VII: Sturm und Drang review by Lamb of God

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  • Released: Jul 24, 2015
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.9 (86 votes)
Lamb of God: VII: Sturm und Drang
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Sound — 6
"VII: Sturm und Drang" is album number eight for modern day legends Lamb of God, the follow up to 2012's "Resolution," an album that gained a rather average reception on release. Following the hubbub of Randy Blythe's arrest and temporary incarceration in the Czech Republic where he spent most of his year, this album has been touted as containing subject matter pertaining to the event.

Lamb of God are no doubt one of the more popular metal bands around, and despite significant mainstream attention, have never had to compromise their sound because of it. Ever since "Ashes of the Wake," they've stuck to a very thrash inspired, difficult-to-master, mid-tempo and blues riffy core sound. Along the way, they've picked up some minor but noteworthy additions and "Sturm und Drang" continues in part with Randy Blythe's new found love of clean singing.

As with every LoG album, we start with what is almost always the best (or one of the best) songs on the album, "Still Echoes." Brash, ballsy, taking little time to introduce itself, it sets everything up for a potentially explosive album. And follow up "Erase This," which is in itself a nice slice of grooving old-school melodeath, certainly holds the same promise. Also possibly the first time where Randy's gang vocals have actually been effective. Also (also), one of the best uses of auto-wah you'll likely hear in a metal song.

And there's certainly a lot of detail to like in "Sturm und Drang." Aforementioned "Erase This" has one of Mark Morton's best guitar solo's to date. "Embers" has the first inclusion of Randy Blythe's clean vox, bringing out his inner Phil Anselmo, and there's a certain sparkly, technical edge to the riffs that makes them feel incredibly memorable, but not the most inventive.

"Overlord" begins with a sober and dare I say, uplifting clean riff which flows very nicely into this near-7 minute groove ballad. It's a nice inclusion on album like this, for many probably reasons, but the main one being this is one of Blythe's finest vocal performances yet, in both fields.

Overall, there's a lot to like. But there has to come a point where listening to the 3rd reiteration of "Sacrament" gets on the tedious side. For every strong track on display, there's one that's equally uninteresting either because it feels like "just another LoG" song or because it's own detail is rather lacking. Songs like "512" and "Footprints" are easy to skip, and you'd be right in wanting to, as they're just a bit too bland. "Delusion Pandemic" (after the initial barrage wears off) and a couple of others unfortunately do the same. Something to ask yourself, what is this indicative of? Is it really enough to add clean vocals to a concept and be done with it? The answer is not really.

There's some kind of spark missing from this album's collection of tracks and it's to do with some of the guitar parts. Think of their live staple tracks, things like "Walk With Me in Hell" and "Grace," songs that delve into really great, unique sounding lead parts, melodic ideas and transitions on top of being really good songs. There's just something like that missing, a certain progressive edge that previous albums had that got swapped for some of LoG's earlier aggression. One step forward, one step back, nothing has been gained.

Production wise, it absolutely has not changed since "Ashes of the Wake." Sure, various tones have been altered slightly and everyone's performances have just grown better over time, but we have a positive classic case of "aint broke, don't fix it." Thankfully, Chris Adlers awful snare sound has grown up a bit and isn't as St. Anger-y as say, "Wrath." Basically, the gift wrapping gets slightly snazzier every release.

Lyrics — 8
Randy Blythe has always remained distinctive for his difficult-to-replicate half-hardcore, half-death metal vocal style. And certainly, he's one of the few vocalists that can be heard in today's more popular metal grouping that has got better as time goes on, especially from their peak during the mid "Sacrament"/"Wrath" years. Better technique, more ease and somehow something that can only be described as "more professionalism" in his vocal delivery. Pluses all round.

Even his clean vocals have made gains as well, and his highlight recording on "Overlord" follows the same standard, and is perhaps something we'll hear more of in the future. Some might be turned off by this approach but everything in small steps, as they say.

The two guest vocalists on this album, Chino Moreno and Greg Puciato of Deftones and Dillinger Escape Plan fame respectively, are a comfortable if not especially amazing inclusion. "Embers" has the right fit for a clean vocal setup, but Chino's more drifting, drawn out and softer vocal style doesn't quite fit the more energetic composition, making it waaay less memorable that it aught to be. Greg Pucatio's ethereally crafted performance is not mired by this problem, although his presence is unfortunately brief.

