LAMB OF GOD
"The Duke"

(Epic)

01. The Duke
02. Culling
03. Still Echoes (live from Rock am Ring)
04. 512 (live from Bonnaroo)
05. Engage THE Fear Machine (live from Bonnaroo)

RATING: 8/10

Now that Chris Adler's had his remarkable if short stint in MEGADETH, he saddles back upon his home stool as LAMB OF GOD prepares to grind out their next major project. In the meantime, they release an introspective EP, "The Duke", inspired by the passing of a LAMB OF GOD megafan, Wayne Alan Ford. Ford fought a long battle with leukemia and lost. This keeping in mind the band lost one of their prior merch girls, Evie Carrano, to cancer as well.

Randy Blythe has faced hell of a different sort and come out of it perhaps a different man. He urges his fans to read Ford's story at LAMB OF GOD's site and consider donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and www.bethematch.org in the interest of preserving lives.

Thus it becomes a little unsettling to subject "The Duke" to analysis, given the title track is an homage to Ford. The good news is, "The Duke" gives listeners a couple of gnarly new tracks to sink into, plus a few live cuts from last year's superb "VII: Sturm Und Drang".

The title track is an example of how powerful LAMB OF GOD can be when opting out of their customary munch modes. "The Duke" is a well-written power metal number that's way heavier than any radio-bound proto rock act. Not that LAMB OF GOD has strived for AOR, but "The Duke" is the most accessible track they've ever composed. Given its source, the pulled-back, somber tempo is appropriate. Blythe sticks to mostly a clean palette, barking a few outraged emissions on the rougher spots. The winding groove to "The Duke" is engulfing enough without having to smother the listener flat-out with roaring tones. It's a successful, fresh cut, a building block for LAMB OF GOD's next full-length if they choose to keep exploring in this fashion.

The bludgeoning bedlam is reserved for "Culling", no doubt partially inspired by the horror film of the same name that's gained a cult audience through cable. Here is where LAMB OF GOD's normal bash and crash modes frolic with Adler's superhuman polyrhythm accented by the band's fixated riffing. Set off by the same boogie-metal drops LAMB OF GOD has staked their reps by as early as "Redneck", the thundering groove is plenty to stoke the appetites of fans no doubt screaming for more at song's end.

The live cuts dropped across remainder of the EP are "Still Echoes", "512" and "Engage The Fear Machine". "Still Echoes" from the Rock Am Ring fest in Germany is both a crisp and murky capture with pounding echo giving it a sinister projection. "512", Blythe's haunting recollections of his time in prison, is even more hellish in this live presentation.

Speculation says LAMB OF GOD will be looking to expand their songwriting a smidge, if "The Duke" is any indicator. They should have no fear playing in this dropped-down zone since it freaking rocks. "Culling" being a solid ass-whipper, fans can take heart this band knows where their roots lie. At the heart of this EP, however lies a sad story, and that should take precedence over any prospective musical directions.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).