HardReviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Lamb Of God - As The Palaces Burn
(Prosthetic)

Lamb Of God's (post-name change) New American Gospel debut kicked everyone's asses around the heavy metal parking lot, and now the determined, upwardly mobile ones are back after away too long (lots of touring ensued, mind you) with an even more lethal follow-up. As The Palaces Burn is an almost ridiculously heavy cross between American thrash, German thrash and death metal, spiced with the canny stealings of the Swedish from the above trinity of terror-filled metal styles. Add to that wave upon wave of memorable and musical riffs set against a jackhammering production job by Devin Townsend and you've got a record that is both oppressively mechanistic and mosh-maddeningly groovy, sequenced with forethought riptides giving way to mesmerizing swirls at the mid-point, a slashing power epic taking the record out like Bruce Dickinson on crack. But the message is clear: this is the syrupy, expensive ice wine of extreme metal styles, namely all the thrashes and some of the deaths and whatever you'd call Slayer. And vocalist Randy Blythe strikes the right note between thrash and death as well, just like the music, creating a force with a mission, a mission which seems to be to push metal to the sharp edge of musicality, stopping just before enjoyment becomes merely theoretical. Hard to believe one band could have so many good ideas, ideas perfectly arranged into accessible yet hardly commercial music. But then again, Lamb Of God have already proven their talent. Plus it took them three years to think up and execute the damn record. Well worth the wait.
Rating 9

Rebellion - Born A Rebel
(Drakkar/BMG)

Born A Rebel is the follow-up to the band's debut album, a concept album about Macbeth. No concept here though other than unapologetic heavy metal cheese, Rebellion, featuring Grave Digger breakaway Uwe Lulis plus assorted Warhead, Annihilator, Black Destiny cast-offs, grinding out a cross between Hammerfall and Accept, with the end result being that every song sounds like a lusty, beer-quaffing version of Metal Gods. Either a joke or very close to one, Born A Rebel most definitely would sound great with beer goggles on, Lulis stinging often with imposing riffs that stick to the memory centres.
Rating 7