Lamb Of God Ease Up On Bush But Get Deep Musically On Sacrament

Guitarist Mark Morton says fans can expect band's most challenging material yet.

Two years ago, Virginia metal mavens Lamb of God released Ashes of the Wake, a furious and relentless musical onslaught that was just as scathing in its lyrical attack on the Bush administration. The group’s tight timetable (the album had to be written and completed within five months — a challenge for a major-label LP) left little time to look inward for lyrical inspiration, so instead, Lamb of God picked up the newspaper every day.

For Sacrament, the band’s forthcoming LP, Lamb of God were afforded much more time — and as a result, guitarist Mark Morton said the record’s lyrics are much more universal.

“The music’s influenced by what the five of us are listening to, what we’re writing about, the context in which we’re writing, our lives and our experiences,” he explained. “We made a deliberate effort not to be so politically motivated this time. We still care about and think about those things, but at this point, creatively, we wanted to step out of that for a moment, and address some other things. So the lyrics are more introspective and more personal, and I think just about anybody will relate to them. Not everybody pays attention to the war or politics.”

Having more time to work on the material also allowed the band more freedom to tinker with new ideas and sounds, and Morton said, “These new things we’re trying really worked out, and you’re going to hear it on the record.”

Lamb of God began recording Sacrament on April 3 in New York with producer Machine (Bloodsimple, White Zombie), who also helmed Ashes, and they’re currently back in their hometown of Richmond, finishing up vocals and guitars. Getting Machine back on board was crucial for the band, said Morton.

“The last record sounded so good, and we felt like we’d already made such a big improvement on that record, that we wanted to stick with him to see if we could get it even better the second time around,” he said. “The first time you do a record with someone, typically, you don’t even know them, and over the course of the recording you build a relationship. To turn your back on someone and start that process over with someone new just didn’t make sense. He was so invested in last record that we felt he had to be a part of this one, too.”

The band wrote 15 songs for the effort — which should be out by late August — and plan to record a dozen of those in all. None have official titles at the moment, but Morton said they’re some of the finest tunes they’ve ever written — thanks, in part, to the vocal output of frontman Randy Blythe. “I’ve heard some of his strongest performances coming out,” the guitarist said. “He’s getting stronger and stronger with his ability to control that insane voice that he has.

“There’s nothing out-of-character on this record,” Morton continued. “Some of these songs are more ambitious, in terms of their arrangement and instrumentation. It’s also some of the most difficult stuff we’ve ever played.”

Lamb of God will be previewing at least three of these new Sacrament tracks during this summer’s Unholy Alliance Tour (see “Dates Unveiled For Slayer’s Unholy Alliance With Mastodon, Lamb Of God” ), which kicks off June 6 in San Diego.

“It’s the heaviest tour going out this summer, which is why we’re so excited about doing it,” Morton said. “We turned down some pretty big shows to do this, because we felt this was the better bill. We had a lot of offers on the table, but this, to us, was … I mean, how can you turn this down? This is just the show I’d want to go see.”