Lamb of God is an American groove metal band from Richmond, Virginia. Formed in 1994 (as Burn the Priest), the group consists of vocalist Randy Blythe, guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, bassist John Campbell, and drummer Chris Adler. The band is considered part of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement.
Since its formation, Lamb of God has released seven studio albums (including one released under "Burn the Priest"), one live album, one compilation album and three DVDs. The band's cumulative sales equal almost two million in the United States. In 2010 and 2011 the band received Grammy nominations for songs from their 2009 album Wrath. Lamb of God has toured with the Ozzfest twice and appeared on Slayer's The Unholy Alliance Tour in 2006. Other appearances include Download Festival and Sonisphere Festival in the UK, Soundwave Festival, Mayhem Festival 2010 and Gigantour. From 2008 to 2010 they toured as part of Metallica's World Magnetic Tour.
Formation and Burn the Priest (1994–1999)
In 1994, guitarist Mark Morton, drummer Chris Adler, bassist John Campbell and Matt Conner started a band named Burn the Priest. The band members knew each other from the college they were all attending, Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, Virginia. Morton and Conner left the band soon after its inception to pursue master's degrees. Adler and Campbell replaced Morton with Abe Spear. For the next five years, the band practiced in Richmond and around Virginia. In 1995, the band released its self-titled first demo. After the demo, Burn the Priest recorded two split EPs with Agents of Satan and ZED respectively. After the band's first three demos, Burn the Priest added vocalist Randall Blythe to its line up.
In 1997, Morton returned to the band. Two years later, the band released its first full-length self-titled album, Burn the Priest, through Legion Records. Mikey Bronsnan of Legion Records saved up $2,500 for the recording and then broke them in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania through DIY shows. The album was produced by Today Is the Day guitarist and vocalist Steve Austin. Spear left the band, leaving an open position for a guitarist. Willie Adler became the band's second guitarist a year later, and a deal with Prosthetic Records was signed. Contrary to rumour, the band did not change their name to Lamb of God after being banned from venues; these bans occurred afterwards. They changed their name because of the altered line-up, and to avoid being mistaken for a satanic metal band.
New American Gospel and As the Palaces Burn (2000–2003)
With a new name and label, the band released its second album, New American Gospel, in September 2000. Patrick Kennedy of Allmusic compared the band to Pantera stating, "The essential signatures of post-Pantera metal are in abundance on Lamb of God's inaugural album. New American Gospel provides a mighty oak upon which gritty American metal's faith is maintained, effectively bridging the '90s' insistence upon drill-sergeant technicality and the old school's determined focus on riff construction." Chris Adler commented: "This is a classic record. We had all the elements come together to make one of the heaviest, yet contagious records of our career. It was difficult to contain us—we didn't even understand at the time what we had created."
Lamb of God toured for two years before releasing their third studio album, As the Palaces Burn, on May 6, 2003. Kirk Miller of Rolling Stone gave the album three out of five stars, writing that "unlike many of their overreaching, Slipknot-influenced contemporaries, Lamb of God deliver a meticulously crafted metal assault." The album was voted the number one album of 2003 by both Revolver Magazine and Metal Hammer. The band was part of the first Headbangers Ball tour, where they recorded a DVD including live performances and a documentary, titled Terror and Hubris. The DVD was a success, debuting at number 31 on the Billboard Top Music Videos chart.
Ashes of the Wake (2004–2005)
Lamb of God released Ashes of the Wake in August 2004, which debuted at number 27 on the Billboard 200, and sold over 35,000 copies in its first week. The album was distributed through the band's new record label, Epic Records. Johnny Loftus of Allmusic praised the album, saying "With the genre getting clogged by PVC goofs and Alice in Chains impersonators, Lamb of God balances the equation of power, rage, tradition, and craft. It kills the filler." The title track of the album featured Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick and ex–Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland.
The band supported Ashes of the Wake with extensive touring, including a second stage slot on Ozzfest in 2004, and the 2005 Sounds of the Underground tour. The band was awarded 2nd Best Album of the Year by Revolver magazine behind Mastodon's Leviathan, and was awarded Best Music Video for "Laid to Rest" (2005). While on tour, the band recorded a performance and released it with the name of Killadelphia. The release was made available as a DVD and a CD. The DVD was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2007.
In 2006, a cover version of the first single from the album, "Laid to Rest", was featured as a playable track in Guitar Hero II. The original version was released for Guitar Hero Smash Hits in 2009. The original version is also available as downloadable content for Rock Band.
In August 2006 Lamb of God released its fifth studio album, Sacrament. The album debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 and sold nearly 65,000 copies in its first week of sales, nearly doubling the first week sales of Ashes of the Wake.
