Lamb of God
“This is the new abnormal!” Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe screams on “Reality Bath,” a particularly ferocious track on the band’s long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s VII: Sturm und Drang. It’s a fitting sentiment for the Virginia metal squad’s first record without co-founder and drummer Chris Adler, who split in 2019. Propelled by the dexterous drumming of new member Arturo Cruz (Prong/Winds of Plague), venomous cuts like “Memento Mori,” “Checkmate,” and “New Colossal Hate” showcase the band’s groove metal mastery. “Art has brought a more youthful energy, which is something our old selves need, because I’m pushing 50 and I can get set in my curmudgeonly ways,” Blythe tells Apple Music. “But at the same time, there’s nothing at all new about the writing process. The same guys who always wrote the music wrote the music this time. So in a sense there’s absolutely nothing different.” Lyrically, Blythe spits sociopolitical epithets all over Lamb of God, even bringing in Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta and Testament’s Chuck Billy to join him on “Poison Dream” and “Routes,” respectively. “I wrote this record thinking about the mess that is modern-day life,” Blythe explains. “The information overload and the shallow pursuit of wealth and material goods as status symbols have led to an entirely false idea that having these things is going to bring you some sort of inner peace or well-being or happiness—and it's a load of bullshit.” Below, he unpacks some of the album’s key tracks.
Memento Mori “I wrote this song as a reminder for myself to not get stuck in this crazy morass of digital doom and gloom—all the biased news and social media stuff—and get out and really make the most of today. Because when I’m laying on my deathbed, if I have regrets, if I have things I wanted to do that I did not do, I don't want to sit there and be like, ‘God, I wish I hadn't spent so much time on Twitter. That sucks. I could have gone to Africa or the jungle. I could have written another book or something. But no, I spent eight hours a day on Twitter.’ Which I don’t do, by the way.”
Checkmate “This is about our subpar political system. The two-party system is just a nightmare, particularly given the divisiveness of— not just right now, but for years now. And it’s not just whoever’s in the Oval Office, but in Congress that really chaps my ass. When Congress manages to agree on something like a relief package to help people who are suffering right now economically in this pandemic, you’ll see news stories about how the bipartisan agreement is some huge victory—that two political parties agreed on something for the good of the American people. That shouldn’t be a special occasion for celebration. But it is now, because everybody politicizes everything. So the lyrics talk about how people are so entrenched ideologically now on one side or the other, but life is not that black and white. There’s shades of gray.”
Poison Dream (feat. Jamey Jasta) “I was looking up stuff about water pollution one day and I realized that every single place I’ve ever lived has had horrific water pollution. Everywhere we need water to survive, but people are poisoning it in the name of commerce. And these companies can do this because they're making so much money. It's not that the EPA is not finding them—some of these places just have enough money to pay the fines. So that’s where I’m coming from in the song. Not far from where Jamey lives, there’s a plant that dumps all this pollution in the water too. We were talking about that, and I’ve wanted him to be on a Lamb of God record for a long time—he’s a dear friend of the band, and I just love him as a person. I thought he’d be perfect for this song, and luckily he agreed to do it.”
Routes (feat. Chuck Billy) “I went to Standing Rock, North Dakota, during the NODAPL movement, which of course was held on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. It started with just a few women and children trying to protect their water source, and then soon people from other Indigenous nations joined them. I went there to support them and bring supplies. I was out there for about a week, and it was a very profound experience because of the way these people were being treated by both the government and the private security corporations that were hired to protect the interests of this freaking oil company. If that had happened anywhere in a city or even a suburb that wasn’t the middle of nowhere, North Dakota, and it wasn’t Native American land, there would’ve been massive riots. Naturally, I wanted to write a song about my experience there, but because it was an Indigenous-led movement it felt super important for me to have an Indigenous voice on it. Chuck Billy is a member of the Pomo Indian tribe, and he’s a dear friend. We’d talked about the situation before, so I reached out to him and he said yeah. It worked out really great, and this one’s for the Natives.”