HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Burn The Priest - Burn The Priest

Back in 1998, Lamb Of God were called Burn The Priest, Randy, Chris and crew emerging out of Richmond (via Steve Austin, in Texas), with an indie debut that should have dented more industry heads than it did. Forsooth, these pure-of-heart walking encyclopedias of metal had on their hands a debut that was incredibly hard, very technical, well recorded (Chris was very particular about his drum sound and eventually triumphed, ending up with a Vinnie Paul-type cut 'n' dryness), distressingly underground, and fully indicative of where Lamb Of God would take metalcore. Now onto their fourth album, Lamb Of God are improbably on a major and doing rather well, so here we have the even more improbable circumstance of the band's indie debut coming out on Sony, great notes by Austin, and a video of this album's lead track, the thrashy, near Relapsecore Bloodletting, recorded for the recent Killadelphia video. When (if?) the band get even bigger, I fully expect to see this out yet again, as a Lamb Of God record, 'cos without a doubt, it is up to the almost super-human standards Chris and Mark place upon on the band. I dunno, 14 tracks (though short ones, totaling 40 minutes!) of Randall screaming his head off can be a bit of a chore - and his is only one signal of same-iness to this thing. But nonetheless, one comes out of the experience enriched, given the virtuosity, conviction and distilled potency of the eerily destined band at hand.
Rating 7.5

Corrosion Of Conformity - In The Arms Of God

Usually if an album is supposed to grow on you, it means it sucks. But this one will likely buck that trend, for me, for you, for God's sake. Starting like a grow-(op), I was instantly turned off by the uncommerciality of this, the lack of tidy rockers. But also instantly, there was a respect at the band's shaggy shambling, its retention of all those cool COC traits, the doom, the stoner, the sludge, the blues, the creaking Clutch-ness of the band's best groovy tunes. There are eccentricities here, the main one being the busy and loud sometimes Bonham-esque and Bonham-toned drumming of guest skinsman Stanton Moore, of Galactic. He's everywhere like Keith Moon, more than just a backbone, and he's left boldly in the humid, organic, though slightly guitar-weak mix. Pepper's either his usual great self on vocals, or again, eccentric, a little flat or sharp or fragile or frantic, and even he is up and down in the mix. But all this adds to the album's underground charm, not to mention there's a paucity of hooks and hits on here. With a jammy, sludgy record like this, you're supposed to let it seep into yer floorboards as an entirety I suppose, and that's pretty commendable of COC, who, like Clutch, have stayed heavy but shed any shackles of genre-descriptive tags and have become just some sort of semi-legendary fecund rock combo with swampy, southern roots, torrents of chemistry, improvisational virtuosity, defiant, slack and relaxed integrity. But yes, In The Arms Of God is a struggle, and the verdict's out, at least for me, whether I'll be able to peel back the onion and get a good feed off of two, three, four, more songs. That righteous metal place so convincingly inhabited by Deliverance and Wiseblood... I don't know if Pepper and crew care to take the band there any more - and maybe we gotta learn to live with that, go with the flow and all that.
Rating 7

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