Omens

Lamb of God

Omens

“If anybody paying attention to the state of the world over the last few years isn’t angry, I have nothing to say to them.” That’s the sum total of what Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe offers about the generally pissed-off tone of the Grammy-nominated metal band’s ninth album. And while songs like “Grayscale,” “Ditch,” and “Ill Designs” practically drip with sociopolitical venom, guitarist Mark Morton notes that one doesn’t have to be in personal turmoil to write vitriolic songs. “I wasn’t angry when I made this record at all,” Morton tells Apple Music. “I’m in a great place in my life. I love making music with my best friends. But there’s plenty of negative stuff in the world to write heavy metal songs about, and we certainly tapped into that—as we always have. We’re being marketed and sold falling skies, doom and gloom and all this end-of-days material. That stuff makes wonderful fodder for metal music.” Below, he and Blythe discuss the songs on Omens. “Nevermore” Blythe: “This song is very much about my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Lyrically, it’s sort of scripted in the Southern gothic/horror-tinged tones that Edgar Allan Poe employed so well—and he’s from Richmond. The song is about the history of the city from pre-revolutionary days to now. It’s not seen through the eyes of Poe, exactly, but his metaphors—like in his poem ‘The Raven’—are definitely employed. There’s a lot of atrocity and inhumanity and dark history that happened in Richmond, and it’s all in the song.” “Vanishing” Morton: “No two songs on this album do exactly the same thing, and ‘Vanishing’ to me feels like a very heavy metal song in the classic sense. It's full of acrobatic riffs—that’s [LOG guitarist] Willie Adler at his riff-writing finest—and yet it manages to hold that signature Lamb of God groove that [drummer] Art [Cruz] is keeping us rooted in here. It’s very dark and minor-key, very heavy and foreboding, but it’s still a workout on the fretboard.” “To the Grave” Morton: “On an album full of very collaborative songs, this is one of the most collaborative songs. It went through so many changes along the way. It was originally written to be much faster, and we slowed it way down. Once the vocal was added, parts of the music were rewritten again. Even when we were in the studio, we were still debating about different parts of it. I know this is a really personal song for Randy. His lyrics always have a personal element, but this one in particular has a lot of meaning to him.” “Ditch” Morton: “I live outside of Richmond, Virginia, and on the edge of my property are Civil War earthworks from where Confederate soldiers dug trenches to defend the city. I was crossing over those one day, and it occurred to me that a lot of the dudes who dug those trenches died in them. They dug their own graves. I began to wonder if any of them considered that while they were doing it. From there, I started to think about these parallels between then and now as a nation that’s so divided. All this contentious ideological posturing we’re doing just feels really ill-fated.” “Omens” Blythe: “A buddy of mine named Ryan Holiday wrote a book called The Obstacle Is the Way, where he writes about how to apply Stoic philosophy to modern-day life. One of the things he points out is that all of the problems we’re facing today are exactly the same problems that occurred in the ancient Roman empire at the height of Stoic philosophy. We have corrupt politicians, social upheaval, economic upheaval. There was even a plague that lasted for most of Marcus Aurelius’ reign. These problems happen again and again throughout history, but we feel like this is the first time any of it has happened. But none of this is unprecedented. And people survived and got through it.” “Gomorrah” Morton: “This one starts out kind of atmospheric and moody and then just builds in tension and intensity. It ebbs and flows in places, but I feel like the anxiety in the song grows all the way through. That was totally unplanned from a writing perspective, but I think Josh Wilbur, our producer, keyed into it and really helped us hone it. These are all Randy’s lyrics, and I don’t like the idea of trying to interpret his lyrics, but to me, it seems like a kind of self-reflection in the dystopian landscape that we all felt like we were in for a period of time.” “Ill Designs” Morton: “This is a song about consequences. It’s about watching an individual or a group of individuals manipulating situations for their own gain—and then having that turn on them in the end. It was, in a sense, about wrestling with how to feel about that. You find compassion for people as human beings, but you can’t really argue with the universe. All you can do is just see what comes back around. You could attribute this to one specific person or group of people, but it’s really about the universal theme of karma and consequence.” “Grayscale” Morton: “This is a really cool song that came very, very late in the writing process. Willie had the music for this on the side, and I don’t think he had initially intended on presenting it as a Lamb of God song. But somehow it came across the table, and everyone really liked it. It’s tuned all the way down to drop B. It’s the only song on the album that’s in B, and it’s only the second time we’ve ever done that on a record. It’s very hardcore-influenced, and it’s another song based on a personal experience of Randy’s.” “Denial Mechanism” Morton: “This is very punk rock. Like ‘Grayscale,’ it came pretty late in the process. We had seven or eight songs that were on their way to being album-ready, and we started to consider what elements we were missing. So Willie came in with a hardcore thing on ‘Grayscale,’ and I came in with a more traditional punk rock song in ‘Denial Mechanism.’ But it’s actually the first one we recorded when we got to the studio. I’m pretty sure Art’s drums are a first take, too.” “September Song” Morton: “Traditionally, we stretch out a little bit on the last song. On our past albums, this spot has been occupied by songs like ‘Reclamation’ or ‘Vigil’ or ‘Remorse Is for the Dead.’ To me, the intro of ‘September Song’ has a very June of 44 /Slint/Fugazi kind of post-punk vibe to it. I instantly loved how it was sounding as it was coming together. Even as it was taking form, I felt like it was going to be a strong contender for the album closer, which is definitely a coveted spot. You know, we always want people to listen to our albums start to finish. If you don’t make it to the end, you haven’t had the complete experience.”

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