Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: November 18th, 2016, via Rise Records
Following the release of last year’s VII: Sturm und Drang, Lamb Of God have been busily touring to promote the record, including a stop at Toronto’s Echo Beach this summer, which you can check out our review and photos of here. Since then, a long-time fan Wayne Ford- who had previously reached out the band- had passed away from leukemia (you can read the full story here). Upon discovering of Ford’s death, Lamb Of God decided to release The Duke; an EP with a title song that was inspired by Ford and was originally cut from VII: Sturm und Drang. The EP was released in memory of Ford, as well as the band’s attempt to spread awareness and contribute towards the fight against leukemia.
“The Duke”: Opening with an almost ambient guitar, for a second one would think that the title track was going to take a lighter approach. This is partially true. The song immediately launches into a pounding chorus of racing drums and distorted guitars, jumping into a verse in which the instrumental parts remain powerful, and Randy Blythe’s vocals take a melodic approach, similar to VII: Sturm und Drang’s “Overlord”. Blythe lets out his traditional throat wrenching screams over the chorus and bridge section which leads perfectly, with a raised level of intensity, into an incredible guitar solo. The song is amazing, but what stands out is Blythe’s choice to fuse his melodic and screaming vocals. It was for this reason that “Overlord” was one of the best tracks on VII: Sturm und Drang: it’s so unique, giving the band yet another dimension that separates them from most other metal bands. This actually gives the song a slightly more hard rock feel, backed by the force and intricate nature of the instrumental parts one would come to expect from Lamb Of God.
“The Culling”: This one is far more from the metal heads! If “The Duke” was written to give a progressive new direction for the band, “The Culling” is here to remind you that Lamb Of God are still the best at what they do. The track starts off with a very short, but equally as fast guitar, before diving into an unrelenting verse. The song even features a short but jaw dropping drum solo from Chris Adler. This is exactly why we love Lamb Of God. Their musicianship, both as a band and as individuals, is unmatched. The song is simpler than most of their other work, but that does not detract for the song’s quality. After hearing this and “The Duke”, I firmly believe that everything written and recorded during the time of VII: Sturm und Drang is a gem.
“Still Echoes” Live From Rock Am Ring: “Still Echoes”, like the aforementioned “Overlord”, is one of the best tracks on VII: Sturm und Drang. There is no denying the sheer velocity that the lead song off of the album is absolutely killer. Hearing Lamb Of God blast through it flawlessly, as if all the shifts in groove and rhythmically complicated syncopations are nothing, is amazing. You can feel the energy emanating from your headphones as you helplessly headband and long for a mosh pit in your living room.
“512” Live From Bonnaroo: The narrative of Blythe’s time in prison is best captured on “512”, but listening to it live gives the song a new layer of intensity. Blythe’s screams- which would diminish the voice of nearly anyone else- are filled with memories and experiences that he wishes upon no one. This is heard as he belts out the track. When during an instrumental break he calls to the packed Bonnaroo audience in a perfectly clear voice, “make some noise motherfuckers” and you can’t help but to try and sing along to the epic chorus.
“Engage The Fear Machine Live From Bonnaroo”: Probably the heaviest of the three live tracks, “Engage The Fear Machine” tackles themes of political corruption – and proved to be an incredibly appropriate piece considering the nature of the recent American election- and gives the album a larger than life close. Really, it is like hearing the end of a three song set from Lamb Of God, consisting of some of the best VII: Sturm und Drang has to offer. As expected, the song is performed masterfully from a band made up of some of the best musicians to take on the modern metal genre.
The Duke is an excellent little addition to any Lamb Of God fan’s collection. The two unreleased studio tracks, “The Duke” and “The Culling” are amazing despite being cut from VII: Sturm und Drang. The three live songs also demonstrate the sheer intensity and force that Lamb Of God carry at all of their live performances. The raw energy felt while listening to them makes you want to see them live and certainly makes you want a live record from their last tour. All in all, The Duke is great EP which also benefits an amazing cause.
1: The Duke
2: The Culling
3: Still Echoes- Live From Rock Am Ring
4: 512- Live From Bonnaroo
5: Engage The Fear Machine- Live From Bonnaroo
Listen to “The Duke”:
Listen to “The Culling”: