Lamb of God is undoubtedly the most legitimate heir to the eviscerating legacy of Pantera. On Sacrament, the Richmond, Virginia-based quintet pushes its blistering brand of foot-to-the-throat metal into new territory while staying true to the chokehold intensity that earned it a rabid and devoted following early on. Hurtling forward with the mass and velocity of a souped-up, bloodthirsty Zamboni, the outfit shows no mercy as it explores darker and more personal themes than it has dealt with in the past. Tracks such as "Walk With Me in Hell" and "Blacken the Cursed Sun" fearlessly tackle issues like addiction and depression without succumbing to nü-metal whininess, while "Redneck" and "More Time to Kill" confront cowardice and conformity. The album took over a year to make, and the painstaking effort is obvious -- from Chris Adler's inhuman drumming to Randy Blythe's throat-searing delivery. Extreme, relentless and tortured, Sacrament shows just how visceral and intense metal can still be in the right hands.