'Resolution' starts slowly. Literally, a two minute dirge of epic uncompromising almost-stoner Metal. The drums kick in for the second track and a timbale heralds a return to the style and tempo I expected. This being Lamb of God, the slow intro was only the warm up for the surprises they had in store while demonstrating their commitment and absolute belief in math. No one ever said mathmetal had to be strummed out on a single muted note and this album drums home the fact hard and fast.
If you're the kind of Lamb Of God fan that thinks the music died with the arrival of Redneck then this album may have you banging your head against your padded wall. If, like me, you found Redneck the key to access their entire back catalogue then, you are in for a treat.
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So what of the surprises?
This seems to be the album where LoG have discovered what a chorus is for. Hooks abound along with musical sections and melodic solos. Musical composition has risen to the fore. No more is accurately worked variation good enough. The song is the driving force behind each and every change.
The guitar work is more harmonic, and more surprisingly possesses a greater range of deviation in its mathematical precision. Mark Morton and Willie Adler have expanded the formula delivering syncopated rhythms, chord tones and harmonies in all the right places. There is a definite flavour of Pantera without ever sounding derivative and anything other than Lamb of God.
For the first time, I really have to applaud the lead work. No longer is it a mere distraction from the all-important rhythm. Now it's a part of the song, adding to the feel and emotional content. The mathematical precision is evident here too. Everything being in perfect time and the notes being impossibly well played.
The depth and richness of Randy Blythe's vocals are unquestionably superior to his previous efforts. There's no singing, just more tune, catchier rhythms and on the Pantera theme, some spoken drawls that slot in as naturally as if Phil himself had been drafted in for the part.
On the first listen through I was getting some God fatigue by track five. Everything after 'Ghost Walking' seemed relentlessly fast. By the second listen however, the subtleties were pressing home. The changes in tempo and rhythm guitar made the songs clearly different. And knowing slower numbers are coming made that extreme drive suddenly seem easy to cope with.
I don't want to ruin all the surprises but there are group chants and acoustic guitars... and even orchestral movements. But this is Lamb Of God and I have to praise them for expanding what they do without sacrificing who they are. When unexpected things happen it sounds as natural as breathing.
Which neatly brings me to the last song of the album, a song that brings everything together in one place, 'King Me'. It starts with spoken words, cuts into the finest math based rhythm and then smashes you clean on the jaw with blast of strings that bring an immense depth to an already outstanding song. I absolutely love it. If Redneck was pop, this is Lamb Of Prog.
Clearly their best album yet, every time it loops back to that thumping spoken word grinding opener, I'm ready for it all again. This is the first LoG album that I can say without hesitation that I'm happy to listen to repeatedly: no skip tracks or clock watching, only enjoying the ride all the way to the end and back again.