Lamb of God’s Omens is cool, but unremarkable for an apocalyptic album.
I remember the first time I saw Lamb of God in concert during their time on Slayer’s Farewell Tour. This was at a time where the heaviest band I listened to was Slipknot, and I only knew a couple of their songs. My interest was in what most would consider “dad metal.” But for the first time getting to see Death Metal live and in person, Lamb of God utterly took the stage; it wasn’t a band that made such a huge impression on me at the time – if you asked me all these years later, I’d still probably say “meh” anyway – but I couldn’t deny the power of their stage presence. When I heard of the release of their new album, I decided to take a look back at some of their older work I’d picked up before and compare.
Putting on the first track of Omens gave me high hopes for the rest of the album. This was definitely a groovier, heavier, more anxious direction than their previous album, eponymously named “Lamb of God”. With the swinging riffs of “Nevermore” and its themes of modern apocalypse, one could reasonably denote influences from the likes of Mastodon and Gojira. This exciting new feel continues on with “Vanishing,” maybe a little closer to their roots, but still heavier and engaging. From this point on, however, I felt the album started to drop off a little in terms of distinction. The middle of this album starts to feel like a slightly heavier beckoning back to the likes of Sacrament (“Ditch” is a bit of an exception – it blends thunderous verses with spacious breakdowns during the chorus). The end of the album, however, is where the album begins to pick up again. While “Denial Mechanisms” and “Song of September” still aren’t as strong as the way the album begins, they bring a fresh change of pace from what Lamb of God is known for. The former track brings an interesting taste of pure hardcore into the fray, whereas the latter starts with a soft yet brooding intro, and forays into orchestral accompaniment during its chorus’ buildup.
To really compare with the rest of their works, this album feels like a little blend of everything, with some elements anew added. For an album about the apocalyptic fears of our modern societal issues, however, this means the album feels weak on a united front. Some songs speak vaguely on the threats of apocalypse, but others speak directly as critiques of the American system, with lines such as “They’re all so scared again, it’s so American/ Here in the home of the brave and the terrified,” from “Ditch.” To me, it seems if they wanted to really dig into first world apocalypse territory, they could’ve gone a little harder, no holds barred. To those who tout the band as “American Heavy Metal Pioneers” (looking at you, Metal Injection), this album doesn’t seem to represent that to me; instead, they wanted to leave something for every kind of Lamb of God fan, to avoid alienating their audience.
Overall, I’d give the album a 6/10. It has some bangers, and aims to please everyone, with some tracks worthy of note, but definitely not something I’d write home about – I probably wouldn’t anyway, considering that musically, I’m the black sheep of the family, but I digress. I sure hope you die hard fans get more out of this album than I did. Although I can say I will probably be blasting “Nevermore” in my car for a while!