The first song on Lamb of God's first album, 2000's New American Gospel, has been their live closer for years. During their stint on Ozzfest 2004, the band spent the summer telling crowds to split, Braveheart-style, and smash into each other when the song kicked in. It's a mosh move dreaded by the wise, beloved by the insane, one that dates back to the early days of hardcore. In early 2005, shortly after the band's breakthrough album Ashes of the Wake, frontman Randall Blythe explained to Metal Underground that the band was no longer initiating the move.
"We were warning people, like, "Look, if you don't know what's about to happen, get out of the way.' Particularly, our guitar player, Mark (Morton), won't even watch if we do that. He turns around, because he can't stand to watch it. It makes him feel kind of ill. You know, a good, crazy, violent pit is a good time as long as it's a relief for everyone, but when people start breaking legs and stuff, it's no good. And I don't wanna be responsible for some kid gettin' paralyzed or losin' an eyeball or anything. So we've kind of laid off on that, but the kids call for it every day. They're doin' it on their own sometimes. It's like you're damned if you do, damned if you don't."
Drummer Chris Adler echoed the sentiment to On Track magazine in an interview that took place just months before a 26-year-old man in Germany died during a festival crowd Wall of Death. "It's not about people getting hurt," he said, "it's about people havin' fun and you're right, the audience is absolutely insane and we're not gonna throw out shoulder pads so nobody gets hurt." He went on:
"I get goosebumps when we take the stage sometimes and you can just see the eyes of these people lookin' at you, and they're all crazy. It's like somebody just released an entire prison yard to come to our show; it gets totally nuts. And I think as long as nobody gets hurt and everybody has a good time and they're able to let out a lot of the aggression and love doin' what they’re doin', then it’s more power to 'em and we're havin' a blast with it."
And then people just kept doing it, forever, and the band mostly stopped shying away from it, too.
Chris Adler is 42, Willie Adler's 39. Chris was a founding member in 1994; Willie joined up in 1999, when he was 23, right after the band's first record was completed. So not only do Lamb of God carry Pantera's groove-based Southern-fried metal torch sonically, but they've got the older bro drummer/younger bro shredder dynamic, as well. (Although unlike Pantera, LoG have a second guitarist, Mark Morton; more on him coming up.)
The final screams on "Walk With Me in Hell" were recorded after Randy ran around the block three times
Documentary footage released in tandem with the 2006 album Sacrament shows the producer, Machine, coercing frontman Randy Blythe to haul his cigarette-smoking ass around the block three times, full speed, and book it back up to the studio to record the finale to the album's now-iconic opening track. Machine was aiming for "a perfect breathless vocal"; he got it.
What started as a tiny, sketchy-seeming note on a Wikipedia page, Metal Assault confirmed in a 2012 interview. They asked if Campbell "invented a three-string bass" for himself. His response:
"'Invented' is probably a strong word for it. (laughs) What happened was, I had a guild pilot with my first bass, and the tuning peg that holds the lower string broke. I didn't have the money to go get a new one, so I just took the one that held the high string on it, to move that to the low string, and all of a sudden I had a three-string bass. Somehow I got notoriety out of it. It was really just because of being broke and needing a low string."
Upon entering the Czech Republic for a show in June of 2012, Blythe was arrested in relation to the death of a 19-year-old concert attendee two years prior. Blythe had pushed the man offstage during an out-of-control-to-the-point-of-unsafeness gig; he ended up in a coma and died weeks later of head injuries.
Blythe was held for 37 days in 2012 before being granted $400,000 bail nearly a week after posting it. He returned to Czech for a trial in early 2013 and was found not guilty of the involuntary manslaughter charges. The court placed the majority of the blame on unprofessional staff and an unsafe venue.
It's called Dark Days: A Memoir. It's 496 pages detailing the before, during, and after of the entire Czech situation and trial. (And, presumably, bits from Randy's life and some Lamb of God lore.) Salon and Rolling Stone both published lengthy excerpts ahead of its July 2014 publication. Dark Days made its way into Amazon's Top 500 the week of its release; you can order it here.
In early 2012, Randy wanted to run for president—or to satirize the entire idea of American politics—as announced by a Tumblr post titled "I want to be The Big Cheese." It clocked in at 1,900 words, which is as much as the lyrics to like eight Lamb of God songs. A follow-up post, "The buck stops HERE: Grinch economics & why Junior won’t be getting that PlayStation 3 after all," was 6,500 words, the equivalent of a super long magazine piece.
D. Randall Blythe's campaign slogan? "Fuck the dumb shit. Let's get real here."
He also plans to publish a novel and a photography book, per this revealing, gregarious Reddit Ask me Anything session from July 2015. "My next long form piece of published prose will more than likely be fiction," he wrote. "A novel. Ideas are percolating in the ramen noodle helmet now." Seems like a sure bet; as seen above, the dude's already done a talk and a signing at New York City's Strand Bookstore.
His Instagram is packed with vivid original photography, with posts often accompanied by long pieces of writing.
ALSO, he wrote music for a Virginia ballet titled Inventory. "Artistically," he told Rolling Stone, "I don't live in some heavy metal cave—most of my favorite frontmen all work in various disciplines—Nick Cave, Henry Rollins, David Yow; these are men whose musical work I admire and respect. These guys have made some of the most original and caustic tunes in the history of music, but they also have produced some really beautiful art and literature. Those are the types of artistic role models I look to for inspiration — they stay busy and work hard."
Here's a taste of Inventory and Blythe's music:
Lamb of God's new album is called VII: Sturm und Drang, but it's really the band's eighth full-length. Four out the five members were around for Burn the Priest's self-titled debut, and the stylistic gap between that one and New American Gospel—which came out a year later—isn't very wide. But, as bassist John Campbell describes in the interview below, "We changed our name originally because people thought that we were a Satanic metal band and kinda just wrote us off and wouldn't take us seriously." After the name change, Lamb of God was barred from venues for their original band name.
In 2012 he put out a tune called "To Make Sure," writing on Facebook, "heres a tune i worked on with some friends the other night....sumthin different....hope you enjoy." He shared it with a straightforward download link, very low-key, no cover art or announcement. Just a little ditty—with a completely different sound than Lamb of God. Acoustic, warm, tender vocals.
Mark Morton also has a side project with Dez Fafara of Devildriver and Coal Chamber. Here's one of those cuts: