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Lamb of God - Hourglass

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 @ 3:08 PM


(Epic)

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My first real exposure to Lamb of God was not long after the band’s Metal Blade debut New American Gospel was released in 2000. They were opening a show at D.C.’s 9:30 Club for Gwar on Halloween, so you can imagine what a spectacle that was. What I remember most of about Lamb of God was that frontman Randy Blythe had a cast on one of his arms, the result of a drunken fall. He kept using it to mimic a shotgun that he’d stick in his mouth and pretend to blow his head off. And he looked pretty serious about it, which was kinda freaky — and that’s saying something given that this was a Gwar show. But other than that, Lamb of God were unremarkable, indistinguishable from the myriad other mediocre warm-up acts one often must endure at shows like this. They seemed like a pedestrian death metal band who their Richmond, VA., homies in Gwar were doing a favor by taking them on their first big U.S. tour. Can’t say I really expected to see much of them again. Shows how much I know.

One big-label deal, a couple Top 10 albums and platinum DVDs, and hundreds of bludgeoning shows later and Lamb of God are one of the leaders of the new school of thrash metal and among its most successful, revered bands. Indeed, they’ve been around long enough, and have made enough of an impact, to now rate the box-set treatment with the career-spanning Lamb of God">Hourglass — which is available in a variety of formats including a $999.99 super deluxe edition that includes a guitar and comes in a casket-shaped case! But for our purposes, we’ll stick with the bargain-basement, $24.99 three-CD set that has zero extras.

Since Lamb of God already have issued three live/retrospective DVDs, and re-released material they recorded when they were still known as Burn The Priest, there’s probably not a whole lot here that hardcore fans won’t already own. The first disc, "The Underground Years," recaps the Burn The Priest/Metal Blade years — and such nuggets as "Black Label," "Ruin" and "Bloodletting" — while "The Epic Years" disc is a collection of material from — duh! — their three big-label albums, with such hits as "Walk With Me In Hell," "Laid To Rest," "Redneck" and "Set To Fail." The third disc, "The Vault," with its collection of rehearsal demos, bonus tracks from special editions and foreign releases, old tour tapes and Burn The Priest 7-inches, offers different or roughshod takes on familiar material and indeed does mine the vault, for better or worse. Of the bonus tracks, only the revved off and viciously riffy "Condemn The Hive" from the Japanese edition of Wrath really stands out, the rest sound like probably what they are — songs that couldn’t make the cut on the album for which they were recorded. "Nippon" is just plain awful, a demo quality throwaway.

And speaking of demos and whatnot, the rehearsal recordings here are pretty much what you’d expect — raw, unpolished and, in some cases, still incomplete versions tracks like "Now You’ve Got Something to Die For," "More Time To Kill" and "Dead Seeds." On "Lamb of God">Hourglass," Blythe seems to have not quite worked out the lyrics and gurgles and croaks some unintelligible blather that sounds like something off an early Carcass album. And primal The Burn The Priest material comes across like a thrash band covering old Napalm Death or Cannibal Corpse.

If nothing else, "The Vault" shows how much Blythe has developed as a vocalist and frontman over the years — even if he sounds like a drill sergeant with ‘roid rage now. It’s still way better than back in the day — when he sounded like a cat with its ass on fire. As a document of Lamb of God’s dramatic sonic growth and well-earned relative success, Hourglass is an at times painfully complete, warts and all collection. But unless you’re a total newbie to Lamb of God, it’d be hard to justify shelling out $25 — or more if you want extras — for an extended "best of" selection and a CD’s worth of second-rate or crappy sounding tracks you’ll probably only want to listen to once out of curiosity anyway. So caveat emptor here kids.

* * *

Purchase your copy of Hourglass now (For only $22.98) in the KNAC.COM More Store. Click here


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