The roots of Lamb of God were planted in 1990 when Mark Morton, Chris Adler and John Campbell were floor mates at Virginia Commonwealth University. The trio began playing at Adler's house in Richmond weathering chilly conditions. "There was no heat at the house," recalls Campbell. "We would freeze our asses off, get really drunk and hang around the kerosene heaters trying to write metal songs. Kerosene fumes and Black Label beer were definitely what fueled our early days."
After graduation, Morton moved to Chicago to pursue a master's degree, but the band continued. A new guitarist, Abe Spear, replaced Morton as the band retired its instrumental sound and added Blythe on vocals.
The quartet, known then as Burn the Priest, became a fixture in the tightly-knit Richmond music scene. To compete with the high-level of musicianship displayed by their contemporaries, the band adopted a rigid practice schedule. "To this day, we practice five days a week out of necessity," says Campbell. "The bands in Richmond can flat outplay you and if you don't practice, they will blow you off the stage. Bands like Breadwinner and Slanglouse - two local math-metal bands - could play insanely complicated music note perfect. They inspired us to raise the bar musically and taught us the work ethic we needed to be a success."
The band was playing around Virginia when Morton moved back from Chicago and re-joined the group. Soon after, Burn the Priest released a self titled full length album on Legion Records. Abe left soon after, which opened a spot for guitarist, and brother to Chris - Willie Adler.
A year after the second Adler joined, Burn the Priest changed its name to Lamb of God and signed a record deal with Prosthetic Records. The band's independent-debut, New American Gospel, was released in 2000. "This album was all about creating a rhythmic and pummeling musical landscape with riff after riff," explains Morton.
Two years of extensive touring to support the album raised Lamb of God's profile before the band released the critically acclaimed, As The Palaces Burn (2003). ATPB won record of the year honors in such notable Magazines as Revolver and Metal Hammer while garnering mainstream press in Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly.
The band hit the road again and began headlining tours before signing with Epic Records. In the fall of 2003 Lamb of God was a co-headliner on the first ever MTV's Headbanger's Ball Tour which elevated Lamb of God's profile beyond the underground. As it entered the studio to record Ashes of the Wake, the band released Terror and Hubris, a DVD featuring live performances, videos for "Ruin" and "Black Label" and behind-the-scenes footage highlighting the work ethic, humility and sense of humor of one of the most respected and influential bands around today. The DVD proved to be a commercial success as it entered the Billboard Music DVD Charts at #32.
After writing and recording three independent releases at a deliberate pace, Lamb of God was shocked to finish its major-label debut, Ashes of the Wake, in just five months. The Virginia-based progressive metal quintet agrees this is its most natural sounding album.
"During the 10 years we've been playing together, this band has never stopped pushing the boundaries of what a metal band is supposed to sound like," says drummer Chris Adler. "With this record we allowed our instincts and experience to shape each song as a piece of the larger picture. We let the songs dictate their own direction instead of pushing individual agendas."
Lamb of God was not only a headlining act on the Second Stage at Ozzfest 2004 this summer but their first single, "Laid to Rest," from Ashes of the Wake also appears - in demo form - on the Ozzfest 2004 Sampler. The songwriting process for 'Laid to Rest,' illustrates Lamb of God's accelerated creative process for their new CD Ashes of the Wake. "This song came together so quickly it gave us chills," recalls Chris Adler. "Let me put it this way, it can take up to a year for the entire band to agree that a song is finished, but it only took two days for everyone to put their stamp of approval on 'Laid to Rest.' We couldn't believe it then, or now.
Lamb of God does not create the typical "heavy metal" verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo/outro type of music. The songs are diverse, progressive and intelligent. Songs like the instrumental "Ashes of the Wake" show how wide a net of influence and ability Lamb of God are able to cast. Keeping "a musician's band" aura and credibility and headlining countless sold out shows are two things that don't often run together. Lamb of God is an anomaly to the system.
"We play music that straddles the line between prog and traditional rock," explains Campbell. "I think we make prog-rock more listenable without cheapening the progressiveness of it. The complexity of our music appeals to people who like technical playing, but the arrangements are not so extreme that they fly over the average listener's head. It's a good balance."
The political angst that fueled the lyrics on As The Palaces Burn continues unabated on Ashes of the Wake. However, Blythe admits that his plans to write songs about personal responsibility quickly changed. "Mark and I write most of the lyrics together, and at the start of this album we agreed that we wanted to concentrate on internal instead of external politics," he explains. "But as we got into it, considering the condition of the world today, we felt obligated as responsible artists to give accurate social commentary, and that meant writing a few indictments against the powers that be."
Mixing a call to arms with a sneering disdain for the White House's current occupant balances Ashes of the Wake. "In the end, I think the album is stronger because we show the relation between internal and external politics instead of just focusing on one or the other," Blythe says. "These songs are a reality check for everyone because they rail against a wrong-headed government and against the apathetic people that ignore the government and allow it to exist."
Ashes of the Wake captures Lamb of God taking comfort in musical risks. "We'll always be a thrash metal band," explains Morton, "but I'm interested in exploring what we can get away with within the boundaries of the genre."