Ghost Cult had the honor of chatting with Willie Adler of Lamb of God recently, to talk all about the brand new self-titled album, due out on June 19th, 2020. Willie was in high spirits as we broke down the new album together, covering topics from the bands’ approach to the new album, his writing partnership with Mark Morton, how many throwback grooves went into this album, D. Randall Blythe breaking new ground asa singer, the bands’ veteran status in the scene, working with guests such as Chuck Billy of Testament and Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed, Willie’s hand in helping create their non-alcoholic “Ghost Walker Beer”, thoughts on 30 years of LoG history, and much more. You can pre-order the album at this link and listen to our chat below. Continue reading
As the chaotic decade of the aughts was closing down, metal’s upper echelon of bands was never in better hands. Few bands embodied the changing of the guard like Richmond Virginia’s Lamb of God who ushered in the decade with New American Gospel (Prosthetic) after famously changing their name from Burn The Priest and really reset the bar of possibility for modern, popular metal bands. The upper tier of genre greats were struggling to find themselves, so along with other leaders of the era such as Mastodon, Gojira, Amon Amarth, and Machine Head, LoG spearheaded a new generation. The five albums (and one live album/DVD) the band put down in ten years really each marked their own distinct high point for the band. Wrath (Epic/Roadrunner) arrived with fanfare and expectations higher than ever. Three years after the slickly produced Sacrament, the band was craving the rawer, more direct approach of their earlier albums and went with producer Josh Wilbur at the helm. Of course, their musicianship was never higher and lyrically the album would touch on timeless themes of American politics, religion, fear-mongering, desperation, anger at systematic injustice, addiction, and self-analysis. Continue reading
Depending on where you mark the stages evolution of Lamb of God, it has been twenty years since they effectively began the concentrated march towards the Metal behemoth we know and love today. Most of you will know they were originally monikered Burn The Priest, and released an eponymous album in 1999 before revamping themselves as LoG around the time of the appointment of Willie Adler on guitar for 2000’s New American Gospel (Prosthetic) – the band’s only line-up change in their history.Continue reading
Lamb Of God introduced clean vocals to their sound on 2015’s VII: Sturm Und Drang, and we can “probably” expect more in the future. Continue reading
About halfway through Lamb of God’s magnificent new album, Sturm Und Drang (Epic/Nuclear Blast) vocalist Randy Blythe screams into the microphone: “How the FUCK did you think this would end?!” It’s both a question and a statement of defiance, summing up five years that have been nothing less than challenging for this band.
You’ve all read about Mr Blythe’s trials and tribulations; I won’t waste space going into them yet again but surely there must have been points when the band must have wondered how it all might end – fearing that they might never make any record ever again. That they have returned and delivered an album this ferocious, this energised, this brilliant, is utterly remarkable and testimony to a sense of collective tenacity and drive that can only be admired.
Suffice to say, there is an air of valediction surrounding Sturm Und Drang. They are right to feel valediction too: this is a quite brilliant record, their most ferocious since As The Palaces Burn (Prosthetic/Epic) and, in all probability, the best thing they have ever done. Scratch that: there’s no “probability” at all – it’s their best record. Period.
There are so many things to get excited about: the song-writing has never been stronger and the musicianship a veritable showcase of individual and collective talent. Whether you opt for Chris Adler’s drumming, Mark Morton and Willie Adler’s astonishing gifts for killer riffs, John Campbell’s hypnotic, rumbling basslines or Blythe’s vocals (is there anyone who sounds more metal than him? That’s correct, there isn’t) it scarcely matters: on this record, the band haven’t just upped their game, they have decided to change it altogether.
From the scabrous and infectious opening of ‘Still Echoes’ which erupts like a line of aural hand grenades in your head, it is clear that Lamb of God aren’t content with throwing down the gauntlet, they are throwing down every gauntlet ever made. It is an instant classic, a song to cheer to the rafters and to howl along with in the circle pits. It is breathless and brilliant.