Lyrically, as was previously alluded to, much of this album describes Blythe's emotive mindset during his incarceration period, as well as the general lyrical mudflinging that characterizes a lot of LoG's previous work. Not to say that there isn't a certain, definite eloquence and awareness in the lyrical themes and presentation, but this is the band that brought you "Redneck," a song about hating on that one guy who cut you off in traffic/stabbed your baby/did something equally as morally reprehensible and basically agrees with you that yeah, that guy was a dick.

Still, some tracks like "Still Echoes" and "Overlord" handle their respective matters very well.

Overall Impression — 7
So, we're basically at the point where we've got "another" LoG album. It's still the same band doing mostly the same things, improvements all round but lacking a certain song-writing spark that has dampened the strength of the album as a whole. Still, it begins and ends well, but it probably wont change opinions on the band that much.

Songs to look out for: "Still Echoes," "Erase This," "Embers," "Overlord," "Torches."

61 comments sorted by best / new / date

    cemerson2012
    This album is not as big a step backwards as the review would lead on. Sure the core sound is still relatively the same and it does not chart much new territory, however the tracks that do have the clean singing are really a highlight for me.
    vppark2
    "So, we're basically at the point where we've got "another" LoG album. It's still the same band doing mostly the same things, improvements all round but lacking a certain song-writing spark that has dampened the strength of the album as a whole. Still, it begins and ends well, but it probably wont change opinions on the band that much." I disagree. I think this is their best, and well crafted material yet. 9/10 for me.
    Gibson_SG_uzr55
    Agreed on 9/10 and possibly agree on it being their best, it's definitely at least just as good as Palaces and Ashes. The three albums before this were all very solid but not much stood out to me on those albums. To call this album the third reiteration of Sacrament is absurd. It's on a different level and is much more interesting.
    SkepsisMetal
    Definitely with you on that one. It is easily one of their strongest yet, in terms of your expected LoG intensity. It hardly lets up in pace at all. Some songs (Footsteps especially) really have a ATPB feel right through them. If anyone has access to the deluxe edition, I would highly recommend listening to Nightmare Seeker. That is a hell of a tune. 9/10 for me
    LifeEchoes
    I'm not going to call it their best because I'm so biased towards As The Palaces Burn ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) but this is definitely a close second for me. It's melodic, heavy, almost grungey at times in the case of "Overlord" and then it suddenly kicks into some thrash metal. I'd say the guys from LoG have really outdone themselves this time, this album is gold.
    pressureproject
    I don't get what people like this want....you want Randy to rap or John to start "slapping da bass" ? I wish Megadeth did another 4 or 5 Rust in Peace albums...or Metallica did a few more "Puppets"
    PiercedBand
    This was easily 8/10 for me! Whoever reviewed this apparently doesn't like LoG. How can you skip 512?! And the whole album is unique, that's why I like it so much.
    Sewn Up
    Honestly, I would say this is there best album since Ashes. By no means is it better than Ashes, but it's almost at the same caliber. The energy is there, the aggresion is top notch, the instrumentation is just as complex, and the vocals are getting back to the same gut-wrenching roar that they were 10 years ago. The clean singing is awesome and is definitely great to see Randy expand more on that front. I give it an 8 just because they have, unfortunately fallen into the trap of having things sound a bit too similar in the latter half of the album. Other than that one gripe, the album is awesome to me. 512 gets me pumped every single time I hear it.
    crazysam23_Atax
    "So, we're basically at the point where we've got "another" LoG album. It's still the same band doing mostly the same things, improvements all round but lacking a certain song-writing spark that has dampened the strength of the album as a whole. Still, it begins and ends well, but it probably wont change opinions on the band that much. " No, not at all. Is LoG game changing? No. They aren't trying to be. Is every LoG album the same? Hell no. This album is one of their better efforts.
    spudoka
    Are you ****ing kidding me?! 512 is FUCKING AWESOME!! reviewer, go suck a dick.
    TheGroundZero
