15th Anniversary Retrospective

While attending Ozzfest 2004 at the venue formerly known as the Tweeter Center in Camden, I remember the energy building by the second stage as Lamb of God set up to take the stage. Riding the momentum from their classic 2003 album, As The Palaces Burn, Lamb Of God were already gearing up to release the album that would launch them to the forefront of heavy metal dominance. I remember receiving an Ozzfest exclusive Pure American Metal EP that contained a demo version of what would become one of their biggest hits, “Laid To Rest”.

Just over a year after the release of As The Palaces Burn, Lamb Of God released Ashes Of The Wake in August 2004. Being the band’s major label debut, the record set a precedent for what was to come in the band’s incredibly consistent discography. To commemorate the 15th anniversary, the record has been re-released as a 2xLP featuring three previously unreleased demos and b-side "Another Nail For Your Coffin”. It goes without saying that this album launched Lamb Of God’s status to a higher level, scoring support slots with Slipknot and Fear Factory as well as headlining the inaugural Sounds Of The Underground.

Sitting down with the record that was played so often in my teenage years, I wasn’t shocked to realize that it holds up well in today’s metal climate. I was interested to see that the initial review on Stereokiller gave a respectable 4.35/5.00 due to the albums ability to grow on the listener. Chris Adler’s precise and crushing drums dominate the mix while never overbearing the twin guitar attack of Willie Adler and Mark Morton.

The production provided by Machine was so punchy and clean for such a heavy band, that I feel influenced many of their peer’s records. While many bands rely on modern production techniques as a crutch for their inability to play parts precisely, that is certainly not an issue for the musicians here. Machine’s production would heavily influence and shape the band’s sound on the following record, Sacrament, which would feature the band’s biggest mainstream hit in “Redneck”.

Tracks like “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For” and “Omerta” are still staples in the band’s set today and received favorably by their dedicated following they’ve amassed over the years. One of my favorite riffs of all time is the technically dizzying bridge riff to “Hourglass” that sounds twice as crazy once the harmony kicks in. The breakdown in “Laid To Rest” that leads off with frontman Randy Blythe’s bellowing “SAY WHO GIVES A FUCK” still gets my blood boiling and itch to leave mosh retirement.

Overall, this reissue is a great grab for any vinyl collectors looking for a proper release of this seminal album, or those longing to hear the pre-production demos that would be a respectable release on their own due to the strength of the songs themselves. Ashes Of The Wake is available for preorder now and will release May 3rd via Epic.