#18: LAMB OF GOD – NEW AMERICAN GOSPEL
We recently polled a wide array of musicians, managers, publicists, label reps, and writers from within the world of metal to find out what they thought the 21 Best Metal Albums of the 21st Century So Far have been. Eligible albums were released between January 1, 2000 and April 1, 2009. Each panelist turned in a ballot, with their #1 album worth 21 points, their #2 album worth 20 points, and so on and so forth. The ballots are now in and we’ll be counting down one album a day until we reach #1. Today we present the #18 album, coming in with a total of 110 points…
Lamb of God, New American Gospel (Prosthetic, 2000)
Randy Blythe — Vocals
Mark Morton — Guitars
Willie Adler – Guitars
John Campbell — Bass
Chris Adler — Drums
Produced by Steve Austin and Lamb of God
Any fan attending any Lamb of God show in the last nine years has had absolute confidence in one aspect of the set list: they’re going to close with “Black Label.” It has been such a staple for the band that I can say with utmost certainty that should they continue for another nine years, this song will never go unplayed. Why would they rob their fans of the perfect closer? From the tension building intro with that insistent piccolo snare (dundundun pop pop pop pop pop pop dun dundun) to the crippling breakdown, there is so much finality in the song that an encore would undermine it completely. It’s the goddamn encore-annihilator! This is your last chance to dance, motherfuckers!!! This song makes teenagers want to rush each other to butt heads. When I was just a wee sprite and I first saw the video, I thought I had finally discovered death metal. “Black Label” is violently heavy.
So could the message be any clearer on 2000’s New American Gospel when it appears as the opening track? Mike Tyson v. Hector Mercedes – 1985. First Round Knockout.
It was Lamb of God’s first step after changing their name from Burn the Priest, and though it was only the beginning of a successful career, I don’t believe the band can ever repeat the feel they captured on this album.
All of its immediate flaws have come full circle in my opinion to become downright charming. It’s youthful, maybe even a bit amateur at some points. Remember, this is from a time before Randy Blythe got expert vocal coaching, when John Campbell only had three strings on his bass, the Willie Adler/Mark Morton frontline was still learning to shred and even the intimidating Chris Adler had only recently decided to play drums full-time.
New American Gospel is the sound of a band desperate to be heard. This band knows it’s good, and they will bludgeon you until you agree. I think “bludgeon” is the right word to use because there is a certain lack of subtlety. Stylistically, the metal-to-core ratio is a pretty even split, and there’s more breakdowns per capita than any other record.
Of course this fits with their vision: directly heavy music minus the bullshit. Though the production by Today is the Day legend Steve Austin might sound barbaric next to later releases with Machine, it captures perfectly an underground sound for a band that was too good for subterranean obscurity.
You want moments? How about the recurring breakdown in “In the Absence of the Sacred?” The thundering build-up midway through “Pariah?” The Slayer-solo that opens “Terror and Hubris in the Hous of Frank Pollard?” The serpentine riffing of “Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion?” What about the Southern style poser-beatdown of the colorfully titled “Officer Dickhead Gets A Black Fucking Eye?” Right there is what I love about this record: it’s immediacy. There’s no time to make each riff perfect or write political lyrics, so just write about somebody who pissed you off the other day. You’d have to be pissed off to record this music anyway.
It’s a pretty confident crew that decides to name their album New American Gospel. Take note that the “American” part of that isn’t accidental. While Europeans have always displayed a certain amount of finesse in their metal, American metal has usually been far less pretty. It seems only appropriate that this crude but undeniably fierce album would lead a whole new era across a continental scene.
Blythe 1:10 reads: “Exterminate with extreme prejudice.”
THE LIST SO FAR:
THE PANEL OF VOTERS
Chris Adler, Lamb of God
Dan And, Bison B.C.
Ben Apatoff, Apatoff for Destruction/Metal Injection
Jason Bittner, Shadows Fall
Tim Brennan, Ferret Music/Channel Zero Entertainment
Freddy Cai, Painkiller Magazine
Ian Christe, Bazillion Points
Reverend David J. Ciancio, Yeah! Management
Betsey Cichoracki, Relapse Records
Paul Conroy, Ferret Music/Channel Zero Entertainment
J. Costa, Thy Will Be Done
Dallas Coyle, ex-God Forbid/Coyle Media
Doc Coyle, God Forbid
Anso DF, MetalSucks/Hipsters Out of Metal!
Vince Edwards, Metal Blade Records
Charles Elliott, Abysmal Dawn/Nuclear Blast Records
Brian Fair, Shadows Fall
Leo Ferrante, Warner Music Group
D.X. Ferris, author 33 1/3: Reign in Blood/Freelance Journalist
Mike Gitter, Roadrunner Records
Nick Green, Decibel
Matt Grenier, August Burns Red
Anthony Guzzardo, Earache Records
Kevin Hufnagel, Dysrhythmia
Mark Hunter, Chimaira
Steve Joh, Century Media
EJ Johantgen, Prosthetic Records
Kim Kelly, Metal Injection/Hails & Horns/Freelance Journalist
Josh “The J” Key, Psychostick
Jason Lekberg, Epic Records
Eyal Levi, Daath
Bob Lugowe, Relapse Records
Matt McChesney, The Autumn Offering
Jake McReynolds, Psychostick
Marc Meltzer, The Syndicate
Josh Middleton, Sylosis
Matt Moore, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder
Vince Neilstein, MetalSucks
Sammy O’Hagar, MetalSucks
Anton OyVey, MetalSucks/Bacon Jew
Rob Pasbani, Metal Injection
Alex Preiss, Psychostick
Carlos Ramirez, NoiseCreep/NetReach
Brian Rocha, Fresno Media USA
Jeremy Rosen, Roadrunner Records
Axl Rosenberg, MetalSucks
Satan Rosenbloom, MetalSucks/Cerebral Metalhead
David Bee Roth, MetalSucks
Jason Rudolph, Heavy Hitter, Inc.
Amy Sciarretto, Roadrunner Records/NoiseCreep
Carl Severson, Ferret Music/Channel Zero Entertainment
Gary Suarez, MetalSucks/No Yoko No/Brainwashed
Geoff Summers, The End Records/Crustcake
Bram Teitelman, The Syndicate/Metal Insider
Alisha Turull, Heavy Hitter, Inc.
Christopher R. Weingarten, 1000TimesYes/Freelance Journalist