And so it continues: ‘Erase This’ pummels you into submission, a neck cracking riff allied to a chant along chorus line are terrific ingredients to blend together and the sonic cocktail they have conjured here is deeply intoxicating. It’s hardly a surprise that Blythe references the challenging times he has been through. On the blistering and belligerent ‘512’ (the cell number that Blythe occupied during his incarceration in the Czech Republic) we are treated to a deeply personal insight into the vocalist’s sense of outrage at the injustice he suffered; you get the sense that Blythe is straining every sinew as he spits out the lyrics with venomous bile. It’s an extraordinary display backed by a relentless band performance.
Lamb of God are not a band you’d readily associate with ballads but on ‘Overlord’, a song that has echoes of Alice in Chains, we see Blythe turn in a clean, nuanced and, ultimately, powerfully affecting performance. The song’s ambition is more than matched by the band’s ability to execute and it positively radiates.
It’s not just the massive riffs or the killer tunes that you warm to on Sturm Und Drang, although they are here in abundance: ‘Anthropoid’ and ‘Footprints’ are two further effortless examples in how to write killer heavy metal songs. What equally impresses on this record is the creativity and detail that has been taken. For example, when Deftones’Chino Moreno makes a startling and very welcome appearance on the exquisite ‘Embers’ it sounds so right, so appropriate that you wonder why they hadn’t tried it before; similarly, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato adds scope, nuance and texture to the album closer, ‘Torches’.
Sturm Und Drang takes all the emotions, frustrations and challenges of the band’s last five years and distills them into an album of relentless, authentic brilliance. It is everything you hoped this band could produce and more. Sturm Und Drang is the most exciting heavy metal album of the year by a country mile.
All Heavy Metal records should sound this good.
Lamb Of God will be releasing their highly anticipated seventh full length album VII: Sturm Und Drang, worldwide this July via Epic Records in the US and Nuclear Blast internationally. Stream “Still Echoes” here.
VII: Sturm Und Drang is once again produced and mixed by Josh Wilbur with engineering by Wilbur, Nick Rowe, and Kyle McAulay, and was recorded at NRG Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA and Suburban Soul Studios in Torrance, CA.
Catch LAMB OF GOD on tour this summer with Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine and Motionless In White:
NORTH AMERICAN TOUR:
Lamb Of God W/ Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine & Motionless In White
Jul 24: Cruzan Amphitheatre – West Palm Beach, FL
Jul 25: MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre – Tampa, FL
Jul 26: Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood – Atlanta, GA
Jul 28: DTE Energy MusicTheatre – Detroit, MI
Jul 29: Darien Lake Performing Arts Center – Darien Center, NY
Jul 31: Saratoga Performing Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY
Aug 01: Nikon at Jones Beach Theater- Wantagh, NY
Aug 02: XFINITY Theatre – Hartford, CT
Aug 04: XFINITY Center – Boston, MA
Aug 05: PNC Bank Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ
Aug 06: First Niagara Pavilion – Pittsburgh, PA
Aug 08: Molson Canadian Amphitheatre – Toronto, ON
Aug 09: Parc Jean-Drapeau (Heavy Montreal) – Montreal, QC
Aug 11: Jiffy Lube Live – Washington, DC
Aug 12: Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach – Virginia Beach, VA
Aug 14: Klipsch Music Center – Indianapolis, IN
Aug 15: First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre – Chicago, IL
Aug 16: Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre – St. Louis, MO
Aug 19: Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Denver, CO
Aug 21: USANA Amphitheatre – Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 23: White River Amphitheater – Auburn, WA
Aug 24: Rogers Arena – Vancouver, BC
Aug 26: Concord Pavilion – Concord, CA
Aug 28: MGM Resort Festival Grounds – Las Vegas, NV
Aug 29: AK-Chin Pavilion – Phoenix, AZ
Aug 30: Isleta Amphitheater – Albuquerque, NM
Sep 02: Austin360 Amphitheater – Austin, TX
Sep 04: The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – Houston, TX
Sep 05: Gexa Energy Pavilion – Dallas, TX
Lamb Of God is:
Randy Blythe – vocals
Mark Morton – guitar
Willie Adler – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Chris Adler – drums
“Music is the only reason why I’m not prison (laughs) or dead, you know? I’m a dude who came from a little redneck town, and I didn’t fit in. It was horrible. Music definitely got me through it.” ~ D. Randall Blythe
In the opening minutes the documentary film As The Palaces Burn, Randy Blythe’s harmless musing about the course of his life was strangely prophetic. The music that got Randy through the toughest part of his young life and certainly brought him fame and glory as an adult, almost certainly cost him his freedom. Originally intended to be a look at Lamb of God fans around the world and their connection to the music, the band was turned upside-down by Randy’s June 2012 arrest and imprisonment in the Czech Republic, for the death of a fan in 2010 that the band was unaware of. As unlikely as this turn of events was for one of the biggest bands in metal, the film is an eye-opening account into the events that unfolded from the case, Randy’s personal struggles, the effect this had on the band both from the trial, and beyond.
