Album Review: As the Palaces Burn (10th Anniversary Edition) by Lamb of God

PromoImageRoughly about 10 years ago I started listening to a band I would have never imagined would ever explode to fame and heights that they soar at today.  Lamb of God was an extreme metal band that simply blew me away the moment I started listening to the opening track on my shiny As the Palaces Burn CD that I had bought on a friends recommendation.  My first impression was that Lamb of God are carrying the torch of New Wave of American Metal that the legendary Pantera had lit a decade before.  But I also thought, due to the intensity of the music it would only appeal to a niche sect of people already established in the realms of death metal.  Pantera were heavy as fuck, but they still were very accessible, and at the time metalcore was taking off, and while there were some pretty extreme bands getting popular, they were also rife with accessibility.  Lamb of God was brutal, intense, pissed off, and pulled no punches.  Yet somehow, their no-holds-barred style of groove/death metal hit a chord with both seekers of more accessible metal as well as lovers of the extreme spectrum and a legend was born.

Now, after a series of much-loved albums, a rise to fame, a manslaughter trial, and more or less becoming the most famous extreme metal band on the planet the Virginians are taking a moment to step back and appreciate their roots.  Out now is the 10th Anniversary Edition of Lamb of Gods breakthrough album As the Palaces Burn.  Included in the package is a completely remixed and remastered version of said album as well as expanded liner notes, bonus demo tracks, and a DVD chronicling the making of the record and some interviews.  Not a bad deal at all, especially when you factor in that the remixing and remastering job on the album is some of the best refreshing work I’ve heard in a long time.

Josh Wilbur (remixing) and Brad Blackwood (remastering) have really outdone themselves and have reached Steven Wilson heights on the quality of their refreshing capabilities.  I listened to all of the tracks side by side and while the original did have some great production values (it was, in fact originally produced by the great Devin Townsend), it almost sounds like that album was recorded using black metal ethos by comparison.  Most notable is how on the Anniversary Edition the drums are so clean and their volume levels honed to perfection.  Chris Adler is a beast behind the kit and not only hearing his extremely technical proficient assault much cleaner, having the volume of his drums adjusted adds an incredible amount of punch to each and every song on the record.  It pretty much creates a whole new dynamic to the album.  When he hits a snare you physically feel it smacking you in the head and likewise each bass drum beat is a punch to the gut.  Due to his precision the attacks of guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler also have plenty of room to unfurl their groove laden attacks as well with needle-head accuracy.

The guitars also have had their tones and volumes cleaned up and like the effect the drumming has on the record, the same could be said about the 6 strings.  I also really appreciated the work done on John Campbell’s bass work.  Since Lamb of God’s sound and style rely on groove so much any muddying of or reduction of bass would be a massive disservice to what all the other musicians are aiming to achieve.  Here, as well as getting the standard tone and volume treatment, I noticed that the bass work is not only more punchy and pronounced, but holds a much more noticeable interplay between the drum work, something that never really caught my ear in the thousands of times I’ve listened to the original.  About the only thing that felt largely unchanged was Randy Blythe’s vocals which just got the standard clean up and are still filled with piss, vinegar, and vitriol.

The DVD packaged with the set is also quite cool for those of you who are into that sort of thing.  Personally I don’t go to crazy for these things but in its hour + running time I found myself glued to my screen.  The interviews are interesting and the commentary gives some great insight into the personalities and history behind the record.  I feel that anyone who digs behind the scenes style stuff will be beyond pleased.

The demo tracks are enjoyable as well, though unfortunately, demos aren’t really my bag like the behind the scenes stuff.  I did find it interesting to hear early versions of some songs to hear what they were transformed into, so that was cool.  Unfortunately, I’m reviewing this on a promo copy, so I haven’t been able to see the liner notes yet or the attributes and construction of the physical package first hand.  Going by photos it looks well made and should look great in your collection.

So, all in all, if you somehow haven’t gotten into Lamb of God yet the Anniversary Edition of As the Palaces Burn is a damn fine place to start as it still holds place as one of the very best albums the band has to offer.  For those who have owned the record for quite a while now, I still recommend picking this up to replace your dusty and scratched up copy, I know I will be.  The remixing and remastering are simply outstanding and the added dynamic will have discovering details you never knew existed.  Take note producers, this is how you remaster an album (and also how you should make any new album sound!  I want to feel the drums dammit!).  Now…. Where’s my remastered copy of New American Gospel!!!!!  Peace Love and Metal!!!!


About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on November 20, 2013, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Sadly I saw Lamb of God two times before i knew who they were or could even appreciate their extreme style, you are right they sound like they were influenced by Pantera. At best I liked maybe one song on an album and then when I saw them at Download Festival something clicked…I guess their energy on stage combined with the raw energy from their CDs finally got to me. So, I have been exploring more of LoG to include this remaster and I like what I hear. I guess it sometimes takes time to appreciate something…seems like I had the opposite experience you did with Lamb of God’s music, but the end result is nearly the same Incidentally, I saw them open for Anthrax back around 2003, then for Slayer around 2006 and at Download 2010 – where they finally hit me and then got to see them again at Download in 2012 where I certainly appreciated seeing them rip it on stage again.

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