Made of metal
Lamb of God carries the torch, but leaves the animal sacrifices to someone else
It might be a little disappointing for some to discover that the members of Lamb of God are just five normal dudes from Virginia. I mean, with a name like that, you’d hope they would be into some sort of sinister extra-curricular activity.
“It’s not like we’re killing dogs and drinking their blood,” joked guitarist Willie Adler by phone from Corpus Christi, Texas, where the band just kicked off a 50-date tour.
What? No blood drinking?
So, Adler wouldn’t throw a bone (or even a bloody scrap). Instead he described the band as down-to-earth fellas who enjoy playing the music they grew up listening to. Names like Metallica, Slayer and Pantera, which in one way or another have shoved metal into the faces of the mainstream consciousness for the past two decades, peppered the conversation.
But the impressively bearded members of Lamb of God—which includes Adler’s brother Chris on drums, bassist John Campbell, guitarist Mark Morton and vocalist Randy Blythe—are now finding themselves mentioned in the same breath as their heroes.
Lamb of God’s latest record, Sacrament, debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200, while the band also made a recent appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. And in a year when the Grammy suits finally got it right, Lamb of God was nominated for Best Metal Performance alongside Slayer, Ministry and Mastadon—with no Jethro Tull to piss on the parade.
Of course, all of the attention is meaningless to most metal bands (all of the members of Lamb of God attended the ceremony except Blythe, who staged a personal strike against the Grammys). Even the winners, Slayer, had mixed views, although guitarist Kerry King was the most outspoken: “[I] don’t even care,” King told Garage Radio Magazine‘s John Foxworthy. “Our fans don’t give a shit and that’s the most important thing to me.”
The members of Lamb of God, who got to tour with Slayer last year, were quite happy to relinquish the golden statue to their metal forefathers. In fact it gave them a little faith in the current state of metal, although Adler recognizes that it has become a bit over-saturated.
But Lamb of God’s journey to present success hasn’t happened overnight.
Morton, Campbell and Chris Adler met at Virginia Common-wealth in 1990 and began writing songs together as an instrumental three-piece called Burn the Priest. They spent the next decade playing in Richmond, Va.'s metal scene, eventually adding Blythe on vocals and Willie on guitar, before changing their name to the equally cheery Lamb of God.
The band released two albums on independent label Prosthetic Records (2000’s New American Gospel and As the Palaces Burn in 2003) and toured extensively for two years before making its major-label debut with 2004’s Ashes of the Wake. The band was catching metal fans’ attention for its knack for combining blinding metal riffage with punk-rock thrash.
“We’re real dudes playing metal, and kids can grasp onto that,” Willie Adler said.
The new album, Sacrament, continues LoG’s impressive math-y arrangements, rattling double-kick and vocals that sound like Blythe’s larynx could actually be lined with 12-grit sandpaper. Songs like “Walk With Me in Hell” and “Redneck” (which received the Grammy nomination) are prime examples of a band raised on early Metallica and the power-groove of Pantera at the height of its power.
Now LoG is hitting the road for three months on a tour that will take the band across the States and over to the Land of the Rising Sun. And while the band might not be bringing any sacrificial goats on the bus, Adler said there’s always the potential for a little blood loss on the road, referring to a whiskey-fueled fight between Blythe and Morton that was captured for posterity on the band’s 2005 DVD Killadelphia.
What a relief. A metal band that doesn’t drink blood is one thing, but no whiskey and fist fights? It would have been too much to bear.