“We’re out here, we’re gonna wander, we’re gonna do stuff, we’re gonna… who knows what we’re gonna do.”
I heard Randy say this in an interview, and well, that’s the statement that summarized who they are for me.
There are metal bands and then there’s Lamb of God. This new breed of modern American metal was created back in the early 2000s.
Lamb of God’s inception began back in the winter of 1994, when guitarist Mark Morton, bassist John Campbell and drummer Chris Adler attended the same university in Richmond, Virginia. They began playing at Adler’s house in the chilly weather conditions of Richmond.
"There was no heat in the house," recalls Campbell. "We would hang around the kerosene heaters, get drunk and write metal songs. Fumes and Black Label beer were definitely what fuelled our early days."
The band, then known as Burn the Priest, became a fixture in the tightly-knit Richmond music scene. After the band's first three demos, Burn the Priest added legendary vocalist Randy Blythe to its line-up. And in 2000, after Willie Adler joined, the band changed their name to Lamb of God and signed a record deal with Prosthetic Records.
And contrary to popular belief, they didn’t change their name after being banned from venues, they did it because of the altered line-up. And well, to not be mistaken for another satanic metal band.
The band’s debut record, New American Gospel, was released in September of 2000. They created a pummelling, rhythmically crafted musical landscape packed to the brim with sick riffs.
Lamb of God went ahead and toured for the next two years, establishing themselves before releasing the critically acclaimed album, As The Palaces Burn. ATPB won record of the year awards in notable magazines and even garnered attention from the mainstream press.
Since then, the band is mainly considered a groove metal band. Sometimes, heavy metal, maybe death metal? Could be thrash metal. Perhaps speed metal. Or you know, alternative metal.
It was them who rewrote all the rules. They created and diversified a fresh playbook and raised the bar. Since then, metal as a genre has forever and irrefutably changed.
And mind you, the mid-2000’s era was packed with brilliant bands, but it was still Lamb of God that dominated them all. I think they were also labelled as the torchbearers. Cute! But it turns out, they were just scratching the surface of what they could achieve.
And this popularity is surprising because the music they make isn’t what we would consider “radio-friendly” it’s the exact opposite. It’s brutal, it’s loud, it’s obnoxious and some might call it unlistenable. But well, I find it extremely sedative, and that’s probably why you’re reading about it right now. It helps me get my mind focused you know? I’m blasting Again We Rise as I type this. It’s just perfect.
The band could get really anal and obsessive through its entire production process when it comes to music. Most groups have one or two members who lead the way and call the shots during writing and recording.
But in Lamb of God, Chris Adler, his younger brother Willie, Mark Morton, John Campbell, and Randy Blythe all contribute substantially to the writing process. Each one is more than willing to go through great lengths to get a song, a riff, or even a single note just right.
"Every chord and drum hit, it's like life and death," says the elder Adler.
To me, it sounds like they created an entirely new sound altogether. By fusing the brutality of Slayer with the inventiveness of Dimebag Darrell and twisting it into ingenious new shapes. And all of this promise comes together in Sacrament, an album that was so diversified and exploratory than its predecessors. With a collection of songs that all sound like instant bangers! Yeah, I do love that album a lot. Don’t get me started about their artwork.
The band's seeming self-assurance is what's most surprising to me. This is the sound of skilled artisans extending their creative muscles and realising they can lead the way for many to follow.
The good thing about them is that they don’t dwell on their past success. For Lamb of God, what happened in 2002 happened in 2002. It's about right now and what's next. After Sacrament, the band has since come out with 3 insane albums over the next 10 years.
All three albums blew up, and it feels like it was because of their ability to fuel the crowd. Their sixth album Resolution finds the band firing on all cylinders and doing things their way. That’s the key!
Since 2000, Lamb of God has emerged from their haven in the South as dominant, as potent, and as hungry as ever. And when I set my playlist on shuffle, I’m never really disappointed. I feel the music instantly trigger my rattle-head instincts.
Lamb of God has endured in a scene rife with "here today, gone tomorrow" bands because they are unafraid to stick to the path they set out on. They're not here to pick up a check or to write a "radio tune" at the request of a label executive.
Lamb of God is none of the above. The members are smarter, wiser, and responsible because they have families to support. Yet despite all those realities, making this music and making it their way is something that compels them, drives them, and sustains them.
“We don’t have a unified influence as a band. Because of that, our approach and our sound are slightly different from most bands. We fight and argue which makes it a more honest process.”
As bandmate Blythe said earlier, Lamb of God, as an entity, is like a living, breathing creature, not one that is plugged in.
And now to the bit that makes me a Lil sad. Chris Adler leaves Lamb of God in 2019 after 25 years! Chris Adler played the drums on Megadeth’s 15th studio album, Dystopia, the title track for which won a Grammy in 2017. Eventually, Chris left Lamb of God due to pressure to join Megadeth full-time. Adler parted ways with Lamb of God amicably and was replaced by Winds of Plague drummer, Art Cruz.
Lamb of God released their self-titled album in 2020 with their new line-up which was received with wide critical acclaim and sounds as slamming and heavy and as Lamb of God as any of the prior albums. The band then toured in support of the new album including a co-headlining US tour alongside Megadeth in 2021.
It’s a chill evening for Randy Blythe, the vocalist of Lamb of God. He gets a call from his home in Richmond and mentions how he plans on raking the pile of leaves in his yard. He’s also a champion and record holder in a chili cookout. Adler Jr. loves spending time with his wife and son, he enjoys starting projects around the house and headbangs every time he gets a nail in that wood. Mark Morton enjoys drag races. Hell yeah!
At least to me, it feels good to know that these guys got interests outside of Lamb of God which they tend to use as an escape when they aren’t thinking about the band. It just makes them much more relatable, apart from well, them being Lamb of God.
And it’s this kind of simplicity that makes them so loveable. They don’t fly around in helicopters and live these superficial lives. They’re simple, genuine people who manage to send shivers down the spines of everyone who listens to them.
They made the kind of music they did because that’s what they liked listening to, and nobody was really playing back then. And it’s probably why I instantly fell in love with it. The originality, the fierce dedication, and the love and understanding of the art itself are what make them so special to me. Go listen to 512!
All the fans everywhere, are the same. There’s a bunch of people with long hair and black t-shirts who like to get down to music, you know? And dude, lamb of God threw it right in our faces.