As punctual and reliable as a well-made time bomb, Lamb Of God has earned its status as one of the standard-bearers of modern metal. Yet the veteran band’s 2009 album, Wrath, felt a little off—due to some relatively unfocused songwriting and a swampier sound enabled by the addition of new producer Josh Wilbur. Wilbur is back at the boards for Wrath’s follow-up, Resolution, but something over the past couple of years must have clicked. Where Wrath is botched and bleary in spots, Resolution is sharp, focused, restless, and pitilessly ferocious.
Much of that has to do with frontman Randy Blythe. Always a scattershot mouthpiece, he brings a renewed sense of controlled chaos—and a fresh coat of bile—to tracks like “Guilty” and “Straight For The Sun,” the latter of which starts with an intake of breath that seemingly takes Blythe the entire song to forcefully unfurl. But his guttural, apocalyptic prophesying isn’t the only area that’s seen improvement; guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler superimpose their riffs and runs in thick, thunderous counterpoint, achieving a symphonic brutality on the hauntingly melodic “Insurrection” and the acoustic-opened “Ghost Walking.”
The symphony kicks in for real, though, on the sprawling closer, “King Me.” Sounding like some sort of black-metal Queensrÿche, the song’s cobweb-draped intro and choppy interludes combine cathedral-worthy keyboards, spectral female backups, and Blythe’s own spooky, spoken-word verse. Bordering on camp, it really shouldn’t work. But, along with the rest of Resolution, it does—and in doing so, it reaffirms Lamb Of God’s strength as a band that knows its bounds yet never flinches in the course of probing them.