Casey Lynch (writer),
Rebecca Swanner (writer),
David Yellen (photographer),
Josh Robertson (writer),
Jonah Bayer (writer),
Travis Shinn (photographer),
Jon Wiederhorn (writer),
Wes Frazer (photographer),
Jason Bergman (photographer),
Paul Harries (Courtesy WBR) (photographer),
Birte Filmer (photographer)
When Richmond, VA, post-thrash quintet Lamb of God started writing songs for their new album, Wrath (which debuted at number two on the Billboard album chart), they had just one major goal: to shave away some of the production frills that graced 2006’s slick yet still storming Sacrament in order to recapture the unrefined aggression that originally drove the band.
“We wanted to make a very heavy record that would drop everyone’s jaw, and we were totally united on that,” explains guitarist Mark Morton, the only tattoo-free band member.
Mission accomplished. In a sonic climate that values melodic choruses and breakdowns, Wrath is a primal and bludgeoning blow to the solar plexus. Songs like “Set to Fail” and “Fake Messiah” feature gnashing rhythms, squealing guitars, and roaring vocals, while slower tracks such as “Contractor,” with its stomping chant-along refrain of “Guaran-fuckin-teed, someone will bleed,” impacts like a fist through a plate glass window.
“What’s interesting is that the aggression this time didn’t come from disagreements or throwing bottles and pretty healthy and fun.”
That wasn’t always the case. Over their 19 years together, the members of Lamb of God have had their differences and come to blows on numerous occasions—the most public of which, a skirmish between vocalist Randy Blythe and Mor- ton, was captured on the 2005 DVD Killadelphia. Much of Blythe’s past belligerence stemmed from excessive drinking. Take the Sacrament sessions. “Dude, Randy was a mess,” drummer Chris Adler says. “He was late to the project, we had to hold his hand the whole time, and he didn’t fucking care. But for Wrath, Randy was in a much better place and more respectful of the whole process.”
While the music of Lamb of God has always been hostile, the members are much more lighthearted when they’re off the clock, as evidenced by some of the ink they’ve accrued over time. Guitarist Willie Adler has a plate of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cornbread on a red checkered tablecloth tattooed across his stomach. Even Chris Adler’s tattoos from macabre ink inflictor Paul Booth are far from horrific. “We’re doing an ongoing thing based around wind, water, and fire,” the drummer says. “Every time I sit down, he draws a new thing. My arm is covered now, but every time we get together there seems to be a little something more he wants to do.”
So what’s Morton’s excuse for bare skin? “I’ve got nothing against tattoos, and I have a gorgeous wife that has full sleeves,” he explains. “But if I think about every tattoo I ever thought about getting, I would have some pretty awful, awful tattoos.”