Directed by Don Argott (Last Days Here) and produced by his 9.14 Pictures, the film first sees the band at the start of the Resolution (Epic) album cycle a touched on the last few years of the band, and the changes brought about by Randy’s (at the time) new-found sobriety. Although certainly not alone in the partying mode, Randy’s antics when drunk, seen many times in the past in the bands DVD’s, was singled out as a derisive force. On the flip side since undergoing a change in life due to sobriety, everyone one around the band marveled at the shift in his personality. Randy himself gave a confessional account of nearly having a nervous breakdown and not knowing how to deal with a sober life, until overtime he learned to cope and live his life freely. If the film stopped right there, it would still be a surprising, candid film, that few bands, metal or not, have ever made.
Early in the film the the focus was on Oscar from Columbia and Pratika from India, and the ways they connected to he bands music and a little look into the life of each fan at a LoG concert. Then the film shifts radically from Randy’s arrest at the airport in Prague, and his following imprisonment and eventual release. Band members like Mark Morton. Willie Adler, and Chris Adler talk at length about growing together, but often being at odds despite the common goals they share. Still, nothing will prepare you for seeing the band greet Randy at the the airport in Richmond, Virginia following his release from prison. It is a tear-inducing moment of anxiety and relief seen on screen by the band, and for the viewer. At the same time, some of the grief they share only intensifies throughout Randy’s voluntary return to Prague to stand trial for manslaughter. Through it all Randy was humble, and deeply stricken by the pain of the death of a fan of his, for the victim’s family, as well as himself, even though he was innocent. He still carries a heavy burden that has changed his life, even with the positive outcome of the trial.
The film’s access inside the proceedings and preparations with Blythe’s team of lawyers and the courtroom is a revealing look at legal systems abroad, and for those who deride the American system of justice, I’d say we have it pretty good here. Although Randy was exonerated of all the charges, the fact remains that Daniel Nosek, a 19-year-old fan of the band died following a Lamb of God show, and his family must cope with the loss somehow for the rest of their life. No matter how much you support the band, the film goes to great length to express the sorrow at the loss of life by this young man, and their hope is that Daniel is not forgotten through all of this.
Fans will come away from watching this film with a lot of mixed emotions about the band. To a man, the entire organization around LoG were all very supportive of their front man through his ordeal. However, the band is clearly far from close friends anymore. Certainly each member, and Randy, had to reconcile the possible loss of their careers and livelihood from the case had Randy been convicted and served any length of prison sentence. It is of note that while the film is clearly sympathetic to the plight of the singer and his band, it pulls no punches of the realty of a group of guys who have always have an uneasy alliance as friends, sober or not. Like most bands of their stature, there is a lot less of a brotherhood than the fans may want to believe. As LoG approaches middle age and veteran act status, they have grown up, and also grown apart with expanding families and other interests in their life trumping the chaos and mayhem of the killing road of metal music.
As The Palaces Burn is a film unlike any other, about a unique band who went through an experience that hopefully, never happens again. It’s a great film with some amazing cinematography and editing. Argott proves again to be a masterful story teller and the many emotional moments in the film are augmented by Mark Morton’s sparse score, full of his interesting guitar work. Those seeing the theatrical version will see a special Q & A the band did with Eddie Trunk about the film.
Keith (Keefy) Chachkes