Over the years my tastes in music have changed, something that I think happens to most, if not all, people. In some cases, I can pin moments of that changing musical tastes to specific albums. Sacrament is one such album.
I first stumbled across an instrumental version of Sacrament, which was probably good. At the time, I was (for better or worse) a much more tender flower, who would have rejected the album outright due to the aggressive nature of the lyrics. However, time (and years spent as a surgeon – trust me, we can curse with the best of them) desensitized me to the point I not only didn’t reject the lyrics, I found solace in them.
Immediately, Sacrament grabs you with the groove of “Walk With Me in Hell”, a driving, pummeling track. It can be off putting. It can seem dark, negative, hateful. And yet, as with so much in music, there is much more to that. Instead, it actually is an invitation that builds to an anthemic crescendo, inviting us all to walk through Hell together, to lean on each other to get through the bullshit that life throws at us.
I find that incredibly inspiring.
Not all tracks have that same type of inspiration. “More Time to Kill” spews vitriol like few other songs. Take the opening lines, for example:
I just got the news today you were dying
Hot damn, we’re already partying
But please, before you have to leave
Let me tell you a few last things
But you know what? Talk about catharsis. Get done with that and you just feel better. It purges something out of you. Hell, you can’t look me in the eye and tell me we haven’t all felt that way about someone in our lives. Because we totally have, and we’ve wished we could say that. And so, Randy Blythe spews it out with gravel to boot.
Sacrament doesn’t ever really let up. Songs have massive, mosh-worthy, breakdowns. The vocals are relatively one note, harsh growls, but there is variability here and there, more than on previous albums. But you didn’t come to a Lamb of God album for sweet crooning. If you did, you done messed up, bro. One thing that Randy has always excelled in is the clarity of his delivery. It is too easy for harsh vocals to become unintelligible. That is avoided here, the lyrics are almost shockingly understandable. And that works in the music’s favor. Lamb of God works best for me as a vehicle for rage, frustration, and the need to process. Understanding the biting lyrics makes that so much more effective.
This certainly isn’t my favorite Lamb of God album (that would be Ashes of the Wake). But it was the first LoG album I listened to, start to finish. And it was a powerful introduction to a band I was aware of, but hadn’t really listened to up to that point. Live, this band is phenomenal (see the above banner picture), and they do an excellent job of translating their live energy to the record. Lamb of God is one of those bands that are just incredibly reliable. There isn’t ever any wondering what you are going to get. You know: aggressive, groove heavy music that will get you going, help purge some of the ugly out of you, and leave you feeling just a little bit better, no matter how bad the day was.