Lamb of God Sacrament

It’s still kind of hard to wrap my head around just how much success this Virginia-based thrash band have had over the past five years, but they deserve it. On the strength of albums like their last, Ashes of the Wake, and now Sacrament, these guys are going to go down in history as one of metal’s strongest bands. While Ashes was an incredibly solid album, it did get a trifle monotonous about two-thirds of the way through; with Sacrament, the guys have mixed things up enough to keep that battered, thousand-mile-stare off the face of the listener. Vocalist Randy Blythe throws in a few unexpected sounds, both more melodic and more vicious. The opening growl to "Again We Rise,” probably the coolest metal song of the year, actually startled me when I first heard it. And the drumming is just getting cooler and cooler. With songs all over the place here destined to become LoG live classics (see the excellent "Redneck” and album opener "Walk with Me in Hell”), a warm production sound, and a truly venomous spit-shine, this is the album we were all hoping these guys would come up with next. (Epic)