Lamb of God - As The Palaces Burn
Prosthetic Records
Aggressive Melodic Metalcore
10 songs (38:57)
Release year: 2004
Lamb of God, Prosthetic Records
Reviewed by Aaron
Archive review

As The Palaces Burn is known by many names. Some scorn it, calling it nothing more than a slow Slayer album with more modern production and worse vocals. Some despise it so utterly that it is beneath their contempt. Some call it artless, a pointless departure from what made Lamb of God great in the first place, and refuse to support it.

Those people, by the way, are all wrong. As The Palaces Burn arrived at the perfect time, when many were wondering whether the metalcore scene had anything left to offer. Guess what- it does. Meet As The Palaces Burn by Lamb of God.

ATBP was, indeed, a great departure from the first LoG album, but that, in my opinion, is what makes it great. It does not try to replicate New American Gospel, but takes the best elements of NAG and gives them a nice polished sheen, while adding in new influences, shining the production up a bit, strengthening the songwriting, and incorporating some dizzyingly addictive songs integrated with catchy hooks that, unlike most hook-laden songs, don’t wear thin after six or seven listens. (Here’s lookin’ at you, Soilwork.)

This album was a pivotal moment in LoG’s career. It would get them noticed by Epic after hitting the 100,000 mark in sales, which was rather high for such a small label.

But by then, LoG had buying power. After touring their Southern asses off for a long, long, time and developing into one of the most intense non-death metal live acts in metal music today, they deserved it.

The album opens with Ruin, which sounds like an homage to Testament, with the twin-axe guitar dueling. However, this will be the place where a first flaw shall slip through and make you wrinkle your nose.

Devin Townsend of SYL and countless other bands fame produced this album. He did a pretty goddamned ‘meh’ job. Damnit Devin, why’d ya do it? It isn’t as cataclysmically dismal as the production for St Anger, but it really detracts from the album on first listen. The guitars, while placed in the front and center, are not... not... right. They’re thin and weak, and too emphasized. They almost entirely drown out the spectacular drumwork of Chris Adler, whom I would kill to meet. There are exceptions and times when he shines through (Ruin especially; the breakdown riff is drum-driven), but mostly, it’s practically inaudible. Shame on you, Townsend. Shame.

Back to Ruin. The guitar dueling eventually gives way to an opening scream from Randy. Randy’s vocals on this album are the worst on any LoG album in terms of brutality and listenability. They’re not nearly as powerful as on the more polished Ashes of the Wake, and they’re not nearly as gritty as they were on New American Gospel. Though he is attempting to strike an individual presence behind the mic, he’s not there yet.

Ruin is an excellent opener. Like other famous openers Battery and Moonshield, it gets you excited to listen to the album, see what it’s like. The only real problem with Ruin is the production, as the songwriting is stellar.

On to As The Palaces Burn. Built upon a largely contrived riff with an irritatingly steady drumbeat, this is the weakest song on the album. The riff in question is stretched out far too much, and the vocals are another nail in the foot. While it deftly brings forth response from myself, this response is usually ‘is it over yet?’ Passable but annoying.

And now begins the glorious run of the album with Purify, featuring a Chris Poland guitar solo and riff after riff of complete and straight up aggression. While the lyrics may be generic and uninspired, it evokes quite a touch of anger even in a calm fellow that I once played it for. It is luckily devoid of Randy yelling ‘GO!’ before breakdowns, which he only does once. Why do people feel the need to declare a breakdown? They may as well stop the song entirely and say ‘Hey guys, we’re gonna insert a breakdown ‘round here, so get ready!’ Whose idea was it? Shoot him. Publicly, if possible.

Continuing the aforementioned glorious run is 11th Hour, the first single. Starting off with a purely METAL riff, it quickly generates monstrous riffs and powerful drumming highlighted by Randy’s lyrics about his alcoholism. It’s more interesting then you might think, really. Traces of Slayer and Megadeth can be heard all over the track as it climaxes with an incredibly powerful scream and some absolutely INSANE riffing. A must-listen.

Next up is For Your Malice, starting off with a Gothenburg-influenced lead intro that positively OOZES groove from every Pantera-influenced pore, it... goes into a song that is basically a Pantera song with lyrics that are a touch too well-read to have been penned by Anselmo and a lead intro that would sound out of place on a Pantera album. The only thing stopping this from becoming an actual Pantera track is the fact that Pantera isn’t around anymore. I used the word ‘Pantera’ in every sentence of this paragraph. Anyway, the song rocks, another must-listen. Pantera Pantera.

Boot Scraper is next. Ay, ay, ay, why have you made it so LONG? This is the first ‘meh’ song on the album. Though it has a strong enough opening, it quickly degenerates into basic math-metal riffing that sounds stolen straight from Nothing, and showcases the monotony of the tempo on this album, something that irritates me.

The next is Devil in God’s Country, which starts out with some tasteful yet addictive double-bassing that I admire, and crashes into a riff that sounds as if it might be from somewhere in the first half, though damned if I can find it.... eh, whatever. The song itself is okay, but by now the lack of tempo change should be really annoying you.

Next song? Why, that’s In Defense Of Our Good Name, which has polyrhythmic riffing and tempo changes by the barrel! What’s this? They’re all eminently predictable? Just like the next song, Blood Junkie? And they sound both very similar? Damn, damn, damn. Here I thought they had something new up their sleeves... I suppose they don’t....

WRONG!

The closer is Vigil, one of the greatest LoG songs ever written. Starting off with a mellow acoustic intro that soon slams headfirst into a wall of doomy, brutal as fuck riffing and some great vocals (at last!), this is probably the best or second best song on the album. It leads perfectly into a stellar breakdown at the end, highlighted by Randy’s neverending growls.

In conclusion, think of ATPB as a ‘transition’ album. While not their best, it was an excellent album that deserves praise, but was merely a gun-up for Ashes of the Wake. Buy this if you enjoyed Ashes and vice versa.

Killing Songs :
Vigil, Ruin, Purify, 11th Hour, For Your Malice
Aaron quoted 86 / 100
Dylan quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Lamb of God that we have reviewed:
Lamb of God - VII: Sturm und Drang reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Lamb of God - Resolution reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Lamb of God - Wrath reviewed by Khelek and quoted 75 / 100
Lamb of God - New American Gospel reviewed by Dylan and quoted 93 / 100
Lamb of God - Sacrament reviewed by Adam and quoted 83 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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