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Reflection of the times: Lamb of God’s album inspired by state of the world

Lamb of God releases its self-titled album on Friday, June 19. (Courtesy of Travis Shinn)

Releasing a self-titled album was a backup plan for metal band Lamb of God until now.

“I think it just seemed right this time,” said Mark Morton, Lamb of God guitarist. “In the past, it’s been considered, but it always felt like it was just kind of more of a fall back like it would have been a little bit of a cop-out to do that, and this time it was actually quite the opposite. There were ideas for album titles, and good ideas, but it just seemed like self-titled was really appropriate.”

The decision to not title the new album was a meaningful step.

“We felt like this was kind of a new era for the band,” Morton said. “I feel like we’re really in a new stage, new level, new phase of our career. We’ve been through a lot of challenges. We’ve been through, frankly, a lot of chaos at times, and we’ve kind come out on the other side with this … kind of confidence that we have now that we belong where we are and we’re in a really good place creatively. This is Lamb of God 2020. We still feel like we have a lot of ambition still. We have a lot of momentum. We still feel that we’re making relevant music, and we’re still excited about what we are doing creatively.”

It has been five years since Lamb of God released an album. Its new, self-titled album is being released Friday, June 19. The time between albums was primarily due to the band’s schedule supporting Slayer on its farewell tour.

“The writing process and preproduction process was done in between legs of that Slayer tour, so (rhythm guitarist) Willie (Adler), myself and (producer) Josh Wilbur would get into the studio and do demos of song ideas and then maybe be in the studio for a week, get four or five songs out of that, ideas, and then go back on the road with Slayer and come back and do it again,” Morton said.

The pause between albums turned out to be a welcome change for the band.

“I think a real asset, because it gave us time to sit with the material,” Morton said. “It gave us more time to sit with ideas, song structures, changes in the song, and just the way things fit together. We kind of became more familiar with the new material than we would have been had we just kind of jumped in and committed on a start-to-finish process.”

Songs on the album vary topically, but the lyrics are deliberately current.

“I think it addresses many of the issues of the day, kind of specific references to school shootings to climate change to kind of a broken political system,” Morton said. “Those things are pretty obvious in the lyrics. I think there are some personal songs, too, but I think it is a very contemporary, very current album in terms of the subject matter of the topic. It’s very kind of inspired by the things that we see around us, the things out there in the world.”

The band had planned to embark on European tour in the spring and the United States in the summer to promote the self-titled album. Both tours were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. tour included a stop in Albuquerque in July. But there are plans to reschedule dates. In the meantime, Morton and Adler most likely will be stockpiling new music ideas.

“When it comes time for us to start sifting through material as a band for new Lamb of God stuff, Willie and I will typically show up with piles of music for consideration, and we sort of pick out the high points of that stuff and a lot of times parts,” Morton said. “We’ll take a chorus from one demo and match it with a verse from another demo and adjust the tempos and make them fit and so we just kind of start Legoing these ideas together into rough song outlines.”

Once Morton and Adler feel they have a good song structure, they will take it to the band and start playing it live, in a room, as a band.

“That is one thing that we do that a lot of new metal bands don’t do,” Morton said. “We’ll actually play the songs in a room together and really kind of feel them out and see what they feel like in an organic, live sense, as we’re writing them.”

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