The release of a legendary album
The term “supergroup” gets thrown around a lot these days, but what about “super album,” hm? Well, that’s exactly what Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton has given life to. Morton pulled together metal’s best on his debut release, Anesthetic, which dropped at the beginning of March via Spinefarm Records/WPP Records.
The sound isn’t anything foreign, but it’s a good kind of comfortable. Often musicians get so focused on creating something groundbreaking that they lose sight of the genre that built them. This album is fresh, yet not disconnected from Lamb of God’s sound. In fact, it’s bound to become the poster child for genuine metal. There’s a reason why musicians like Morton have remained on their throne, and Anesthetic serves as a wakeup call to the younger generation’s restlessness.
Perhaps the most buzzed about song on this album was the initial track, “Cross Off,” for its posthumous feature of Chester Bennington. In April of 2017, Morton and Bennington entered the studio together. Nearly two years later, we’re gifted with a rage-filled track that only works to strengthen and uphold Bennington’s legacy. However, it’s hard to ignore how haunting it feels to listen to this song. Linkin Park fans will take solace in Morton’s recounts of his time working with Bennington, as well as laying witness to this remarkable piece of work.
“Cross Off” is followed up by “Sworn Apart”—a tumbling track featuring Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix. This song does a good job of recreating a formula Papa Roach fans are familiar with. The fast-paced verses crash into the melodic, arena-appropriate chorus. The song’s finalizing lyrics “to find your way back home” leads perfectly into the album’s first toned-back track, “Axis,” featuring the Johnny Cash of metal, Mark Lanegan. Lanegan’s downhome, cowboy vocals paint the image of a duster-clad apocalypse, making “Axis” stand brilliantly independent amongst the heavier tracks.
Morton continues his tour through metal titans with the feature of Buckcherry’s Josh Todd on “Back from the Dead.” Testament’s Chuck Billy, as well as a more recent breakout artist, Jake Oni of Oni, also come together on the track “The Never.” Speaking of younger faces in metal, Sons of Texas’ Mark Morales features on “Blur.” All three tracks, again, are classic metal to be appreciated by fans of any age. This album isn’t completely void of risk-takers, though. “Reveal” sticks out, as it’s far more soulful and eased thanks to the addition of Philadelphia singer-songwriter Naeemah Z. Maddox.
Easily one of the best songs off Anesthetic is “Save Defiance.” Even amongst all these Gods, no one can hold a candle to Myles Kennedy. The Alter Bridge frontman bleeds his soul in every song he performs and “Save Defiance” is no exception. His unique voice coupled with Morton’s composition sets this as one of the highest points of this record.
Of course, the closing track, “The Truth Is Dead,” is destined to be a fan favorite thanks to the addition of Morton’s Lamb of God bandmate Randy Blythe and metal royalty Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy. White-Gluz’s siren vocals lull in the listener before Blythe’s growls tangle you up in a symphony of tragic poetry. Their commanding collaboration crescendos alongside Morton’s masterful guitar before delivering you to the record’s end.
It’s easy for an album with big features to become lazy in writing while relying on the names. It’s a relief and a pleasure to hear Anesthetic didn’t slack even for a second. There isn’t one bad song on this record. Morton did a fantastic job of creating tracks as grand as the artists working on them. This album is sure to be remembered fondly and praised by future generations as a culmination of true talent.