Lamb Of God‘s The Duke EP continues the expanded and once unthinkable melodic vocal direction in the band’s sound. It will really be enjoyed solely on if this sits well with you or not, as the band have remained great songwriters and of course still have a hot streak of metal running through everything they create. You can’t blame the band for wanting a bigger hit at rock radio after all these years, and it isn’t like they sound like Maroon 5 now or something. The title track of this EP still has a scorching solo and some decadent metal screams from Randy, though it is also a far cry from the intensity of even a more crowd pleaser like “Redneck” (to say nothing of the classic Burn The Priest stuff).
I will always love As The Palaces Burn best, because it captured a certain vitriol and spirit of protest that was much needed at that time. I am hoping with President Elect Trump that Lamb also continue to speak up as aggressively as possible against fascism and call Trump out on Union busting mega Wall street pandering practices that show what a lie his campaign promises to the little guy were. “Culling” is awesome as Randy screams “I couldn’t make this shit up” and talks about the heartland as a smoking wreck, also sounding like he is taking on religious intolerance. That’s a good sign, and the song has a very Megadeth influenced sense of attack on the bridge and slick solo. It sounds like a Sacrament-era tune, actually. And there is a super cool drum break passage in the middle before a sea sick reintroduction of the all screams “hook”. It is a nice contrast to the melodic title track and should reassure older fans, but hopefully they also will be open to Lamb’s newer sound as well.
These guys are champs and like Candiria or Whitechapel have more than earned a foray into other waters at times to round out their set. Anyone wondering at Lamb’s live effectiveness still should check the over the top and ferocious version of “Still Echoes” from Rock am Ring that is included here, or ’512′ from Bonnaroo about “a shitty fucking place I spent a little time in.”
A live version of “Engage The Fear Machine” takes us out with a rattling drum intro of snare madness before the unified barrage hammers down. Lamb are an institution at this point. “Here we go again, the world is coming to an end,” sure still sounds relevent to me as Native American water protectors are hosed by police in freezing temperatures while we pardon a turkey and Neo Nazi Alt Right Trump supporters “Heil” INSIDE the Ronald Reagan building. Like Fear Factory’s “Fear Campaign”, the LOG song “Engage The Fear Machine” reminds us that fear of one another got us here, but resisting it will set us free.