Lamb of God
With last year’s Sacrament, Lamb of God continued its decade-long evolution into a more nuanced metal monster. Having ditched the shock-value moniker Burn the Priest in 2000, the Virginia band has found subtler ways to incorporate religious iconography, such as the communion wafers scattered on Sacrament‘s cover. After several albums filled with pointed anti-Bush diatribes, Sacrament targets ambiguous enemies. (For example, “Redneck” sparked message-board debates about whether the titular “self-righteous laughingstock” was Bush or, because of the track’s uncharacteristically Pantera-like sound, Phil Anselmo.) Such strides toward sophistication aside, Lamb of God’s shows remain as brutal as ever, all swirling pits, savage technical riffs and terrifyingly enunciated threats, courtesy of singer Randy Blythe.