Whether or not Lamb Of God fans will be delighted or horrified by the title track of this stopgap EP remains to be seen, but this is a long way from business as usual. Most metal fans can cope with the occasional detour and Randy Blyth’s desire to expand his vocal repertoire was made plain on Overlord from VII: Sturm Und Drang, but The Duke is still a curious side-step.
With riffs that owe more to the post-grunge pseudo-metal of Sevendust and Disturbed and a chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Stone Sour record, it may not be solid evidence that Lamb Of God are mellowing, but it seems unlikely to make the diehards lose their shit in the same way that Redneck or Black Label routinely do. In truth, The Duke is just a teensy bit boring. The other new song here, Culling, is far better, not least because it sounds like, you know, proper Lamb Of God, but also because it feels like a box-fresh crowd-pleaser and a refined and streamlined encapsulation of the band’s sharpest traits. The three live tracks, all from VII…, are as explosive as you would expect, but Culling aside, this seems an oddly inessential effort.