Of all of Lamb of God's albums, 2006's Sacrament was perhaps the least political.
Coming on the heels of 2004's anti-war opus Ashes of the Wake — a furious and relentless musical onslaught that was just as scathing in its lyrical attack on the Bush administration — Sacrament was a more personal offering, with frontman Randy Blythe deliberately steering clear of politically charged themes. But on the Virginia metallers' next one, Wrath, Lamb of God sort of return to form, setting their sights on the outgoing president, but using the experiences of others to make their point.
"It's not as soapbox-y, though, and not as rant-y about the government — it's more about personal experiences," guitarist Mark Morton told Metal File. "We've met a lot of people and fans who've served in these wars that are going on around the world, so it's a little more personal, tying the worldview into how it affects individuals. And then there's stuff that has nothing to do with CNN at all. There are songs on this record that talk about our experiences, and are aimed at certain people we've met along the way, who, through jealousy or whatever, found some reason to betray us or turn their back on us or try to stab us in the back. As you have success, people kind of turn against you sometimes, so there are a couple of songs directed at those people. Hopefully, they'll know who they are."
According to Morton, Lamb of God decided well before even writing a single note for Wrath — which has been set for a February 24 release — that they wanted to make a record that sounded nothing like Sacrament, and the guitarist feels they were able to do just that.
"We usually try to do something fresh every time," he said. "This one, I think, is deliberately a little more raw and more aggressive than Sacrament was. Sacrament was a really, really dynamic record on every level, and the songs were all over the place — it was also heavily produced. This one's really raw and real-sounding, from every angle, and we're celebrating imperfections on this record. We're choosing what takes stay on the record based more on their character and personality than how completely mechanically precise they are. It's more about vibe and attitude in the takes than it is about, 'Wow, that was perfect.' It's the perfect ones that get thrown away, because they're just too sterile."
For Wrath, LOG called upon longtime friend and associate Josh Wilbur to produce, opting not to rely on Machine (who'd produced Ashes and Sacrament) a third time. Morton admitted that Wilbur is something of a novice when it comes to major label productions, but feels it worked to the band's advantage.
"Josh is someone who has been in the camp for quite some time," Morton explained. "He worked heavily on Sacrament, engineering the drums and my guitars; he also mixed the live audio for [2008's] 'Walk With Me in Hell' DVD. He's not new to us — he's new to the producer's seat, and he's just done a great job. It was part of our strategy. Certainly, nothing was broke with Machine, who is a phenomenal producer and still a good friend — but this time around, from a purely artistic standpoint, to serve our purpose of trying to really do something a little different, I think it made the most sense to get another angle on the production aspect of it. Josh was the perfect fit, because he already knew us and was familiar with how we play and how we write music and how we record it."
Morton said the record will feature between 10 and 12 songs, and that the band plans on playing at least one new track this December, when it heads out with Metallica for a three-week run of West Coast and Canadian gigs. What should fans expect from the new material?
"The guitar tones are a little cleaner than normal," he said. "We're kind of getting into this mind-set that clean is heavy. Clarity is a lot heavier than oversaturated. It's just real raw and natural and organic-sounding, which, in itself, is kind of revolutionary these days, when kids are making pro audio-sounding recordings in their dorm rooms, on their laptops, and cutting and pasting verses and choruses. It's no longer cutting edge to make a completely space-aged, robotic-sounding record. I think it's almost fresh now to make one that sounds like an actual band played it. Don't get me wrong — it still sounds airtight and rehearsed, because it is all those things. But it's just real."
Morton said he's not sure how fans will respond to the stuff, because some of the band's fans aren't familiar with LOG's entire body of work.
"It's really going to depend on where they came in to the process," he said. "It seems like we gained a lot of fans on Sacrament, and I think those folks will maybe be taken aback a little bit by how aggressive this record is. The fans who came in a little earlier won't be as surprised by that, unless they're surprised that we've returned to that sort of approach. We're not denying Sacrament by any stretch of the imagination — it was just time for something different.
"There had been a lot of stuff we were trying to get out of our system on Ashes and Sacrament, and it took a couple of records to do that," Morton continued. "With that out of our system now, we seemed to just gravitate back towards the things that were the initial genesis of the band, which was really just that cathartic, sonic release. There's a lot of that going on on this record, for sure."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Earth Crisis has wrapped the recording of their Century Media Records debut. Guitarist Scott Crouse says the guys are "very excited for everyone to hear what we've come up with," and hints that, while it sounds cliché, "it truly could be the best Earth Crisis release to date! No really, I know every band says that when they finish something new, but ... really!" ...
Death-metal morticians Cannibal Corpse have dubbed their forthcoming LP Evisceration Plague. Set for a February 3 release, bassist Alex Webster claims that the band's goal "has always been to try and make each new album we record our heaviest," and he feels "we've been able to achieve this goal, and I think our fans will agree." Look for the set to include a dozen tracks, including "A Cauldron of Hate," "Carnivorous Swarm" and "Skewered From Ear to Eye." ...
United Nations have booked their first-ever live performance for January 20 at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C. The band will perform as part of the "Demand in DC: Applauding the Empowerment of People Thru Art/ Photo/ Film/ Music" event; Anti-Flag, the A.K.A.s, and Ruiner are also on the bill. ...
The Red Chord have decided to take a break from writing material for their next album to play a few shows with Overcast and Architects. You can catch them November 9 in Holyoke, Massachusetts; November 14 in Portland, Maine; and November 15 in Poughkeepsie, New York. ...
The Number Twelve Looks Like You christened their forthcoming LP Worse Than Alone; that record will be in stores February 10. They have also booked a bunch of shows with the Fall of Troy, Warship and Black Houses. That tour kicks off November 28 in Salt Lake City, and runs through December 14 in Tacoma, Washington.