by Ana Krunic
VANCOUVER – Growing up as a teenage metalhead in the mid 2000s, when Revolver was still taken seriously and bullet belts had a serious revival, Richmond, Virginia’s Lamb of God picked up the torch left behind by Pantera’s absence and carried it aloft with that cocky groove-tinged sound that grew up and out of the ‘90s, the new wave of American heavy metal. But before the pieces all fell into place to form Lamb of God, where it all started was with the rawer sounds of Burn the Priest – their first incarnation.
Nearly 20 years of commercial success later, they’ve decided to pay homage to their roots and rebirth Burn the Priest by putting out Legion: XX on May 18. The album covers songs that influenced them when they were sowing the seeds for what would eventually become Lamb of God.
“The first song that comes to mind is a song called ‘Axis Rot’ by a band called Sliang Laos,” says guitarist Mark Morton. “Pretty much no one that hears this project will be familiar with them because they were a local band around Richmond who were making waves in the local scene when we were first getting Burn the Priest together. They were one of my favourite bands, not just locally, but in general. So it felt really, really good as we were putting Legion: XX together to be able to include them in the track list and pay homage to some of our roots, bands that we aspired to be like back then in the local scene.”
“Another would be the Melvins song ‘Honey Bucket,’ because during that time frame in the ’90s, punk, hardcore, and metal were mingling and producing some really unique sounding bands,” Morton continues.
Burn the Priest as a band had a bit more of a punk feel to it compared to the direction Lamb of God ended up going in, which was down a more technical and refined path. Regardless of whether they were just working out the kinks within their first formation, Morton says it was never done with a clear intention.
“I think we were just developing as a band, honestly,” he says. “To this day the process is still the same. I never mean this to come across the wrong way, but we don’t write music for our fans. We don’t write any music in anticipation of what the fans might want to hear. We really construct our songs just to find common ground between the five of us, to find something that all five of us like and can stand behind. That, in and of itself, is quite a feat.”
Their upcoming tour finds them back on the road with the legendary Slayer, who they’ve toured with extensively. But this one’s bittersweet, as this is Slayer’s last run on the road (or so they say). With Slayer being one of metal’s founding fathers, it’s still a trip for even someone as renowned as Morton to be included in their farewell tour.
“It’s frankly an honour,” he says, “and more than anything, I’m flattered they would include us and give us that spot on their last tour. We’ve worked with them a lot and obviously they’ve been a huge influence on us. I mean, we’ve learned so much from watching how Slayer does things. Everyone in metal has.”
Lamb of God plays the Pacific Coliseum with Slayer, Anthrax, Behemoth and Testament on May 16.Anthrax, Behemoth, Lamb of God, Pacific Coliseum, Slayer, Testament