Randy Blythe is one of the more articulate and intelligent metal front men today. A highly eloquent and intellectual person, it came as a shock that he had been accused of manslaughter during a concert in the Czech Republic. However, he believed in himself and the truth, defended himself in a foreign country and was acquitted of the manslaughter charges. He wrote at length about the whole ordeal and his incarceration in prison and Lamb of God’s newly released single ‘Still Echoes’ is heavily inspired by his prison experience. It is the first single from their upcoming album VII: Sturm Und Drang that was released on July 24.
As the song starts, Blythe growls “A thousand heads, cut clean across their heads / right down the hall from me.” Blythe has said that these lyrics are based on his experience in the Prankrac Prison, which had a guillotine right down the hall from his room which had been used by the Nazis during World War II. It is from these grim experiences that the band draws new found strength and deliver a strong single that shows a much more mature and cohesive approach.
Rarely does it happen that a band gets heavier as they progress further in their career. However, ever since they released the slightly more mainstream Sacrament, the band have gotten consistently heavier with Wrath and Resolution and their progression can be clearly seen with this single. From the first scream, the band sounds more brutal. The riffs are heavier, the drums are heavier and the lyrics are darker. It feels like the whole band is releasing some pent up rage that has been accumulated over the past few years.
But it never feels overwhelming or disjointed. The song feels much more polished than their previous efforts in both their approach towards songwriting and the mixing and production. Whereas some of their earlier songs would feel like a collection of riffs, this song feels much more smoother in its transition. The mixing is top notch as the guitars sound heavy and thick, just how fans of Lamb of God prefer. Chris Adler, who will also be playing drums on the new Megadeth album, is precise as ever with his blast beats and double bass bullets. It is a testament to his skill and technique that he is so widely wanted as a session musician and this song serves as a showcase of his ability to seamlessly transition between various genres of metal and never lose a step.
Being a fan of classic metal of the 80s, I have a soft spot in my heart for wild, extravagant solos. Thus it is slightly disappointing that we are never treated to a classic, dissonant, chromatic solo by the band. There is a solo at the end but it is very short and serves more as an outro than as a proper solo. However, these are minor shortcomings as the song ends with a flourish with the band playing the chorus and transitioning it into an outro. The lyrics are very powerful and visceral and are very graphic in nature, but they suit the song and the band perfectly.
From start to finish, the song is an onslaught to your senses that nonetheless captivates you with its unerring brutality and leaves you wanting for more at the end. Lamb of God have delivered a very strong single and my expectations from the album are increasing day by day.