Lamb Of God’s next album is coming in hot this May.
Kicking off with some banal in-studio banter and the kind of bendy, Southern-flavoured riff-work that Lamb Of God has built a mighty career off of, new song ‘Checkmate‘ gallops forward into being a familiar-sounding LOG metal jam; with big grooves, meaty breakdowns, and biting political-heavy lyrics alike. It’s pretty standard fare for the Richmond, Virginia act, sounding like a mid-ground between 2004’s ‘Ashes Of The Wake‘ and 2016’s ‘VII: Sturm und Drang.’ If you know what these guys do, then I guarantee you’ll know what this song sounds like before even pressing play.
‘Checkmate‘ is the studio debut for the band’s new drummer, Art Cruz, who has also kept time for Prong, Klogr, and most notably, Winds of Plague, whilst drumming with LOG on-the-road for a couple of years now. And on-record, the guy seems to fully fill out the big shoes of former-drummer powerhouse, Chris Adler, very well judging by his drumming on this one song. If I didn’t know that Chris was already out of the band, then I would just assume that that was him still drumming for LOG, not Art. Which should tell you all you need to know about Art’s fitting percussion performance acting as the rhythmic backbone for the band with ‘Checkmate.’
With the U.S. 2020 election cycle ramping up for the Democrats with the Iowa caucus happening this week (with much confusion and app-malfunctions), ‘Checkmate‘ releasing now isn’t an accident. It’s a comment on the media-hype and the shambling circus of the campaign trails that whip that nation into a frenzy every four years; about how nothing changes except for the names and faces.
Randy Blythe is a smart dude; a clever writer, an informed man, and a phenomenal vocalist. Yet the lyrics that propel the message of ‘Checkmate‘ are sorely hit and miss. In the first verse, there’s this gem: “Double takes and doublespeak, you scripting the facade. Asphyxiate and choke the truth, all hail the money god.” During the bridge’s breakdown, we get a poignant comment on the nature of two-party elections, with: “You try to pick the lesser of, but evil doesn’t come in twos. Bellicose and balkanized, a sinking ship of fools.” Yet the track is also dotted with somewhat tired and dated lines like “Make America hate again and bleed sheep to sleep,” and “Repeat, echo, refrain. No, never again. The American scream” all feel quite skin-deep for LOG. A shame, given how interesting and enlightening this band’s lyrics can be most of the time.
Stream ‘Checkmate‘ below: