Sacrament (15th Anniversary Edition)

Sacrament (15th Anniversary Edition)

When Lamb of God released Sacrament in 2006, it was a major breakthrough for the Richmond, Virginia-based metal band. Not only did the album debut at No. 8 on the Billboard charts, but it earned them their very first Grammy nomination for the searing lead single “Redneck.” “With Sacrament, we were stretching out a bit creatively and stylistically, and that didn’t necessarily come easy,” guitarist and co-lyricist Mark Morton tells Apple Music on the eve of the album’s 15th anniversary. “It was definitely the sound of a band going through some growing pains, but when it came out, the album really started popping off. Things were really changing for us.” Below, Morton remarks upon some of the album’s key tracks. “Walk With Me in Hell” “I think of this one in terms of the music it was inspired by, which sort of puts a timestamp on it. There’s a song on the Muse album Absolution that has a very similar riff, and also Velvet Revolver’s song ‘Slither’ has a very similar kind of movement as one of the main riffs. I wasn’t like, ‘I’m going to write a riff that sounds like Muse and Velvet Revolver put together.’ It just sort of happened because that’s what I’d be listening to riding around in the car. But it’s still a big song for the band. It’s almost always in the live set.” “Again We Rise” “This has kind of an upbeat riff, and there’s a lot of melody in the chorus. You can hear [vocalist] Randy [Blythe] coming into his own and developing his ability to pitch his screams. He’s doing a very brutal, shreddy kind of vocal, but he’s actually placing it on a note scale so it becomes a much more musical contribution to the song. And he's continued to develop that ability, where he can alternate between being a percussive presence with his vocal but also being a musical presence when appropriate—and finding a way to do that so it's not such a drastic contrast between the clean and distorted vocal. You can hear him sort of finding that sweet spot here.” “Redneck” “I brought this song called ‘Descending’ into the practice space that was kind of modeled after the style of Soundgarden’s ‘Jesus Christ Pose,’ where the verse and chorus—or, in this case, the verse and post-chorus—are very much the same riff, just treated with a different dynamic. To say it had a lukewarm reception amongst the guys is being generous. I was a little miffed, so I came back a day or two later with the music for ‘Redneck.’ It was very much like, ‘Okay, fuck you guys. If you really want a riffy rocker, here it is.’ So this was very much born out of the kind of resentful, middle-finger swagger that is intrinsic to the song. And we had the title ‘Redneck’ before the song had any lyrics because it sounded like throwing beer bottles in a parking lot.” “Pathetic” “There's a lot of negative space built into the verse on this song. We were experimenting with leaving holes in stuff—deleting sections of a riff and leaving space for it to kind of push and pull a little bit—and playing with elements of groove. The stretchy riff in the chorus is very much a musical reference to some of the bands from the Richmond music scene that were early influences on us, like Sliang Laos, who we would later cover on the Burn the Priest covers album—and Breadwinner. This is also the song we played on Late Night With Conan O’Brien because ‘Redneck’ has about a dozen F-bombs in it.” “Descending” “The backstory to this one is very much tied to ‘Redneck,’ as I mentioned before. I’ve always listened to stuff outside of what would traditionally be considered thrash metal, and hard rock was a real big thing for me in the ’90s. This doesn’t sound like a Soundgarden song, but it was inspired by the linear structure of ‘Jesus Christ Pose.’ Even the little buzzy guitar part that comes in halfway through the verse was me emulating things I’ve heard Kim Thayil do. As I said, it was very flatly received by the other guys at first, but we changed the song a little bit over time and everyone sort of warmed up to it.” “Blacken the Cursed Sun” “[Guitarist] Willie Adler wrote the music for this one, and it’s a great demonstration of his ability and tendency to write these very grand, ambitious compositions in terms of structure. I’ve always liked the way this one was layered and the way it moves. I contributed pretty significantly to the lyrical content of the song, and I was talking about isolation and self-destruction and the kind of patterns we find ourselves stuck in that become harder and harder to interrupt.”

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