    This album has actually made me a LoG fan. I've never really listened to them much before. I bought the new album on release and I love it. Now I need to go back and discover the older albums. I always really enjoy discovering a band like that. I know it's not the same as being an old-school fan, but I get the enjoyment of now listening to a ton of new-to-me music. I'm kind of odd compared to most of my friends in that the older I get, the heavier my taste in music is getting. I started on pop and *ugh*disco in the 70s, then started getting into surf music as a young teenager. That changed to harder rock like Van Halen. By high school I was full blown Metallica, Megadeth, Ratt, Crue, etc. Then ignored everything except for Pantera for several years during the 90s and 00s. Now I've got a taste for Machine Head, A7X, Atreyu, Bullet for my Valentine. And now Lamb of God. Maybe it was all of the promotion and/or watching the "As the Palaces Burn" documentary, who knows. One way or another I've taken to this band now, and I really like the new album.
    xaloo
    This album is tight, from the head to the tail, and it will give you chills, no matter what. Maybe the reviewer have a lot of wax in the ears, this album is a 10/10.
    SkepsisMetal
    Also, reviewer not: at least 3 of the band members have confirmed to date that only 2 songs on the album refer to the prison spell. 512 is directly about it, and Still Echoes is a reference to the area and it's history in general. This album was overall recorded with the intent of avoiding any more talk about that deal.
    svelle
    In Randy's words:"You wanna hear about my time in prison? I wrote a 600 page long book about it. Go read that!"
    shred dogg
    This album kicked ass in my opinion. Soooo many times everyone slags a band for changing there sound and not being what they used too be. Here is an album that has all the core fundementals of a true and traditional LOG album with some experimentation with the vocals and guitar effects. What more can you really ask for ?????
    Crousah
    aside from having to disagree on a few subjective points (imo "512" wasn't the first video for no reason), one really has to question the overall credibility of this review: "grace" is far from being a live staple, the clean vocals on "embers" are chino's, the so called auto wah in "erase this" is actually a talk box and mister blythe didn't spend most of his year in the czech republic...
    sdbrown89
    totally agree with this, this review reads as if the author started listening to Lamb of God last week! He knows absolutely jack shit about the band!
    samfisher666666
    I disagree with the reviewer. 512 is a ****ing amazing track. Delusion Pandemic is even better i would say. The primary guitar riff, Randy's rant towards the end and the breakdown just blew my mind!
    Abacus11
    I've never been a huge LOG fan, I've liked a song here and there over the years but they never really stood out for me. With that said, I've enjoyed this full album more so than any other. They're mixing up their sound a bit and become a more complete band. I wouldn't call VII: Sturm und Drang a GREAT record but I think that it's the most interesting record they've put out. They're trying to prove that there's more substance to them as a band and that they're more willing to experiment sonically and with songwriting than the average metalcore band from their era. I'm looking forward to seeing how they evolve as they get in to the later part of their career.
    Acoustic87777
    My favorite moment from the album is the breakdown on "Delusion Pandemic". It's so powerful. "Now is the moment when everything can change. You are completely responsible for your own life. And no one is coming to save you from yourself. So stop blaming your problems on any and everything else. It does not matter one tiny ****ing bit how unfair you think this world is. Its only what you do. Right here. Right now. Right this ****ing instant that matters. It starts with YOU. SINK OR SWIM !"
    RestinPeaceDime
    It strikes me as a bit cheesy, but the message is good enough: self responsibility. That said, I can't help but imagine Shia Labeouf yelling, "just DO IT!!!!" *power pose*
    napalm890
    When I saw people complaining about the clean vocals I was worried. I was expecting shitty auto tuned pop choruses (like new veil of maya). the clean vocals in Embers are perfect, it's actual singing...so refreshing. Overlord sounds kinda like alice in chains.
    Swizzlestix
    What's with the Sacrament hate? Walk With Me In Hell, Redneck, Foot to the Throat, Descending, Blacken the Cursed Sun, Requiem, More Time to Kill, Beating on Deaths Door. Balls to the wall aggression and groovy riffs from start to finish! Oh well, but it's #2 on my list after Palaces
    sanester
    Awesome. I did not like it at first, but it grew on me fast. I do not like every song on the album, but I give the album two firm thumbs up.
    Peres.T.Peanut
    I found this album so boring...Maybe LoG just isn't for me anymore, but I found very little highlights on this one.
    headbanger987
    Don't listen to the reviewer this album is their best effort with songs such as Overlord, and Torches that stand out as some of the most unique Lamb of God songs ever. All the material is very strong the production is great, the vocals sound A LOT more heavier especially on "512" (a song based on Randy's time in the Czech prison hence the title being his cell number). The lyrics are very deep and the album has a very dark atmosphere to it. I personally believe this album is the thing Lamb of God has done 94/100 this album kicks you in the face and makes you beg for more. The deluxe version (if you buy the actual CD)comes with two bonus tracks: "Wine & Piss" and "Nightmare Seeker (The Little Red House)", both very good songs and the deluxe version also comes with an instrumental version of the album (no vocals)which is cool but I don't see myself listening so at the same time its kind of pointless. Overall this is an amazing album whether you're a die hard Lamb of God fan or you're just getting into them this is a disc you will want to buy.
