I know that many of us out there has certainly listened this song to death in the past, but it remains one of my very favourite music pieces of all time, right down the structure composition of the lyrics.
This is one of the very few songs conceptually composed by Mark Morton, another notable song is “Descending” from the Album Sacrament.
It starts out with a blinder of a riff, played by none other than Mark Morton, who is soon joined by the rest of the ensemble. The riff continues, in discretized fashion for a few bars, with the stand-out, fall-in-love, heavy-double-bass-followed-by-snare signature drum style of Chris Adler, that makes me fan of Lamb of God all over again. This riff has a uniquely precise-lazy signature to it that remained unrivalled in my music collection for some time.
This riff soon makes room for a more even-tempo, drum and palm-muted guitar with a keyboard-sounding lead guitar melody overtone of the original riff, before alternating back to the original sticky riff.
Then they change up the tempo, with the guitarists doubling up on the starting riff, and Chris Adler adopting a more groove-metal style, smoothly incremented double bass riff, that for me, remains the groove-metal home frequency. After a few bars, he [Chris Addler] adds some off-time bell accents, just shows the level of detail that this song contains.
The chorus, is a re-worked version of the original riff, with a strategically altered palm-mute pattern, before running with the original riff once more.
This pattern repeats once more from the sticky bit, to the chorus, where they add a post-chorus, which is the first time they really break the momentum of the song, only to rebuild it soon. With the focus falling away from the guitar driven nature of the song, and focus falling on the lyrics momentarily, along with the breakdown. Started of by a palm-muted riff, soon joined by the other guitar, boasting the opening riff, they regain the momentum by jumping into the chorus riff with Randy wielding a violent scream, and guitars doubling up on the opening riff once more. This is the pinnacle of the song for me.
To conclude this epic journey, they add a new riff that serves to build the momentum again, just before skipping to a brilliantly relaxed outtro with a melody of the opening riff playing over the same palm-muted mono-tone guitar riff.
This was the very first Lamb of God song I ever liked, and to this day remains one of the very finest I have ever heard.
I cannot wait to see them live in two week’s time! But back to the point…
This entire song is composed mostly of one riff, with minor accents alterations and stylistics variations. The entire rest of the song, in terms of tempo and groove is determined solely by the drums of Chris Adler. The entire emotion of the song is directed by the drums in this song.
And just to add that special something that will forever distinguish this song from all others, the lyrics are, well, very good. I have never been much of an interpreter when it comes to the original meaning of lyrics, but I am creative enough to find deep and meaningful interpretation in these well written, and well structured lyrical arrangements.
The drumming is the primary reason why I believe that the recent Trivium album, “Vengeance Falls”, will not supersede any of their previous release, barring “In Waves”, in terms of brilliance. It is not because of the quality in song writing, vocals, technical guitar ability or even the reduced Matt Heafy screaming on the recent record. I will simply state that Trivium is not the same band it was before the departure of Travis Smith, and consequently, have lost that tempo infusing factor that Chris Adler gives Lamb of God. The “Vengeance Falls” album has striking vocal and melodic elements, which no doubt has been contributed to by David Draiman’s production efforts. The guitar work, as always, remains of superior standard, and the bassist does his thing, and does it very well. But the factor that lacks for me is the drumming of Nick Augusto, which is too “interrupted”, for lack of a better term. This suppresses the thrash metal roots of Trivium in favour of a more nu-metal drum influence, that in my opinion clashes somewhat with what Trivium really ought to be, or at least in my mind’s eye, could be, and certainly once was.
For an even better argument as to why a drummer is so particularly important, I invoke the rhetorical arguments: The new “Protest the Hero” album “Volition”, with Chris Adler, and the new “Avenged Sevenfold’ album, “Hail to the King”, without their long time drummer, The Rev. Also, here is, Protest the Hero – Clarity, with Chris Adler, Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King, without the Rev, Avenged Sevenfold – God Hates Us, with The Rev in support of the argument above. Also, above was Trivium – Ember to Inferno, with Travis Smith, and compare that with “Strife” below in terms of continuity and tempo.
And one last Travis Smith hoorah below.
Some would argue that perhaps Trivium were drifting in this direction in any case, and will have ended up at “Vengeance Falls” none the less, which certainly is a possibility, and in all probability, the reason why their creative collaboration with Travis Smith ended after “Shogun”, which in my opinion remains Trivium’s masterpiece. It also remains a strong possibility that the song writing in the new Trivium set up demands a different song structure, and perhaps Matt Heafy himself has drifted from his thrash roots. But I still want to blame it on the influence of the drummer at the time of writing.
In my circle of friends, “Shogun” remains the “de facto” standard against which all other releases has since been compared, both as a measure of any one album of any one band to its [band’s] best album, and the staying power of the album in it’s own right, amongst all other releases during the same time frame. I would say, it is the musical equivalent of the commercial success of Metallica’s “Black” album. (I make the distinction primarily because I believe that “Justice for All” is a better album, and so too are many of the previous albums, but it is an argument best reserved for later.).
“Vengeance Falls” is no “Shogun”.