Album Review: Lamb of God – Omens

2020 brought us many things but in the realm of heavy metal, one of the most notable was Lamb of God delivering another album and in their long, storied career, finally going for the self-titled option. Which was a canny move on their part because it really was the most Lamb of God-y album they’ve released.

So, two years on from that, album nine from the Virginians, Omens, has the band continue the excellent form they showed then. Where its predecessor was very insular and straight-laced for the sake of consistency and making the tightest possible album they could, here, Lamb of God have questioned “Now, what?” Whilst there is definitely a sense of them picking up where they left off, there’s also a smattering of variation to be found within.

Largely, this is business as usual for Lamb of God and by this point in their career, if you aren’t a fan, this won’t make you a convert. Where the predecessor was about making the best Lamb of God album possible, this is about the band making an album for themselves. You can hear the band enjoying themselves – there’s a catharsis to be found throughout. Whilst they deliver on continuing to stay true to their moniker of groove metal, there’s a whole load of filth and noise to be found – essentially it’s an album that can hang with the likes of The Hyena Kill and God Damn.

As the album roars into life with “Nevermore”, it’s the band saying they’re back with something more mighty than the proverbial bang. A complete cacophony, this is Lamb of God setting out their manifesto for Omens – to go as hard in as little time as possible. As riffs duel each other, crunching and grinding around each other whilst vicious drums also make their presence known as they all fight for supremacy, it’s been mixed well to ensure everything breathes, keeping your attention simultaneously on everything as Randy Blythe darkly screams his vocals.

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With a band of their age, they’ve reached a point where they’ve nothing left to prove and instead, impart masterclasses on how to do heavy right. “Vanishing” is loaded with groove and is very much Lamb of God by numbers in the best possible way, teasing clean guitar tones at the end before one more round of filth. Meanwhile, the title track channels prime Pantera whilst pushing the band into more rockier territory than you’d expect. Spitting vitriol until there’s nothing left in the tank, the chugging riff batters through everything in its way until the fade-out.

“Gomorrah” is oppressive in its ominous tones, bleeding into every crevice to over-ride the brutality found upto that point. But it’s only a brief moment before it’s back to basics. “Grayscale” finds plenty of time to squeeze in characteristic squeals to balance out the grinding, snarling riffs. But it’s on the album closer where the band have saved the best for last. As the ideal crescendo for the entire album, it eclipses every other track in length, its slow burn opening exploding into something far more powerful, combining the few different forays into experimentalism on the album into one condensed song. Still managing to pack it with their trademark urgency and punk sneer, it feels half its length and it’s on this track you truly hear the benefit of the band recording in a room together. You can feel the band feeding off each other as they egg each other on to go harder. And it’s in this production element where the album becomes one of their best. Because as always, there’s that warmth that you just can’t replicate when you track everything individually.

Omens shows that when Lamb of God are on form, they’re unstoppable. As violent and as pissed off as they’ve ever been, they could have rested on the self-titled for a number of years and this is as close to a second part of that album we’ll get. Pulling you along for the ride, it’ll have you involuntarily headbanging as the five-man wrecking crew engage you from start to finish. It’s heavier than a lorry transporting several tons of concrete whilst urging you to find the nearest crowd and start a mosh pit. As one of their tightest listens, the ten-track album gets in and out before you realise it, consuming you as you allow yourself to be enveloped in the carnage within.

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Omens is released on 7th October

Header image by Travis Shinn

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