Album Of The Week – October 17, 2022

It’s been quite a while since I’ve tackled a recent album as AotW, that usually involves a lot more work than talking about a record that’s been out for 40 years. But this return-to-form album from one of metal’s most influential bands of this century is significant enough to warrant immediate discussion.

Lamb Of God – Omens

Released October 7, 2022 via Epic Records and Nuclear Blast Records

My Favorite Tracks – Ditch, Gomorrah, Grayscale

Lamb Of God have always presented a harsh, visceral world view, and this new album in the post-2020 era is a fiery takedown of whatever’s left in the ashes of our culture. It’s probably easier than ever to craft a metal album in today’s negative, nihilistic climate; but it takes on a new form when combined with the groove and riffs of a seasoned metal act.

The band recorded the album in the same room with each other, rather than handling specific parts alone. Something about the spontaneity and changing of the process has led to a rejuvenated band back on the attack. A “Making Of Omens” mini-documentary is available online for anyone who has purchased copies of the album or concert tickets (I think…)

There is no beating around the bush here – 10 songs come in right at 40 minutes. The attack is savage and precise, so let’s get right to it.

Nevermore

This track was the first preview single and was offered up in June. The song delves into the issues surrounding the “culture war” happening in a lot of the US and here specifically in the band’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia. The battle here is whether to remove or leave up statues and other images of Confederate military figures and has been a hot button issue through the South for awhile now.

Nevermore’s presentation of the issue is “well, everything is fucked” which is a pretty accurate portrayal. There are also a few lines thrown in to pay tribute to Edgar Allen Poe’s epic poem The Raven.

Vanishing

A hard hitter here, this song seems like it’s about a civilization being wiped off the planet. It could possibly be about one of the many peoples who were wiped out or subjugated by colonial powers. The song has a pretty neat outro part that switches up the pacing.

To The Grave

A neat song about that one thing from your past that can come back and bite you. Another song that highlights how inspired and refreshed the band sounds.

Ditch

This will probably count as a single as the song was given a video on release day. The song is the classic kind of “confrontation” tune that works so very well in the groove metal realm. The “ditch” appears to be the one the whole country is in. This was an instant favorite for me when I heard the record and I’ll wager that this song will be ranked among the band’s best after the dust settles.

Omens

The title track has a nice twist on the idea of omens and ides. The world so screwed that, well, the hell with all the signs pointing it out. “I can’t pretend to care about how this will end” sums up the spirit of the song and the whole album.

Gomorrah

This is a song about failure – and not just, like, missing a field goal or something. It’s stark, bleak, abject failure of the all-consuming kind. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture and it’s a type of song or art theme that has always drawn me in for whatever reason. I don’t know if it’s me hitting middle age or if it’s the state of the world or what, but this kind of total human failure really stands out, and it’s captured in perfect form by Lamb Of God here.

Ill Designs

Again with the failure, but this time apparently of some corporate head or other power figure that is being taken down. It is the collapsing of the house of cards the figurehead built, and of course everyone is caught in the demolition. Some very standout guitar work on this one too.

Grayscale

This song apparently almost didn’t make the record but was “voted in” by the producer. The riffing is more militant than a normal LoG song but isn’t out of place or anything. It’s about a struggle within one’s self, and pretty extreme one at that.

Denial Mechanism

Here is an absolute barnburner. Not that Lamb Of God would ever be accused of not being heavy, but this is a whole other world for them. It has a more hardcore feel than a typical LoG track and bashes the end of humanity and the world into the listener’s head. While the song presents a call to action to fend off the end, things sound pretty bleak around here.

September Song

The album’s finale keeps the theme of “we’re fucked” and presents it on a grand, global scale. This one also moves a bit differently than what we’ve come to expect from LoG, with a bit more of an epic build-up and use of movements and atmosphere. It still communicates its brutal message in typical fashion but is a welcome stretching out of the creative muscles for the band.

Omens does what many long-in-the-tooth metal bands strive to do, and a handful achieve – it presents a refreshed, revitalized attack for a band that had been previously written off as a throwback to better, older days. Lamb Of God have not lacked for name recognition or legacy status, but recent efforts were not viewed in the same hallowed light as their peak offerings, now well over a decade old.

But the word on Omens is out, and many who maybe haven’t paid LoG much mind in a long time find themselves back for another round. The backdrop of the pandemic and America’s possible disintegration have led to a ferocious new record. You don’t have to teach an old dog new tricks, sometimes they learn their own.

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