It’s no accident that the latest album from veteran metal group Lamb of God is simply the band’s name. Approaching nearly 30 years of creating music, the group understands its tone and niche within the genre.
Through multiple albums, the band has never been shy about exploring themes of despair, destruction and self-deprication. All it takes is a scroll through the tracklist to find song titles such as “Bloodshot Eyes” and “Posion Dream.” It’s easy to see how Lamb of God teems with nihilistic philosophies and musings on the current cultural climate.
Listening to these 10 tracks successively resembles a walk through a desolate wilderness. We observe the destruction of the world. We’re left to wonder, Will it ever get better?
Lamb of God would perhaps answer yes, but only after the gut-wrenching realization of your own futility and hopelessness. Then, the band suggests, you will understand how to combat societal deception. At its core, that sentiment may have some truth to it. But too often, those kinds of poignant reflections are overcome by the band’s problematic handling of harsh content.
The guys in Lamb of God would make excellent consultants. They understand how to identify problems and present solutions. Often, the lyrics accurately highlight the troubling situations of this world and how they affect individuals. On “Gears,” frontman Randy Blythe sings, “Perpetually unsatisfied, but you/Never question why.”
“Routes” features a similar reflection: “The truth is known but nothing’s changed.” Later Blythe adds, “Beneath the eyes of iron hawks/I stand with those who won’t be bought.”
The song “Memento Mori” struggles with the inevitability of death and concludes that “depression fed by overload” combined with “false perceptions” will lead to “rejection [that] grows into oppressive screams.” It’s another bleak-but-perceptive observation about destructive elements in our culture.
On “Reality Bath,” Blythe responds to these problems, singing, “But I can’t sit there silently and/Watch it all go by/The strongest hearts will raise their voice.” As this song grapples with ongoing injustices, Blythe voices his support for those who are affected. Later, he also talks about the negative repercussions when we turn a “blind eye.”
Despite those insightful glimpses into society’s problems, however, virtually every track here is also drenched in the band’s characteristic rage, violence and distasteful phrases. “Checkmate” confronts the inevitability of death and resigns to “Make American hate again/And bleed the sheep to sleep.” The song also grimly appropriates words and images related to death, execution and perhaps even suicide in its commentary on greed: “Asphyxiate and choke the truth/All hail the money god/ … So kiss the hangman as you drop/The rotting corpse of decency.”
Midway through the album, the group’s thesis statement emerges on the track “Poison Dream.” Blythe screams, “There’s no one for us/But us in this toxic life.” It’s a depressing worldview to cling to, especially when all you can see are “a burning river, a black sea/Bloody skies and dying memories.”
That bleak outlook gets reinforced on “Bloodshot Eyes.” Blythe sings, “I don’t give a f— what you have to say/I cut my losses and I walked away.” His exhaustion with the world expands into the admission, “I left our Eden dead and to the weeds/So tired of wasting time.”
“On the Hook” contains multiple references to narcotics and drug use. The lyrics explore ways to cope with desolation and hopelessness, as well as comparing the cultural condition of America to a drug addict.
“New Colossal Hate” is a thoughtful allegory of how the world handles its systemic injustices. Yet the reflections only lead to rage against the armies of “hate.” The vengeful lines are repeated, “Savage ways, old horizons/Hate arises.” “Reality Bath” captures the bleakness of our current plight with the line “She’s just a child of eight years old/Already scared to die/And no one’s done a f—ing thing.”
Plugged In’s review of the Lamb of God’s 2012 album Resolution concluded, “You’ll find a lot of things in Blythe’s lyrics, but contentment isn’t on the list.” Eight years later, and there’s an even greater malcontent infused into their lyrics.
Against the backdrop of civil unrest and societal change, Lamb of God joins the chorus of those desperate for action. Their solutions range from violent demonstrations to vengeance fueled by anger.
Regardless of how penetrating some lyrics may be with regard to the world’s self-deception, the listener is nevertheless left with little guidance beyond a violent—and often profane—call to arms. Nihilistic despair overpowers the philosophical musings. In the end, we are left with only violence and little to hope for.