With COVID-19 putting a decided pause on any plans to tour and promote their self-titled eighth record, last September Lamb Of God opted to instead dive into the world of livestreams as a way of showing exactly what their new songs could do. Which is to say, the same thing Lamb Of God always do – absolutely pummel the listener with their unrelenting metal brilliance.
Live in Richmond, VA captures the energy of a band thrilled to be back in a room playing together and thriving on creating an almighty racket. Equally, removed from live music for more than 12 months, there is an undeniable thrill to hearing them clattering off each other, the crystal-clear production picking up small ambient sounds that you’d likely not realised you’ve desperately missed until a misplaced swish of cymbals drives it all home.
That doesn’t mean the record doesn’t have its setbacks. For one, unable to road-test the material, the songs remain largely unchanged from their studio format; there’s no sense of added urgency or dramatic pacing creeping in as the band tweak the formula for the best results. As such, there are times when the release feels overly sterile, an echo chamber of the original album rather than an evolutionary step forward. Conversely, there are times when dynamics originally flattened with studio polish become decidedly more pronounced, lending a fresh vitality to the more established material.
Ultimately, this is a release as much for the band as it is for the fans. While it might not convert the uninitiated to the cause, rollicking renditions of songs like Memento Mori, Contractor and Ruin – as well as new studio outtakes Ghost Shaped People and Hyperthermic/Accelerate – ably demonstrate why Lamb Of God are still an indomitable force after a quarter-century in the game.