Art Cruz

Album Review: Lamb Of God- Lamb Of God

Lamb Of God - Official Site

Lamb Of God have been at this for over two decades now and have solidified their place in the heavy music community. Throughout their time, they’ve released two albums that have become classics in the metal world (As The Palaces Burn and Ashes Of The Wake). Now, in 2020, Lamb Of God have released a new album with a renewed sense of energy that hasn’t been heard from them in a long while. That’s not to say that this sounds like a different band, it’s still Lamb through and through. Longtime drummer Chris Adler is no longer in the fold and has been replaced with the very accomplished Art Cruz (formerly of Winds Of Plague and Prong).

This album definitely seems to pick up where their previous one, VII Sturm Und Drang left off. There’s plenty of intricate parts, thrashy elements and metal to go around as well as a new groove that seems to have energized all the members to pick it up a bit more. Album opener “Memento Mori” has some very cool vibes that show that this is more than just a run of the mill song. The clean vocals from Randy Blythe actually fit in really well on this track. “Checkmate” lyrically is hard charging but, musically it does sound a bit familiar. “Gears” offers a bit more of that new groove I mentioned. I have a feeling this song live would be crowd favorite. My favorite song on the new album is “Reality Bath.” This one shows off a lot of diversity in what this band can do. The arrangement on this song along with “that groove” makes this one a stand out. “New Colossal Hate” is straight up Lamb Of God. This song needs to be added to their set list. It definitely has a bit of an Ashes vibe to it as well. “Resurrection Man” is a pretty fun song in that it has a bit of a Pantera-ish vibe mixed with a bit a sort of prog element too. This would be an interesting one to hear live. “Poison Dream” features Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta. This song is another very Lamb sounding song. Jamey’s vocals do tend to get lost in the shuffle on this track. It would have been cooler if there was a badass breakdown and he was unleashed. “Routes” is a very introspective song lyrically about Randy’s time spent protesting at the Dakota Access Pipeline. Testament’s Chuck Billy guests on this track in a passionate way. “Bloodshot Eyes” is a song that musically could have fit very easily on guitarist Mark Morton’s solo album. The inclusion of mostly clean vocals on this one is sure to separate some fans but, it’s definitely a welcome change. “Off The Hook” closes out the album and this one is pretty hard charging.

This album is Lamb Of God doing what they do. It’s not reinventing the wheel. It does have a bit of a different vibe since Chris Adler is no longer involved but, it was needed change. Art Cruz, like I mentioned before, has brought a new energy and groove to the band. That groove he learned from playing in Prong, definitely shows through. Mark Morton and Willie Adler have really become quite the guitar duo over the years and on this album it really comes to light a bit more. John Campbell is a seriously underrated bass player. His style along with Art’s are super in sync and it allows for the right amount of breath to be let out on these songs. Randy Blythe’s vocals have really taken shape in interesting ways. He’s still ferocious and gritty but, being able to expand upon the dynamics of the songs with clean parts give these songs something more than just a run of the mill vibe. Overall, this album is solid and a great place to start anew. I can definitely see a few of these songs becoming live staples for a good amount of time. Also, I can really see Art Cruz finding his own place in this band and helping to push the boundaries of what this band can do.

Rating: 8/10

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Live Review: Mark Morton, Light The Torch & Moon Tooth at The Roxy

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On a clear Monday night in Los Angeles, at the legendary Roxy on Sunset, three bands, each with their own style, left an imprint on this fabled street and venue. Those in attendance (and there were quite a few, especially on a Monday), were witness to one hell of an energetic evening of heavy music. Led by headliner Mark Morton along with Light The Torch and up and comers Moon Tooth, there was no stopping the train of heavy from decimating the Roxy.

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Opening up the evening was Moon Tooth. Ever since I heard of them a few months back, I’ve been highly intrigued by them. Their blend of heavy and psychedelia mixed with bits of prog and jazz makes them one of the most exciting new bands to come along in a while. Their second album Crux (which comes out Friday March 29), is one hell of a record and it most definitely will be at top ten album of the year. Every minute of their set was absolutely on fire. As they ripped through new songs like “Trust,” “Omega Days,” and “Awe At All Angles,” there was no question that these four gents are primed for something great. Each member from Nick Lee (Guitar/Vocals), John Carbone (Vocals), Ray Marte (Drums/Vocals), and Vin Romanelli (Bass), really gave it everything for each song. Personally I was kind of bummed their set ended. I really wanted more. Moon Tooth really got the crowd going and delivered a performance that when they are headlining their own shows, will be talked about for some time.

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The middle slot of the night belonged to Light The Torch (formerly Devil You Know) and they brought the thunder with them. As the lights dimmed down, the frenzied crowd lost their shit when singer Howard Jones took the stage. For the next hour, Light The Torch, riding high off their new album, Revival, Howard Jones along with Francisco Artusato (Guitar), Ryan Wombacher (Bass/Vocals) and Mike Sciulara (Drums) delivered a set that was inspiring and crushing. Playing songs like “Die Alone,” “Calm Before The Storm,” “The Bitter End,” “The God I Deserve,” and “The Safety Of Disbelief,” there was no doubt on anyone’s mind that Light The Torch are here to stay. One of the best parts of their performance was the interaction between Howard and the crowd. It’s clear that Howard is a favorite among many people. His time in Killswitch Engage was something special and getting Howard back doing what he is meant to do is just great. Light The Torch are primed for a take over and rightfully so.

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The main event of the evening belonged to Mark Morton of Lamb Of God. His debut solo album, Anesthetic, is a departure from what most fans of Lamb Of God are used to. This evening though showcased what a talented songwriter Mark is as well as solidifying his status as a modern day guitar hero. For this tour Mark recruited drummer Art Cruz (Prong, Winds Of Plague and Chris Adler’s fill in for Lamb Of God), guitarist Doc Coyle (God Forbid, Bad Wolves) and Sons Of Texas members Mark Morales on vocals (who also sang the song “Blur” on the record) and Nick Villarreal on bass. This lineup along with Mark on lead guitar stormed through their set with vigor and passion. The songs on the album feature a diverse style of songs ranging from super heavy like “The Truth Is Dead” and “The Never” to more rock styles like “Cross Off,” “Sworn Apart,” “Save Defiance,” “Blur,” and “Imaginary Days.” The best songs though are the total curve balls like “Axis” and “Reveal” which truly show how good Mark Morton really is. The performances of these songs were right on target. Mark Morales did a stellar job handling the vocal duties for all these songs. The tandem guitars of Morton and Coyle were spot on and the pounding and thunderous rhythm of Cruz and Villarreal was right in the pocket. They even had a couple special guests joining them on stage. Naeemah Maddox was brought up to sing her song “Reveal” as well as staying on stage to perform “The Truth Is Dead” with Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour, Soulfly, Abloom, etc) pounding the drums.

 
What a great night for every band on the bill. Each band was different and brought an energy that carried on to the next. It’s shows and tours like this that get people excited and want to go see live music. Not only was that a great show but, it was a great way to start the week. I know I’ll be replaying the show in my head for sometime, especially Moon Tooth. I can’t wait for them to come through town again. And a special shout out to Heavy Grass for making it happen for me to attend this great show!

 

Review and Shots By: Brian Lacy

(I was too into the show to take many pictures).

Underrated and Influential: Prong

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As a music enthusiast since a very young age, I’ve been able to see the power and effect specific bands from a point in time have on genres and on their peers. It’s truly a remarkable thing to see and hear. There is one band in particular that never really got their due and that is a bit unsettling in my mind. That band is Prong.

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