome. But there are no lyrics for it in the booklet, so it might as well just be instrumental. "The Black Dahlia" is a confusing title, as it refers to a murder in the 80s that police still can't solve today, but the lyrics go on about an evil being of poverty and decay. Quite good, but not the best song here. "Terror and Hubris" is overlong. The start and end are really long and boring, but the middle is kind of okay. Features a guy called Steve Austin. I don't know if this is the wrestler Steve Austin, or just some unknown random guy. But his screams make Blythe sound boring on this one, which is bad because there's more Blythe than Austin here. "The Subtle Arts" has a creepy intro, so listen to it at night on your own. that's what I do. Anyway, this has a load of cool riffs and vocals and is my number two from the whole album. "Pariah" is the most aggressive in terms of lyrics. I love the bit where he's screaming for ages and then the music just stops and he goes "F--k off and die", I find that really cool and quite funny. "Confessional" has an overlong, but catchy beginning. There is this awesome bit somewhere in the middle where it all just stops and then Blythe goes as high as he can while the music around him pulses up to an amazing 352 bpm. that's what I love about this song. "ODHGABFE" stands for 'Officer Dick Head Gets A Black f--king Eye' and is all about police. Cool. Would have been a favorite but "Letter To The Unborn" is slightly better. Good riffs in this one. If you have the reissue, you will have "Nippon". Something about Japan, which is why it was originally on the Japanese version on this album. Crazy vocals here, and a truly addictive track altogether. Also, three pointless demoes on the reissue that I won't waste my time on. Overall, New American Gospel is a good (official) debut for a great band. You won't want to start with this, instead start with "Ashes Of The Wake". But overall, great effort. Rock on.