Burn the Priest – Burn the Priest Review

Burn the Priest
Burn the Priest
Epic Records

Lamb of God has steadily pushed its way to the front of the line when it comes to modern American heavy metal. With last year’s “Ashes of the Wake,” the band’s first effort on a major label, Lamb of God proved it was a force to be reckoned.

Of course, this news was nothing new to the band’s long-time fans that had pounded fists to 2003’s “As the Palaces Burn,” or the group’s debut, 2000’s “New American Gospel.”

But until now, this five man wrecking crew’s first outing, under the moniker Burn the Priest, was a little known and hard-to-find gem in the Lamb of God war chest.

No longer… the album has been remixed and remastered for the band’s legions of fans.

“Burn the Priest” is far more raw than the quintet’s more recent material. The sludgy, thrash-meets-death metal musical framework is still readily apparent; it’s front man Randy Blythe that stands out here. As much as the band seems to channel an intense version of Pantera, on “Burn the Priest” Blythe sounds more like Phil Anselmo (Pantera lead singer) fronting Superjoint Ritual on its first release. That is to say the vocal delivery sounds far more strained and guttural than simply intense. Track after track, Blythe tears through lyrics that seem more of an afterthought given the sick guitar riffs and intense (double-bass) drumming accompanying him.

Lamb of God fans will recognize tracks like the album’s opener, “Bloodletting,” as it has remained a staple of the band’s live act. Other songs like “Chronic Auditory Hallucination” and “Salvation” unfold at a breakneck pace as it seemed clear the band was content with going in, kicking ass and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

“Lame” is a bludgeoning masterpiece, while “Dimera” is pure brutality. The vocals switch from an ungodly howl to a scream with abandon, and every breakdown sounds like it was crafted to start a near-riot in any mosh pit.

It’s clear from “Burn the Priest,” which was originally independently released in 1999, that Lamb of God had a strong future in the metal industry (through I doubt anyone could foresee just how great the band was to become).

While there’s some filler at times, overall this is pretty solid metal release, albeit a little more “extreme” than the material the band releases nowadays. Any Lamb of God fan will be happy to add this to their collection. Other metal fans could be just as happy, provided you aren’t looking for any melodic bridges — this is metal that fans of thrash and death will love.