Yes, you heard well what i said: Burn The Priest!
The history of Lamb Of God begins nearly 20 years back in time. Somewhere in Richmond, Virginia, three good friends from the Virginia Commonwealth University came to the decision of forming a band. Chris Adler(drums), Mark Morton(guitars) and John Campbell(bass) initiated Burn The Priest in 1990 and still remain in the band until the present day. Unfortunately,every beginning has its difficulties. So happened with the band,for Mark Morton left very fast in order to complete his studies and BTP was left with only the rhythm section practicing and working hard nearly every day. Replacement was found quick and Abe Spear was the one to fill Morton’s shoes. For the next 5 years,the band lacked singer but this didn’t prevent them of releasing their self-titled first demo at first and two split albums with Angels Of Satan and ZED. Of course,the ones who work hard always achieve a higher level comparing to all others.
The same happened with BTP who were lucky,except capable,to find vocalist Randy Blythe after completing the first three demos in 1995. Two years later,Mark Morton returned to the band,having completed his studies and the cards were set to play the game. And the game was fulfilled with the release of the self-titled debut album,through Legion Records in 1999. An album that can make you feel so uncomfortable,so nervous,so eager to start throwing whatever you find in your way,in order to express your feelings while listening to it. It was produced by Today Is The Day guitar player Steve Austin,that’s why it sounds so unclean and pounding in many ways.
Austin also contributes,lending his duties on ”Ressurection #9”, while ”Bloodletting” remains until today the diehards’ favorite song,as they still crave for it in each show,sometimes fulfilling their dream,but most of the times not. Having completed the album, Abe Spear leaves the band and Chris Adler’s brother,Willie,becomes the second guitar player of the band.
A deal with Prosthetic Records was signed shortly after the release of ”Burn The Priest” but due to some problems that occured,the band decides to change the name into what we all have in the back of our mind many times a day:Lamb Of God!
The first Gospel of God.
After the change of name and record company,it was time for Lamb Of God to proceed to the next level. That would be the second album(and first as LOG),where some changes had to be made,as noone progresses if he stays the same. So thought the quintet and with the beginning of the new millenium,their first effort for Prosthetic Records was ready to hit the stores(and the listeners’ ears as well).
”New American Gospel” saw the band starting from where the ”Burn The Priest” record finished,but with some changes that were enough to start showing the band’s new identity. As Willie Adler had joined the band,he contributed his ideas close to Mark Morton’s and the lethal result is smashing riffs,that are far away from what they used to play before. Based more on the groove and choosing a more song-oriented way than the past,the Virginians produced with Steve Austin once again,an album which keeps the raw energy of their early years,but without being that annoying or claustrophobic. Initiative ”Black Label” remains until today the moment everyone awaits in a LOG show,as it is the classic last song where moshpits,fistbangings and other quiet actions(…)take place.
Along with it,thunders like ”Pariah”,”The Subtle Arts Of Murder and Persuasion” and ”Terror and Hubris in the House of Frank Polard”(where Steve Austin helps the band once again with his voice,making the result even creepier),stabilize the level of the album. ”We still love that album,though little did we know of what we were really doing back then” stated Chris Adler. Extensive touring took place for the next two years and the band was once again in their base,ready to create another masterpiece. More were yet to come,but even the most optimistic fan couldn’t ask for more.
The next big thing that set the stage of what came afterwords.
In my opinion,the second album of Lamb Of God was the critical part in the band’s history,it was the fuel that the machine lacked,so it could start harvesting everything close and around it. In a time where many bands started achieving success playing that new style,and magazines would put all these under labels such as ”metalcore” or NWOAHM(New Wave of American Heavy Metal),Lamb Of God had to show that were far apart of all these.
