Lamb Of God’s second major-label album, 2006’s Sacrament, marked the first time the Virginia thrash unit sounded like a major-label band. Tightening execution and widening recording values, LOG used Sacrament to explore melody and atmosphere without sacrificing the gruff, machine-precise sound on which they earned their name. Some fans rejected the shift; others felt the band didn’t go far enough. Wrath seems more likely to please the latter category.
Opening with a lovely acoustic-guitar run (one of several such asides on the album) that unfolds into an expansive, Metallica-style instrumental, Wrath soon gets down to the dark, punch-press-style crunch LOG does best. But where previous albums merely accented this rhythmic chug with melody, Wrath revels in guitar and vocal melodies so rich, they practically emit colors. (See the incredible closing section and chorus of “In Your Words,” and the cascading, mile-high riffs of “Broken Hands” for starters.) Wrath still offers ample velocity and violence, of course: In standouts such as the off-time, Pantera-esque “Fake Messiah,” or the Slayer-eclipsing thrash blitz “Everything To Nothing,” the band hits with the force of an invading army. But for the first time, Lamb Of God sounds as powerful composing songs as it does cranking out riffs—and the transformation is career-defining.