by MIKE CHAIKEN
The Grammys and Lamb of God.
The pair don’t seem to go together.
The Grammys, which this year will be distributed on Feb. 15, tends to be about the industry honoring the respectable and commercial side of music.
Think Adele and Taylor Swift.
However, Lamb of God are muscular, sweaty road warriors pushing the boundaries of metal. And metal historically has been an outsider’s music—beloved by fans, out of place at polite cocktail parties, and not exactly embraced by the establishment.
But here is Lamb of God, which is coming to Connecticut this Saturday with Anthrax, sitting among the nominees for Best Metal Performance for the track “512,” from their latest album “VII: Sturm Und Drang.” (The other nominees in that category are Lamb of God’s former tourmates Slipknot, Ghost, August Burns Red, and Sevendust.)
“It’s interesting,” said the band’s guitarist Mark Morton of the Grammy nod. “Actually, it’s our fifth nomination.”
“We’ve never won one,” said Morton, who was calling from Atlanta, Ga., “so it’s always fascinating.”
However, Morton doesn’t dismiss the nod from the music establishment. “It’s quite flattering,” he said.
And, what is always interesting for the band—which also includes singer Randy Blythe, guitarist Willie Adler, bassist John Campbell, and dummer Chris Adler, is that the Grammy recognition is so anathemic to the group’s punk rock roots, said Morton. The band never set out to be Grammy-worthy, said Morton.
But, he said, “It’s still a thrill to be part of that group of nominees.”
“If we won, I’m not sure how I would feel,” said Morton. “It’s exciting. It’s a cool story. For me, it’s real fun.”
Prior to the recording of “VII: Sturm und Drang,” Lamb of God had gone through a tumultuous time. The band’s singer Randy Blythe found himself in legal trouble in the Czech Republic. He was accused of causing intentional bodily harm to a fan at an Lamb of God show in Prague in 2010. And he faced a lengthy prison sentence. He eventually, however, was acquitted
But all that history was a shadow lurking in the band’s history.
However, Morton said a lot of time had passed since that incident when it came time to recording “VII: Sturm and Drang.”
“It was a devastating course of events. It’s still part of our psyche,” said Morton. But when Lamb of God hit the studio, the tumult had pretty much settled down.
The strength of the album was not so much the result of the turmoil but after-effet of extensive touring, said Morton. All of that playing on stage put Lamb of God into a strong musical groove, said Morton.
Additionally, said Morton, after being on the road for so long, “On a personal level, it was exciting to be back in the studio with new material.”
One of the aspects of recording the new album that helped make it more special was a return to a more collaborative process of songwriting for Lamb of God, said Morton.
In the beginning of LOG, Morton explained, he and guitarist Willie Adler would collaborate on the material. But in time, each began to focus on writing alone and then bringing their completed work back to the band as a whole.
For “VII: Sturm and Drang,” said Morton, both he and Adler would come together with bits and pieces of music and they would work together to finish the songs just as they used to do. So, if Morton had a bridge and a chorus but couldn’t figure out the verse, that’s where Adler would step in to help complete the song. There was a definite creative dialogue behind the newest album, said Morton.
Morton said both he and Adler have different approaches to music. He said listeners can hear a definite difference between the songs he wrote alone and the songs Adler wrote alone. The merger of their talents turned out to be greater than the sum of its parts, said Morton.
Lamb of God also found itself in a bit of a firestorm late last year after it cancelled a few gigs following the attacks on Paris on Nov. 13. But, Morton said the band had received specific information that made them question the prudence of continuing the tour. And some members were concerned. So the band as a whole decided rather than letting the concerns impact the performance on stage, they would step away from a couple of gigs.
However, the break was just temporary, said Morton, and Lamb of God eventually completed the tour.
Some people might not have understood the cancellations, said Morton. But it was a personal decision that was the band’s to make.
Despite that blip of an interruption after the Paris attacks, fans will have considerable opportunities to catch Lamb of God on the road, said Morton. Since “VII Sturm and Drang” is only a few months old, it still is in its promotional touring cycle. So, there are no immediate plans to begin writing in earnest for a follow-up or stepping away from the road
Although he couldn’t give details about its touring plans, Morton said there will be lots of touring in Lamb of God’s future.
“We’ll be on the road for a while,” said Morton.
Lamb of God and Anthrax will perform at the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.
For more information, go to LiveNation.com or Lamb-Of-God.com