Lamb of God

The Duke

The Duke

Nuclear Blast Records/Universal Music Australia
Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Published 30/11/2016

Extended plays - aka EPs - are a funny thing. They are somewhat of a rarity these days really. Back in the days of CD singles, or if you’re old enough like me, cassingles and seven inch and twelve inch singles, they were more common. But thanks to the era of iTunes, Google Play and the overall devaluing of albums by being able to buy a single track only as you see fit, EPs are somewhat going the way of the dinosaur in recent times. Clearly Richmond, Virginia (U.S.A.) quintet Lamb of God is doing their best to buck that trend.

Clocking in at a mere five tracks, this well placed and well paced EP is everything it needs to be. Traditionally EPs consisted of a song or two that were nowhere to be found on an album backed with equally rare songs or versions of songs that were also nowhere else to be found. All five cuts that make up The Duke meet those criteria.

The most interesting part of this release is the title track. Named after a friend of the band, Wayne Ford, who passed away battling leukemia, it’s quite possibly the least Lamb of God sounding track in well, forever really. Originally recorded during the sessions for the band’s previous long player, 2015’s VII: Sturm Und Drang, vocalist Randy Blythe states “I talked with him often, even video chatted him into the studio. He was very calm about his impending death, and we discussed it very openly. I learned a lot from him. This song is for him.”

The title cut is a very sombre number that is backed by a typical Lamb of God type groove. What makes this different is Blythe’s mostly clean vocals. Sure there are parts where he unleashes his trade mark scream but the change-up is most welcome. It’s quite refreshing as far as Lamb of God material goes and as someone who has been rather jaded by the band’s often one dimensional approach to releases since 2006’s Sacrament, the track sits nicely amongst the changeups offered on VII: Sturm Und Drang as well.

The band is clearly back on point with Culling. It is chock full of anger and really can be classified as text book Lamb of God to be honest. It’ll go down a treat with fans in particular if the band’s post Sacrament era material is more to your liking. The remainder of the EP is fleshed out with live renditions of three cuts from VII: Sturm Und Drang - “Still Echoes”, “512” and “Engage the Fear Machine” from Rock Am Ring and Bonnaroo festivals. Nice enough but really, EP filler material in the typical manner we’ve seen before.

This was somewhat of a surprise EP in not only the new material contained within but also its unexpected arrival around the time of the band’s recent Aussie tour opening for Slipknot. It’ll keep their name out there for sure but really the appeal here is only for the band’s most dedicated fans.

More from Lamb of God

The Duke

Nuclear Blast Records/Universal Music Australia

Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Published 30/11/2016