First and foremost, it should be noted that ‘The Duke’ is a tribute to late fan of the band, Wayne Ford. It is an attempt to raise awareness of leukaemia as part of a fundraising campaign set up by the band themselves. Lamb of God should be commended for this gesture and tribute. Knowing Ford’s story going into this EP makes it an uneasy listen, but it is a release I intend to judge from a purely musical standpoint.
It would be easy to bemoan the lack of original material here, as only two original songs and three live offerings compile the track listing, but completists will be happy to know there are at least some surprises here.
The main surprise is the fact that Randy Blythe sings cleanly throughout the first track. His crisp, clean vocal delivery on ‘The Duke’ is almost unrecognisable, and not something ever associated with a band this wild. Although Lamb of God have always been melodic in their own way, they have never released a song this radio friendly, and for good reason. A full album like this would be a disaster. This style just does not suit them. Despite it’s good intentions, Blythe’s vocals can only carry a pedestrian hard rock song so far. I hope this stays as a onetime experiment.
Second original track ‘Culling’ fares a little better, but does not exactly set the pulse racing. Although this does have the usual pace and bounce expected, there’s precious little else that will excite fans. Blythe’s feral vocals do make a welcome return though.
The three live recordings are each performed with the typical vigour associated with one of the best live metal bands on the planet. Although your enjoyment of them will purely depend on your opinion of the ‘Sturm Und Drang’ album they were plucked from.
‘The Duke’ by Lamb of God is out now on Nuclear Blast.
Words by Joe Philpott (@joe_philpott)