Album Review: Lamb Of God - 'The Duke EP'.
With the recent past proving particularly trying for Randy Blythe, you’d forgive the Lamb of God frontman if he looked at life a little more pensively than most these days. With a well documented court case that saw him facing a life behind bars in an overseas prison, and an unprovoked assault on the streets of Dublin to deal with; life could justifiably be viewed as trying for the singer, to say the very least.
Blythe however isn’t a man to wallow, and with ‘The Duke EP’, the singer, and his band have put their energies towards something altogether more positive. Returning with their first new material in a year and a half, the disc features two brand new studio songs, along with a selection of live cuts recorded earlier this year. A stop-gap between albums, the EP also doubles as a charity release, with proceeds going to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Dedicated to Wayne Ford, a fan suffering from terminal leukaemia whom Blythe befriended, the release of ‘The Duke’ is inspired by a noble cause. However, lyrically, the title track could just as easily have been informed by Blythe’s own outlook following the manslaughter trial; “every day could be your last, so consider your demise”, sings Randy, raising a fist in defiant optimism, against the odds.
It’s inspiring stuff, and one that no doubt put his own life into perspective. Delivering a positive message over a driving groove that gives way to some primal riffing, Blythe growls; “I will never die”, hammering home that glass-half-full outlook.
Complemented by the Pantera-esque swing of ‘Culling’, which features the seemingly effortless drumming of Chris Adler, along with Dimabag-aping soloing from guitarist Mark Morton, these new tracks deviate little from the groove metal sound that fans have come to expect from the Virginains.
The release is fleshed out by a trio of live tracks, the studio versions of which originally appeared on 2015’s ‘VII: Sturm und Drang’. ‘Still Echoes’ recorded live at Rock Am Ring Germany, along with ‘512’ (which deals with Blythe’s incarceration), are suitably angsty, while ‘Engage The Fear Machine’ live from Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Festival offers a brutal, groove-laden charge. Featuring naturally rawer interpretations than the original versions, you can almost feel the sweat dripping off your speakers as the band’s high-energy, hard-hitting sound comes booming out of the speakers.
Available now in both digital, and limited edition vinyl formats, fans should head over to www.lls.org, where the band have made a number of signed and limited edition items available to further benefit the worthy cause.
By Eamon O'Neill on 2nd December 2016.
'The Duke EP' is available now.