This week’s AOTW pick is a classic from 2004 that saw one of metal’s rising stars reach new heights and start to secure their place as the genre’s premier act. The album is largely based thematically on the second U.S.-Iraq War and features one of the best 3-song (if not 5-song) opening album sequences ever put to record. The new gods of groove metal arrived in 2004 to headbang through the new millennium.
Lamb Of God – Ashes Of The Wake
Released August 31, 2004 via Epic Records
My Favorite Tracks – Laid To Rest, Hourglass, Now You’ve Got Something To Die For
The album leads off with Laid To Rest – a track that is one of LoG’s most popular songs to this day. The song is one of a few that doesn’t betray its meaning right away – it could be about a victim haunting their killer, as is often surmised. That same concept could play out with the album’s overall theme of looking at the U.S. Wars in the Middle East. Perhaps a “collateral damage” victim is looking for their killers.
Or, the song could simply be a damn break-up tune. That’s what it sounds like to me. There’s definitely something under there to pull that conclusion out, even if the result is quite screwed up. I don’t necessarily recommend screaming “Destroy yourself – see who gives a fuck” over and over again if you’re trying to get over somebody, but hey, it’s there if you need it.
The next few songs jump more overtly into the issue of the wars in the Middle East. Hourglass is a sharp warning of the dangers of nation-building, warnings that have largely come to pass. Now You’ve Got Something To Die For gets into the true cost of war, that being the piles of bodies wrapped in flags and dollars.
The Faded Line continues the harrowing exploration of the cost of war, this time looking at the loss of faith and connection to one’s country, vision and values. It’s a definite standout and one I can truly connect with, it’s kind of shit living in a place where I can’t connect with the ideals that so many among me are rabidly shouting in defense of.
Ashes Of The Wake goes on to explore a handful of other themes. Omerta is a clear visitation of the Mafia’s “code of silence” and the brutal consequences of violating it. There’s more political musing on One Gun, and Break You is about some specifically unidentified heavy stuff.
The album’s title track takes a different approach to outlining the horrors of war. An interview with a Marine who saw combat in Iraq presents the harsh realities of the orders the combatants were given. The song offers a handful of guitar solos, including guest shots from Testament’s Alex Skolnick and Chris Poland, formerly of Megadeth.
Lamb Of God were one of the many bands lumped into the “New Wave Of American Heavy Metal” tag in the early 00’s. That tag got a bit confusing over time and grouped many dissimilar acts together. Either way, Lamb Of God separated themselves from the pack with Ashes Of The Wake. The road ahead would see even more success and exposure for the group through the rest of the 00’s.