And not only did they achieve this,but they also did it in the most definitive way,proving(though this was not their intention)that they stand on the highest level of the new American scene,watching all the others trying(with doubtful resaults most of the times)to reach their uniqueness. With Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad in the production chair, May 2003 saw the release of the groundbreaking ”As The Palaces Burn” and nothing was the same anymore,for the band,for the fans,for the scene,for the whole world generally. Townsend’s excellent production cleansed the ”dirty” parts they had before in their music,focusing on the riffs more and more and the overall result is stunning.
Of course,without bullets,no war can be won. But this album was full of secret weapons. To start with,let’s just mention ”Ruin”,the initial track,where thrashier than ever before,LOG starts to show that more are on the way to pay attention to. Supported by blasters like the title track, ”A Devil in God’s Country”(with Townsend contributing) and showing a more melodic side of the band on ”Vigil” or ”11th Hour”(with ex-Megadeth guitar player Chris Poland lending his help in maybe the best song the band has ever written). Former producer Steve Austin couldn’t be missing and lends his voice on ”Purified”.
The album is voted as Best Album of the Year in Metal Hammer and Revolver Magazine and shortly after its release is followed by the band’s first dvd,entitled ”Terror and Hubris”,where the energy of the quintet is captured live. The game was triumphantly won. The world was theirs already,but they didn’t stop,more hard work was on the way,with direct steps and open minds,making things a lot easier.
Who told you that multinational company means compromise ?
Epic Records was the lucky one to earn the band’s signature for a new contract among many others. The tremendous success of the previous album and the overall frenzy to fans of the rising force that started conquering the world,showed profits for each inerested and Epic was stalking to obtain the next big thing. The band of course little did they care,they did their part as they had learned all these years.
15 months after ”As the Palaces Burn”, the next assault was ready. ”Ashes of the Wake” hit the stores in August of 2004 and even the ones not knowing the band so far,were unable to resist this time. How couldn’t this happen of course? New changes in the musical direction of the band,holding the basic elements but becoming more traditional heavy metallers than ever before,more thrashy sound,with the guitars looking close to Slayer apart with the Pantera feeling of the past.
Also, new producer was to help the band’s vision of world domination,called simply Machine. ”Ashes of the Wake” remains the album with the most direct sound to date,also including the numerous hits in their history. ”Laid to Rest” must be the most recognisable song in their career,but does not stand on its own. Whichever one is refered would be the same,however,how can’t we state that ”Now You’ve Got Something To Die For”(which won an award for Best Video as well)is a mosh creator? As far as ”Omerta” is concerned,the band proves that you needn’t be fast with blastbeats to write a great song. Finally,”The Faded Line” contains the best drumming by the best drummer in the world nowadays,Chris Adler. Just listen to it to see how much he evolves-as does the rest of the band of course-in each record,more and more.
Also, band idols such as Alex Scolnick from Testament and Chris Poland once again,produce the solo orgy on the album’s title track. Sales increased rapidly and as a result,LOG were the headliners in the second stage of Ozzfest 2004 and on the Sounds of the Underground Tour in 2005,supported by Opeth,Clutch and Chimaira. The album was voted second best after Mastodon’s ”Leviathan”(…). Following the album’s release was the ”Killadelphia” dvd,excellent setlist,the band at its best and its most personal(the fight between drunk Randy Blythe getting viciously punched by Mark Morton will remain forever in history). Not bad for a band from Richmond,Virginia who just signed to a big record company,is it?
It is for certain: they are simply the best!
World Domination was complete finally. Even the most doubtful ones praised the battering ram,which left mouths open and jaws grounded. The year is 2006 and the next step is carefully studied. There is simply nothing left for the band to prove,this means maybe less stress,but definitely more confidence. So,imagine a team of 5 individuals who know what they want and how they are going to get it. Is there a single possibility that something goes wrong? NOT AT ALL! Not with these guys at least… Exactly 2 years later,the fourth and most promising album is unleashed and officialy marks the hope for a better future in metal scene generally. ”Sacrament” debuts at number 8 at Billboard 200.