    Josh100_3
    I can't get into any of his vocals. I guess this band just isn't for me.
    jimmycricket93
    I was the same dude, But then i watched killadelphia and was hooked. 10/10 would do again
    Deathoholic
    Yeah, Killadelphia was my ticket into them as well. Before I couldn't stand Randy's vocals, then a friend showed me Killadelphia and - bam! It was awesome.
    samfisher666666
    1-ashes 2-palaces 3-wrath 4-strum und drang 5-gospel 6-sacrament 7-resolution
    Swizzlestix
    I'm curious what it is about New American Gospel that puts it above Sacrament and Resolution. For me, that is the only LoG release I can't stand, all the others I can go start to finish without feeling like I need to skip a track. The drums sound like they're recorded in the middle of a forest with 1 microphone, and the guitar riffs just sound muddy. But I suppose we all have differing musical tastes.
    samfisher666666
    Yes I guess we do have a differing taste in music. For me, LOG's Sacrament is equivalent to Metallica's Black album. There was too much post production and mixing which made the album too easy to listen to. Similarly, New American Gospel is comparable to Kill 'em All. Shitty engineering, but good song writing for a debut album. And I kinda like the muddy guitar riffs.
    AdriAn934
    I would agree with you mostly, Resolution had got to be their worst.. but some people really like it. I think VII was a big step up though 1. ATPB 2. AotW 3. NAGospel 4. VII 5. Sacrament 6. Wrath 7. 8. Resolution (completely forgettable)
    SGofawesome
    Mine personally would be: 1. As the Palaces Burn 2. Wrath 3. VII 4. Ashes of the Wake 5. Sacrament 6. New American Gospel 7. Resolution
    Tyler420
    I truly don't understand how anyone could think this is their best work, or that it's anywhere near Ashes of the Wake.. Don't get me wrong, I liked the groove elements and different vocal styles they threw in this time - but I feel like 80& of this album and 80& of the 2 albums before it followed similar, almost recycled formulas to the point where it felt predictable and hollow and.. weak. Ashes of the wake was the LAST album where they had a rawness and unpredictability and the riffs and vocals actually sounded great together. Now they sound like a band trying to sound like LOG.
    HardAttack
    One of the best albums they've made. Second only to Sacrament for me for its consistent quality.
    Tsar Igor
    This album was ok but I'll give it a couple more shots. They simplified their songs and I dont know if it's a good thing or a bad thing . I miss solos though, like Visitations kind: fast drumming and sweet blues soloing.
    jaybrink10101
    Lamb of God has never put out an album that I thought was anything less than brilliant. And I'm not fangirling here - I can't pick an album that I couldn't just put on and groove to just about every track on it. They've never been my favourite band, but I've never had anything bad to say about them.
    Nuclearcrayon
    It's a good album but I'm kind of getting worried about the vocals after trying to watch their recent live performances. Randy just seems to be losing his screaming voice.
    Debadyuti
    How many guitar solos are there in the new album of Lamb of God?
    HardAttack
    I wasn't looking for them initially, but on the standard 10 track version: 3 or 4, on the 12 track version, 4 or 5. But if you're judging how good an album is by how many guitar solos it has; you're doin' it wrong.
    jimmy-moto
    I find the guitars don't stand out in the mix very well and I just don't quite like the production as much as the previous albums. I don't see any comments about this - does anyone else agree?
    Deathoholic
    I've loved Wrath since it came out. I had the same anticipation before its release as I've had with Sturm Und Drang. I don't know, however, if I think this record quite tops Wrath. Maybe, but at least I'd say it's got a solid second place for me, possibly a split second place with As The Palaces Burn.
    Sleaze Disease
    If you were going to skip any songs on this album, they sure as hell wouldn't be '512' or 'Footprints'--those songs are killer. I have to say that this is probably my favorite LOG album so far.
    vguitars3577
    For me this is just another great release from this band. Between the years of Ashes and this current release, I've never been able to find one album that stands out more than the other. Each album has its own specific style to it
    TMoreau15
    That's still pretty gritty, some stuff was similar to Wrath but that's not necessarily the worst. It was worth my money and I'm enjoying it. I'd like to see them explore other approaches even further to be honest. 9/10, but I voted 10/10 to pad their stats haha.