Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Album review: Lamb of God's 'Wrath'

February 23, 2009 |  4:30 pm

Lambofgod Metal bands with populist ambitions always have to make a deal with the devil: Too many hooks and you end up like Poison, but too much grind resigns you to an audience that enjoys doodling pentagrams in their notebooks during study hall. So the surprise ascent of bands like Lamb of God, which sneaks genuine trash metal onto the Billboard charts, speaks to an abiding need for something a hair scarier than Daughtry on rock radio.

On its new album, "Wrath," the Virginia band roots its best songs in a Motorhead swagger that makes the growly moments stickier and gives the stadium-sized choruses a hint of righteous evil. Kickoff single "Set to Fail" has a snakebitten chorus that feels destined for America's more insalubrious stripper poles (and that's a compliment), but the band takes pains to follow it up with the orthodox calisthenics of "Contractor," probably the most vicious and evocative tune attacking military outsourcing to date.

The gang chorus of "Broken Hands" retains the instrumental pyrotechnics yet feels summer festival ready, and the laser-sharp pummel of "Everything to Nothing" focuses aggression into urgent riffery.

"Wrath" owes huge debts to such hallowed metal predecessors as Metallica's "Master of Puppets," but anybody who can make this instrumental firebombing play well in an arena is doing the dark lord proud.

--August Brown

Lamb of God
Two and a half stars