Sales almost double the ones of ”Ashes of the Wake” easily and everything goes as the band wants. LOG pulls the strings of the music industry,without obeying to rules,just by playing today’s metal with no need of showing off. The best album of the band until then,being a mix of all they had done but more focused and even more direct and catchier(but not commercially cheesy). To most fans,”Redneck” is the top of the tops. Even with many people saying that it sounds a lot like Pantera,LOG had more weapons in advance to persuade the unbelievers again. ”Walk With me in Hell”,”Again we Rise”,”Pathetic”,”Blacken the Cursed Sun”…should i write more? I don’t think so… Becoming a part of the ”Unholy Alliance Tour” along with Slayer,Mastodon,Children of Bodom and Thine Eyes Bleed,they tour extensively proving their worth once again.
They don’t relax at all and they also support Megadeth on the Gigantour main stage,they also appear on the Download festival(a triumphant show)and they co-headline with Killswitch Engage,having Soilwork and Devil Driver as support. ”Redneck” loses Best Metal Performance Award from Slayer’s ”Eyes of the Insane”,but ”Sacrament” gets voted once again Album of the Year in Revolver Magazine.
Hard work proves redeeming as i stated before,this happened with Lamb Of God also. After all of these,one could easily ask:What is left for this band to achieve? Easy answer. Nothing of course. But that doesn’t mean that they should stand and wait wthat’s to come. A dvd entitled ”Walk With me in Hell” set the stage and made fans more eager for the next record. ”What will it sound like?”, ”Is there going to be a new hit like ”Redneck”?… And many more questions were raised to fans’ minds…
Beware the wrath of God…
2 months ago,in February 2009,Lamb Of God released their fifth album,entitled ”Wrath”. It is a good chance to analyze it a while… After all,it doesn’t have to take numerous years to understand what’s going on with it. It is so simple,we have to deal with the most mature and most Lamb Of God album of all in the band’s history. Imagine a result like ”Sacrament”, but angrier, thrashier, more evolving and more technical and complex in many parts. Produced by newcomer Josh Wilbur,the album debuted in number 2 in Billboard 200,exceeding the sales of ”Sacrament” the first weeks after its release(talking about the first weeks of course) and lines like ”the best Lamb Of God album to date” have already started spreading across the world. ”In Your Words”, the album’s opener after short intro ”The Passing”, shows the purpose the band had:creating an album that combines all the basic incidents they always had, while an effort of going a while back to the roots was fulfilled.
Followed by first single and video ”Set to Fail” and the sonic orgasm called ”Contractor”,”Wrath” catches you by the neck only in its first moments and doesn’t live you at all,even after ”Reclamation”(with its bizzare beginning)is finished. There is no chance that you won’t push the repeat button in order to understand what exactly hit you and left you down to the ground,wondering why did this happen. Yes,there is no ”Redneck” or ”Laid to Rest” here,it is not as catchy as ”Ashes of the Wake” or ”Sacrament”,but it is more focused,more honest,less commercial,more promising and i think it will be the basis for the future releases of the band. The production is simply unbelievable and Randy Blythe,is more of a singer than a growler than ever before,in his best and most mature performance. LOG will hit the road as headliners,supported by As I Lay Dying and Children of Bodom,while God Forbid and Municipal Waste will also accompany them. We must not forget that they supported the band of bands,Metallica,in late December.
Time will put its mark on ”Wrath” as it does with all the things in life. Despite that fact,we needn’t ignore that Lamb Of God is not only the future of metal but it is something that we live on our own. We can just take advantage of it and enjoy as much as we can the best band in the whole world today.Because Lamb Of God is Today itself. And to be honest,i think that most of us have barely understood what is really going with these guys. I am sure that they just started feeling more sure about themselves than in the past. ”Wrath” is by far one of the best albums of this decade,don’t ignore it for your own good. The best are yet to come,the only think we can do is just enjoy and be astonished many many many times.
Thank God for his Lamb…
Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.