2020 WAS POISED TO BE A BANNER YEAR FOR LAMB OF GOD. THE REIGNING THRASH ME TALKINGS— particularly true now that Slayer are no longer active — had put the finishing touches on their self-titled eighth studio album, the first to feature Art Cruz in place of longtime drummer Chris Adler, and had a rigorous touring schedule, including a still-scheduled mammoth trek alongside Megadeth, Trivium and In Flames. Guitarist Mark Morton had been busy for the past year or so with a pair of solo releases — last year’s Anesthetic full-length and a five-song, mostly acoustic EP titled Ether, released this past January — and tour dates in support of his solo endeavors. Then March came along, and the world came to a screeching halt — and that halt included the postponement of Lamb of God’s UK/European spring tour.
It also led to the postponement of the new album’s release date. Originally slated to drop in early May, Lamb of God is now set for a June 19 release.
“We appreciate your patience during these times,” the band said in an April 20 statement. “A global pandemic is not something people in the music industry usually take into account when scheduling album releases, but as you know, this thing has affected everyone across the board, and we are no exception... Wash your damn hands, let us know what you think of the new tunes, and see you on the road sometime!”
Luckily, the band has already released a handful of tunes from the new disc, and they hint at an album the Richmond, Virginia, five-piece can certainly be proud of. Lamb of God is a 10-song masterwork of infinitely precise and intricate riffage, crushing breakdowns, and production work that rivals any of the top albums in recent memory.
The Type O Negative-esque intro that leads into the opening track, “Memento Mori” — which racked up 3.6 million views on YouTube in its first five weeks — is about as subdued as this record gets. After that minute and 40 seconds, the pummeling begins and doesn’t let up until the closer, “On the Hook.” Songs like “Checkmate,” “Gears” and “New Colossal Hate” are relentless and dizzying yet crisp and clear, with sing-along hooks and choruses. It’s all uncomfortably comforting in a time of great discomfort — the product of a band clearly firing on all cylinders even after more than a quarter-century in existence.
“There’s a new, excited spirit in the band right now,” says Morton, “especially with Art and watching him really start to bloom within our organization. We felt that energy throughout the entire process.”
Willie Adler, Morton’s longtime guitar partner, concurs that Lamb of God is in a particularly good place right now. “For almost the first time ever, it feels like it’s all cohesive and we’re all on the same page — and none of us mind being in the same room with each other; in fact, we look forward to it now.”
Lamb of God have certainly seen their share of ups and downs in their 25-plus years in existence, and Morton and Adler were more than willing to share some examples during a recent chat with Guitar World.
It’s been five years since the release of your last full-length, VII: Sturm and Drang. How do you know when the time is right to start working on a new album?
MARK MORTON I think there are times that are both good and not-so-good to work on new material as a band. But I can’t say that those things are always the same, if that makes sense. With this album, in terms of the pre-production, we did it a little differently than we have in the past, mainly because of the touring we’d been doing. This time, Willie and I would block out a week at a time here and there in between tour legs to hop in the studio and just work on demos of ideas we’d had. We’d do that and then a few months later we’d find another week and go back and do the same thing — so it was a little more spread out this time, and I really liked that process because I felt like it gave us time to sit with some of the ideas and let them marinate a little bit. It was nice to sit with things a little bit longer rather than having to commit to something quickly.
WILLIE ADLER After the first one of those writing sessions, we went up to this really cool little studio in Maine called Halo, and we went over all of the material we had, and that gave us a sense of what we were looking at in terms of a new album — where we were heading with the material. Doing it that way allowed us to be a little more focused in terms of our writing once we were back home and working individually — like, okay, this is what we have and this is what we need, that kind of thing.
So as far as this record is concerned, I would say the body and soul of it started to take shape on one of those early sessions up in Maine.
Even though you each write individually, you have never taken songwriting credits on your songs. Are there songs in the catalog that you feel more ownership of compared to others?
ADLER Sure — internally we view it that way. When we’re playing or arranging or whatever, we know what might be a Mark song or a Willie song. But in terms of the grand perception, no, it’s just a Lamb of God song. And I would think that somebody who really listens to Lamb of God — and kind of has their pulse on how we write — would probably be able to pick out a Willie song or a Mark song.
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