WORDS: OLIVER LINDOP

Metal legends, Lamb of God should have been on a sell-out amphitheatre tour of the USA right now promoting their newly released self-titled album. However, with the world currently flipped upside down, we find our metal gods in a much different setting. On a tucked away plot of land outside Richmond, Virginia where the modern bustle of the world melts away, we spoke to the band’s founding member and lead guitarist, Mark Morton. Discussing how Lamb of God’s new album came to be, and what on earth is going to happen to the music industry.

There are times when something will come up and we will say Wow, that sounds very “Gospel”, that sounds very “Sacrament”. And we will think that’s cool because that’s in our DNA

When you’re a band who have been making music for a quarter of a century you’d think it would be challenging to create and reimagine songs without singing the same old tune, but that thought has never troubled Mark’s creative mind.”There are times when something will come up and we will say Wow, that sounds very “Gospel”, that sounds very “Sacrament”. And we will think that’s cool because that’s in our DNA. There have been a couple of times when a riff has been directly reminiscent; like wait, doesn’t that sound like “Set To Fail”. It does! We are allowed to rip ourselves off”

One of these exceptional records from the past we reminisced on was Ashes Of The Wake. A record with a huge impact on the scene which is still felt to this day. But Lamb Of God aren’t ones to live in the past, and are always looking to strive for self-development.“That album was 16 years ago. So where I was at as a songwriter, as a lyricist, as a guitar player, as a human being 16 years ago is not where I’m at now. So as an artist, I need to be genuine and honest with my work creatively. Trying to replicate that would feel odd to me”

With the new album taking on such hot button themes such as Climate change, world politics, and the opioid crisis, it’s a nice reminder that behind the goliath sound and image that this band fronts, there are honest humans who love their craft

With the band surfacing from the longest album-less gap in their history, the spark for new material was lit during sessions at Marks home studio (in-between touring with Slayer)…actually, that doesn’t belong in brackets. In-between touring with Slayer!!. But it sounds like the spark was always there.“The material that we were working on within those sessions, Willie and I had been compiling over the years since VII: Sturm Und Drang. We never really stopped writing, it’s just always a matter of time to get together and start going through the stuff and putting songs together.”

As we spoke more about these early album sessions Mark revealed the story behind the intro to their fiery first single “Checkmate”, where the listener gets a glimpse into the band’s studio antics.“What you’re hearing on checkmate is us recording one of those sessions in preproduction and what you’re hearing is the end of a conversation where I had just done a solo that I was particularly happy with. And Josh hadn’t saved it. But if I’m not mistaken, the actual solo that you’re hearing is the one I was asking him about. So there’s a real live feel and you’re hearing us kind of laughing and everyone being happy”. With the new album taking on such hot button themes such as Climate change, world politics, and the opioid crisis, it’s a nice reminder that behind the goliath sound and image that this band fronts, there are honest humans who love their craft. “It’s fun again, and everyone’s excited to be where we’re at. So I think all those elements make for a really energized album”

‘m not entirely convinced that being on tour or not being on tour has a direct correlation to who buys and doesn’t buy a new album

For the first time in 25 years, Lamb Of God has chosen to take on contemporary music’s greatest enigma, the self-titled album. With artists from Slipknot to Beyoncé taking this path, Lamb Of God stepped up to the plate to swing on this milestone. “It seemed very appropriate at this time you know. There have been times throughout an eight album career where we have considered that before, but it never felt right; this time it did. It fit where we are as a band, as a group collectively, it just made sense to us.People feel sort of isolated and out of their routine and I think music is a big part of that.”

Live music can be the greatest tool a band has for promoting their new music. Alas, with this side of the promotion cycle currently stopped will anyone even be interested in a new album? Mark has faith in the band’s die-hard fan base to stick by them; even without any current tours on the horizon. “I’m not entirely convinced that being on tour or not being on tour has a direct correlation to who buys and doesn’t buy a new album. I feel like nowadays people either go to a show or don’t and they either listen to that album or don’t.”

The future of live music currently hangs in the balance, and unfortunately, no one has a magic crystal ball to reassure us that we will be back moshing again by the end of the year. But if there is anything to give us hope it’s Marks comment on what Lamb of Gods first move will be after lockdown if lifted: “we’re dying to get on the road again, I’m really optimistic that that’s going to happen soon”

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