What to Do Tonight: Lamb of God

A day at the beach with Lamb of God
  • A day at the beach with Lamb of God

When and how did Lamb of God become a metal institution? They still seem like a new band, even though they’ve been around for more than 15 years. Their first album, a self-titled disc from when they were still called Burn the Priest, came out in 1999; New American Gospel, their debut under their current name, arrived a year later.

Since then, it’s been a ten-year rocket ride: multiple Ozzfest slots, support for Megadeth and Slayer, and a Grammy nomination for the song “Redneck” in 2007. They spent most of 2009 opening for Metallica, which singer Randy Blythe says was a bid for “prestige … [and] maybe we’ll pick up some fans, because a 50-year-old guy isn’t gonna be aware of the Lamb of God show at House of Blues. But he’ll check out a Metallica show.”

One Metallica gig was particularly special for Blythe: When the band played New York, he brought his mom. “She was right in between the barricade [and the stage], standing by our techs,” he recalls. “She’d never been to New York City, so I flew her and my wife up early, and she got to cruise around the city for a day or two. I’m probably never gonna play Madison Square Garden again, so I had to have Mom there.”

But bigger stages haven’t changed the band. “We do what we’re gonna do,” says Blythe. “Whether we’re playing with Eyehategod or Brutal Truth or playing with Metallica.” That relentless individualism has been a major factor in Lamb of God’s popularity. The group’s breakthrough albums, 2003’s As the Palaces Burn and 2004’s Ashes of the Wake, were stridently political. This earned them a diehard following and praise from critics, who always fall all over themselves to point out any sign of unexpected intelligence in metal.

But Lamb of God made a sharp left turn on 2006’s Sacrament. “I had been writing politically oriented stuff since the Burn the Priest days, because I come from a punk-rock background,” says Blythe. “Palaces and Ashes were fairly highly politicized records during the Bush regime, [but] there’s only so many ways you can say ‘fuck Bush.’ It’s beating a dead horse after a certain time. We tried to step away on Ashes, but it didn’t work. We were still too pissed off. But after we did that, we were like, All right, we need to try something different. We’re trying to write each record to be different. Why write the same record over and over?”

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