The album received generally positive reviews, with Cosmo Lee of Stylus Magazine stating, "Sacrament has the band's most memorable songs to date. Musically, there's no fat. The band plays with laser precision and songs move smoothly through riffs and transitions." Ed Thompson of IGN referred to Sacrament "one of the best metal albums of 2006", and Jon Pareles of Blender called it a "speed rush all the way through".
The band appeared on major tours to support the album, including The Unholy Alliance with Slayer, Mastodon, Children of Bodom, and Thine Eyes Bleed, Gigantour, supporting Megadeth; main stage at Ozzfest; an appearance at the Download Festival, and an exclusive co-headlining tour with Killswitch Engage, Soilwork, and DevilDriver, where Killswitch Engage and Lamb of God shared headlining spots alternately each show. Lamb of God was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 2007 Grammy Awards for "Redneck", but lost out to Slayer's "Eyes of the Insane".
In December 2007, the band re-released the album as Sacrament: Deluxe Producer Edition. The release contained all of the original songs from Sacrament on the first disc, and the second disc was a CD-ROM featuring all of the vocal, bass, guitar, and drum tracks in 192kbit/s MP3 format, enabling the buyer to produce their own interpretation of the songs. Blythe stated, "you sometimes have to do something special to get kids to even buy an album these days rather than download it." The band took a break to write new material throughout 2008 and prepare a new record for release, slated for 2009. The band negotiated for a new record label to distribute records outside the United States. Chris Adler stated Epic Records in the United States "couldn't be more perfect", but wants a different label for international releases.
Walk with Me in Hell and Wrath (2008–2009)
On May 2, Lamb of God announced via MySpace their new DVD, Walk with Me in Hell, would be released on July 1, 2008. The DVD is a double-disc and has nearly five hours of footage, containing the feature documentary Walk with Me in Hell and multiple live performance extras from the Sacrament World Tour. At the end of the Walk with Me in Hell documentary the members stated that they are more excited than ever to write new material.
In August, 2008, it was announced, by studio producer Cole Higley, that the band had commenced work on the follow-up to Sacrament, and that its release was scheduled for February, 2009. Josh Wilbur was also named as the producer for the record. They also toured with Metallica as a direct support act starting in December 2008.
The recording process of the new record was made available to view online live through the band's website, with two webcams installed in the studio (specifically in the drum room and mixing room).
On February 23, 2009, the band released their sixth studio album internationally via Roadrunner Records, titled Wrath and one day later in America via Epic Records. The album is dedicated to Mikey Bronsnan, who helped them get started in Philadelphia, PA. In November 2008, Bronsnan was killed by a drunk driver. According to drummer Chris Adler, "Without Mikey, we'd very well might not be a band today." Drummer Chris Adler was quoted saying "This album is going to surprise a lot of people. Typically bands that get to where we are in our career begin to slack off, smell the roses and regurgitate. We chose a different path. No one wants to hear another band member hyping a new record. ‘Wrath’ needs no hype. We have topped ourselves and on February 24 you will feel it." "Wrath" debuted on the Billboard 200 at number two, selling over 68,000 copies in its first week.
In support of Wrath, the band in spring of 2009 embarked on the first leg of their world tour, No Fear Energy Tour headlined by themselves with main support from Children of Bodom and As I Lay Dying, and rotating opening slots with God Forbid and Municipal Waste. The band played in Europe in the summer to perform with Metallica on the World Magnetic Tour along with Mastodon, while also playing headlining shows of their own and performing at major European festivals. For the final six dates of the tour, Unearth's Buz McGrath filled in for Mark Morton, as he left early to be with his wife and his first child.
Lamb of God has been announced to also serve as Metallica's direct support for the North American leg of their 2009 world tour, as well as finishing the year off by headlining shows in Australia and New Zealand with Shadows Fall and DevilDriver.
Resolution and Blythe's arrest (2010–2013)
Lamb of God performed for the first time in the Philippines for the annual PULP Summer Slam on April 17, 2010 with thrash metal band Testament and performed there again on February 18, 2012. The band also played in India for the first time on May 15, 2010, headlining the Summer Storm festival in Bangalore. They played for their Turkish fans at Kucukciftlik Park, Istanbul, on May 17. Lamb of God was featured on the 2010 Mayhem Festival, playing on the main stage alongside Korn, Rob Zombie, and Five Finger Death Punch. Paul Waggoner, guitarist for Between the Buried and Me, filled in for Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton during the Mayhem Festival. In June, 2010, the band played on the main stage at the Download Festival. It was their third appearance at Download Festival.
On April 19, 2010, IGN released a 'making of' video that features Lamb of God working on their next single, "Hit the Wall". The single is featured in the Iron Man 2 video game. On February 15, 2011, Lamb of God announced that "Hit the Wall" would be available to buy via digital download. The band was also featured on the soundtrack for Namco Bandai Games' 2010 remake of Splatterhouse. Lamb of God was announced as one of the bands (the other being Baroness) to support Metallica on their Australian tour in late 2010. In a September 2010 interview, drummer Chris Adler mentioned that Lamb of God will enter the studio in February 2011 to begin work on a seventh album. In November, Chris also mentioned that the band will work with producer Josh Wilbur again.
