Lamb Of God: Jet Black New Year
Does anyone actually make New Year’s resolutions anymore? Too often, they’re meaningless sentiments expressed in a semi-drunken haze to kill time before the countdown begins. Virginian heavy metal superstars Lamb Of God do though; they’ve made their own promises to deliver better than ever in 2012. Not only is their blistering, Josh Wilbur-produced new album entitled Resolution hitting shelves in January, but according to drummer Chris Adler, they’ve resolved to ensure they reach greater heights.
“That was a long-fought battle within the band, what the album was going to be called,” the immediately friendly Adler explains, enjoying the last moments of serenity before the madness surrounding the new record begins. “It’s so hard, as you continue making albums to keep coming up with something that is better and somehow representative of the art in itself. For me, this was a way of putting a word, a vocabulary, on the pressure of the self-awareness that we had, that I had, coming into the album; that I had to really take my game to the next level. When I got home from the Wrath touring cycle in 2010, we were coming off of two years on the road, two years of crazy stadium shows and just a great spot to be in. But I felt like, to go forward, I really had to bone up, I had to learn something, start getting my body in shape. So I stopped drinking and smoking, and I started working out. I’m now running almost 50 miles a week. I lost 50 pounds, started taking lessons with a fusion player, which was totally the opposite of everything that I do, in the hopes of learning two different concepts and expanding on what I already know, to bring into the next record.
“To me it was kind of this resolution where I knew I had to improve myself, to be able to continue to contribute. I can’t rest on what I’ve done before; I can’t allow the band to be just a copycat of ourselves. It was time to wake up and as we get older, if we’re going to continue playing the game, we have to really take it seriously and really bone up, man. It might not be easy or pretty or fun, but you’ve got to put the work in. A lot of people think being in a band, especially a metal band is all about drinking, girls and drugs and all that, but to be relevant and, importantly, have a career you’ve really got to keep your shit in check.”
That’s what Lamb Of God aimed to do with the new platter, encapsulating all the elements that have made them one of metal’s biggest names, while also pushing once-accepted boundaries.
“The only goal that we had coming into this was to allow the record to be diverse,” Adler enthuses. “To not say this is going to be a super-fast record, a super rhythmic record, more melodic, different vocals, or we’re going to start singing or some shit like that. This was all about just, ‘Let’s bring in everything that we’ve tried to do before and somehow make it better than how we attempted it last time.’ It’s very difficult – after 16 years and seven albums, it becomes very fine-tuned. As a fan, I get jaded, I expect the band to do something and by the time they get to their seventh record I know what I’m going to get. It’s not that important anymore, and I’m not the fan that I was. I’m not at that point in my life. It’s been such a long time since that band has impacted me in the way that they did. Now, I’m in the middle of that predicament as an artist. So you have to find a way to make the product resemble everything you’ve done before, but also defeat everything you’ve done before. That gets harder as you go on. It’s not going to be easy to go past this, and that may sound defeatist, but I’m sure that everything’s going to be very difficult for us to surpass.”
As a hardened metal fan Adler is well aware that in most instances devotees often have a rigid attachment to a certain era of a band’s output. For instance, BLUNT can’t listen to another turgid new Queensrÿche album without longing for it to be on par with Operation: Mindcrime or Empire. When BLUNT presses him on this point, he agrees.
“Nobody ever says, ‘Oh yeah, I love that band, their seventh record is the best.’ They always want the first or second record. So we kept that in the back of our minds and knew that we had to really step it up, create a record that legitimately could be as important and as accepted as our first, second, third, whatever it may be record, to stay relevant in what we do. It’s not an old man’s game; we’re not getting any younger, so we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to step it up.
“I absolutely recognise that in all of the bands that I love. It’s a very hard thing to beat, because there’s a certain period of time where you are as a listener and the band is as a band, and you connect. It’s very easy for one of you, or both of you to change direction in how that goes. You can’t maintain that relationship in the way it was born forever, it’s impossible. But you can as an artist certainly realise the impact of those records; why they were important at the time and embrace those concepts going forward in that to understand where you were at the time, and how do you improve upon that? How do you take it to the next level and not just rest on that? Because I think a lot of bands get to a point where they have a hit, they have some success and then they just try to copy that over and over again. That is kind of the death of the art, where you begin to repeat yourself. As a fan of music, yeah, I’m very aware of that.
“All the bands I love, I romanticise their early work and hate on their later work. So I’m a huge critic of that and a huge critic of myself and my own band, in that we have to somehow figure out how to defeat that, so that our seventh record might be, legitimately, somebody’s favourite record from us. That’s no easy task, especially as you get older. With this record, we had a tremendous amount of material; more than we’ve ever had and we had to concentrate it down to a small amount. That was the first time we’ve ever had that problem; normally we’re struggling for enough material. Even though it’s possibly more diverse than any other record we’ve done, I think it contains all of the elements of what we’ve done before. In my opinion, our finest moments as a band are on this record.”
On the New Year’s front, as they hit the road in support of Resolution, Australian fans will be among the first to be bludgeoned by the Lamb Of God live machine. Last seen traversing about the arenas of our shores as main support for Metallica, the band will return for Soundwave 2012. Interestingly, they’re joined by numerous bands which came to prominence in the late ‘90s, when Lamb Of God’s caustic, groove-laden metal was anything but commercially viable, the then relatively new act instead playing the basement/tiny club/toilet circuit in the States.
“It’s funny, across the world we had these Big Four concerts, and I was looking through the Soundwave bill the other day; we’re so stoked to be a part of it again. But the Soundwave bill looks to me like you have the Big Four, and then Soundwave has the Medium
30,” he adds with a chuckle. “All of these amazingly talented bands that have impacted how we even became who we are. To even think about some of the bands that are playing before us is a humbling experience and we’re definitely looking forward to it. It’s going to be a blast.”
is out now on Roadrunner.