Unless anyone from the Metal world was living under a rock for the past five years, they will be aware that Lamb of God have been at the centre of some pretty intense events in recent times; in particular, their lead vocalist Randy Blythe. Blythe was charged with manslaughter following the unfortunate death of a fan at one of the band’s shows in the Czech Republic in 2010 and was incarcerated in Prague in 2012 until his not guilty verdict in 2013. Two years on and Lamb of God return with ‘VII: Sturm und Drang’ set for release on July 24th on Epic Records and Nuclear Blast. To say that there is much curiosity regarding their eighth studio album would be to understate the obvious. But Blythe makes the point that “people shouldn’t expect a prison record.” In truth “Sturm und Drang”, which translates as ’Storm and Stress’ referring to an 18th century German art movement that prioritised subjective, emotional experience over social conventions, does indeed deal with Blythe’s experiences in prison. But among other things, it also deals with his deep admiration for the people of Prague and his questioning of the pervasiveness of media in what is perhaps thematically and musically, their most soul searching album to date.
Single track “512”, referring to the cell number Blythe was held in, opens a door into some new territory for Lamb of God. Eerie guitar work, like a high pitched siren, introduces the track with Blythe poetically describing the “six bars laid across the sky” and “four empty walls to fill the time.” There’s a menacing sense of danger and power pulsing throughout, giving huge weight to this track, as Blythe describes the cost and the fight for his survival and for his identity. Perhaps the reason why ‘VII: Sturm und Drang’ isn’t a prison album is because “512” on its own says all that needs to be said on the subject, making for a great single and the album’s standout track.