Lamb of God was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 for Best Metal Performance, but lost out to Judas Priest's "Dissident Aggressor". The band was once again nominated in 2011, at the 53rd Grammy Awards, but lost, this time to Iron Maiden's "El Dorado".
On October 31, 2011, it was announced that the band is set to release their seventh studio album, Resolution, on January 24, 2012. The band also revealed the album's tracklist and cover art. On January 19, 2012, Lamb of God released a second music video for the single 'Ghost Walking', the first video being the lyric video. The video, which is completely animated, depicts a man fleeing from assassins in order to enter the abort codes for a large unidentified weapon. All the animation was completed by Moreframes Animation, and it was premiered on the music channel Vevo and YouTube.
In February 2012 Lamb of God played the Soundwave Festival in Australia and the Download Festival on the main stage in June.
On June 27, 2012 the Czech police arrested Randy Blythe for his actions during a 2010 concert in Prague. Blythe was charged, in the Prague 8 district court, with committing intentional bodily harm after an incident in which a 19 year old fan climbed up onto the stage with him. The teen hit his head on the floor when he fell and later died of the injury. Lamb of God canceled their upcoming tour but resumed touring 38 days later when Blythe was released on bail. Blythe was indicted on the charges in December 2012. According to a verdict delivered by the Municipal Court in Prague on March 5, 2013, Blythe had thrown Nosek off the stage and had moral responsibility for the fan's death but he was not criminally liable. The decision was appealed, and upheld by the Prague High Court in June 2013.
Despite statements from bandmembers, that Lamb of God plans to enter the studio in 2014 to begin recording their eighth studio album, hoping to complete it by the end of the same year, Chris Adler said in a new interview with The Virginian-Pilot that besides the large amount legal fees the band encountered from Randy Blythe's trial, the band's inactivity during the trial meant no new income coming in, which eventually depleted the band's funds.
On 26 January 2014 Randy Blythe posted a picture and a statement on his Instagram saying he will take a long break from Lamb of God. The band, after this album cycle and apart from several festival appearances, will be on hiatus.
As The Palaces Burn Documentary
In February 2014, a documentary film featuring Lamb of God entitled "As The Palaces Burn" was released world-wide. The documentary, directed by Don Argott, began filming in 2012 and was set to focus on fans of the band but drastically altered its scope following the arrest of lead singer Randy Blythe on charges of committing intentional bodily harm stemming from the death of a fan following a concert in Prague two years earlier. The film has been met with positive reviews by critics.
Although Lamb Of God's genre is commonly disputed by fans and critics alike, they are mainly considered groove metal. John Campbell, on the Walk With Me in Hell DVD, says that Lamb of God is "a punk band that plays heavy metal", while Chris Adler refers to Sacrament as a speed metal album. Burn the Priest and early Lamb of God has been defined as thrash metal, death metal and hardcore punk or grindcore.
The band also incorporates thrash metal elements, which was shown as a direction on Resolution and Wrath. The band has been described by critics as metalcore. In a 2013 interview with Metal Trails John Campbell described Lamb of God's music as hyper-intelligent, good looking, heavy metal.
The lyrical themes of the band often have a double meaning. They frequently use biblical references, but often convey anti-religious sentiment, as in Sacrament's "Blacken the Cursed Sun." Many of their songs have political themes, especially in the albums As the Palaces Burn and Ashes of the Wake. The band also has many misanthropic or apocalyptic songs, such as "Reclamation." The song "Omerta" from the album Ashes of the Wake refers to Omertà, also known as the Italian Mafia law of silence. The Ashes of the Wake album featured many songs critical of the war in Iraq, such as "Hourglass" and the instrumental title track. Though an instrumental, this song makes use of two audio recordings of former staff sergeant and former Marine Jimmy Massey giving an interview about the war. Lyrical themes that the band frequently explores are hypocrisy and other faults in the personality, particularly on songs such as "Choke Sermon" and "Pathetic."
- Current members
- John Campbell – bass (1994–present)
- Chris Adler – drums (1994–present)
- Mark Morton – guitar (1997–present)
- Randy Blythe – vocals (1995–present)
- Willie Adler – guitar (1999–present)
- Former members
- Abe Spear – guitar (1994–1999)
- Studio albums
- Burn the Priest (1999)
- New American Gospel (2000)
- As the Palaces Burn (2003)
- Ashes of the Wake (2004)
- Sacrament (2006)
- Wrath (2009)
- Resolution (2012)
- Official website
- Media related to Lamb of God (band) at Wikimedia Commons
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Image from Discogs