No genre finds itself in competition with it’s own past quite like metal. On festival line-ups, in the album charts, and at award shows, metal’s bright young things and mid-career standouts find themselves battling for breathing room alongside the genre’s giants. Lamb Of God know this better than most. They teetered on the edge of mainstream recognition on two separate occasions. First in 2007 with “Redneck”, then again with “Set To Fail” in 2010, and twice they’ve had to sit and watch Slayer and Judas Priest collect the Grammy for best metal performance.
The tension boils over with the ambitious album closer “King Me”. This scornful odyssey culminates when Randy Blythe drops his harsh bark and coolly, and unequivocally states: “Nostalgia is grinding the life from today, The present always dies and future memories”. The track is brutal but ambiguous, it can be read as a single dramatic narrative or as a series of lamentations on writer’s block, dislocation, and the future’s death at the hands of the past. Whatever the case, “King Me” remains the most expansive and progressive work on display, as it migrates from the soft spoken lines and ominous shimmers through operatic backing vocals and strings, into a primeval bludgeoning.
The rest of Resolution is more conservative. After the ominous lurching grooves of album opener “Straight For The Sun” it’s back to business as usual for Lamb Of God – blistering double bass pedal barrages and frenzied guitar work. Obvious single “Desolation” sees the formula at it’s most effective as Lamb Of God seethe with frustration and distain, but it pales in comparison to “Ghost Walking”. The lead single rides its hellacious groove for all its worth, while incorporating a clever acoustic intro, a searing solo and one of Blythe’s best and most direct hooks.
Sadly while the pace remains ferocious Lamb Of God struggle under the weight of their own groove laden attack. “Barbarossa” and “Invictus” offer a slight change of pace, but these moments are too few and far between, as an overwhelming 56 minutes of bass drum led bombast grinds on and on and on, and on. Blythe simply lacks both the vocal dexterity and lyrical insight to spice up the album’s more grueling passages, and when, on the insipid “Cheated”, Blythe cries “To everyone’s dismay, predictable cliché” you can’t help but sigh “yeah tell me about it”.
Still, while Resolution is criminally long, and Lamb Of God are desperately in need of a few gear changes, this is still an urgent and arresting offering, and when Lamb Of God have their heads down riding one of their trademark grooves they prove irresistible. Resolution will not cement Lamb Of God among metal’s elite, but come 2013 they’ll be in Grammy contention yet again for the brilliant “Ghost Walking”.
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