Richmond, Virginia's Lamb of God is a refreshing anomaly in the world of mainstream metal. They love a swinging 6/8 beat more than a solid 4/4 thud, they feature a clean-shaven guy with short hair, and on Ashes of the Wake, their third album, they espouse a staunchly anti-Dubya, heartily patriotic worldview that values peace in the Middle East over boneheaded Second Amendment poppycock. Make no mistake: Ashes is unrelentingly brutal, a dense wall of unmitigated electric-guitar chug, tightly composed steel-wool lead lines, singer Randy Blythe's lamb-of-Satan growl and more double-bass percussive pounding than a room full of hippies in a ginsenged drum circle. But there's a searing, calculated intelligence to the mayhem here that's more often found in records by math-core brainiacs like the Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah; listen to the way the stutter-stepped riffing in "Omerta" gives way to a headbanging sludge-rock chorus. And though they're riddled with the usual heavy-metal array of "screws of vengeance" and "blank stares from broken men," Blythe's lyrics point their violence in useful directions: "Bombs to set the people free," he sneers in "Now You've Got Something to Die For," "blood to feed the dollar tree."