‘End of Days’ brings Slayer and Lamb of God

When Slayer brings its final world tour, aka “The End of Days Is Near,” to Covelli Centre on Monday, the thrash icons will be accompanied by one of the most accomplished heavy metal acts it’s influenced.

Lamb of God aligns with the ferociously fast style of rock but its independent ways and unique approach has placed the Richmond, Va.-based act at the top of the new wave of American metal.

Lamb of God has been supporting the majority of Slayer’s final trek around the globe.

“Slayer gave Lamb of God our very first two overseas shows. Slayer has subsequently taken us on several full-length tours, both at home and abroad,” Lamb singer Randy Blythe said. “It is irrefutable that Slayer helped create the genre of aggressive metal, and all modern bands of that ilk owe them a huge debt — I know we do.”

For Blythe’s bandmate, guitarist Willie Adler, it’s enabled him to relive his youth. “I’m sure there was an element of teenage angst that I had when I picked up Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood’ when I was 12 or 13.”

What he noticed then has stuck with him to this day as a songwriter for Lamb of God. “They were singing about evil stuff, but those riffs were pretty evil as well, just atonal and weird but super heavy. It was super cool. I don’t know how else to describe it. I hadn’t heard riffs like that. There were plenty of other metal bands at the time but nobody was doing what Slayer was doing.”

And there are few bands doing it as well as Slayer is even today. Over 37 years, the band released 12 albums, influenced countless metal acts and performed as headliners or as part of Ozzfest, the Clash of the Titans and the Big 4 with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax.

Adler shares guitar duties with Mark Morton and has publicly stated that his main interest lies in creating memorable riffs rather than shredding during a guitar solo.

When that’s brought up, he quickly responds, “Absolutely! I’m way more interested in being an interesting songwriter than being able to noodle up and down on guitar. There’s a million kids that can probably smoke me on guitar that are probably 14 or 15 years old. I’m just not interested in that. Go see the Joe Satriani tour if you’re interested in that.

“I want to create a story through riffs, and Slayer did that when I was a kid and that had me enthralled. So I want to create that same experience for kids.”

It’s been four years since Lamb of God’s last album of new music, “VII: Sturm Und Drang.” At the moment, the band is looking back and celebrates the 15th anniversary of its major-label debut, “Ashes of the Wake.” It has been re-released on double-vinyl with four non-LP tracks.

“Ashes” brought Lamb of God to the forefront of the heavy metal scene as a commercial and critical success. The intense, heavy grooves on the record were matched by lyrics that explored a post-9/11 world and repercussions of the Iraq War.

“That album is super special to all of us in the band,” Adler said. “It was a landmark record for us, not only creatively, but in the path of our career and where we were and everything that was happening at that time. We’d just gotten on Ozzfest, and we were hungry, kind of a band of brothers, all of us against the world type of thing.

“It’s cool to be able to see it now and see fans appreciate it for what it is because looking back on it, it’s so unfocused creatively. There’s songs, of course, that have always been stand-up, like ‘Laid to Rest’ and some others, but there’s also songs like ‘Hourglass’ that are just riff after riff and follow no convention in songwriting whatsoever. And to me, that’s super cool that that song resonates to people the way it has and still does when it was almost like a free-for-all creatively and the way that we approached it. There’s just something special in that.”

Adler constantly focuses on songwriting but more so now that Lamb of God’s members are working toward the creation of its eighth studio album.

“It’s cruising right along. I’m pretty comfortable where we are right now,” Adler said of the album. “There’s a lot of music that’s been written and there’s a lot of stuff that’s been whittled down. Every bit of down time that we’ve had has been focused on this new record. Going back to the better part of a year and a half to two years, this has been in the process one way or another, if I’m sitting here riffing or Mark is.

“I am super comfortable with the amount of music we currently have and the quality of it. Of course, it’ll get whittled down, and once vocals get laid on it, we’ll see what stands up and what falls short. At this point, I think that we’re pretty comfortable with the breadth of material that we’ve come up,” he said. “It’s just going to take time, and with these tours, being able to schedule studio time, and making sure that we allow the proper time that’s needed to make the record as cool as possible.”

Adler realizes that as one legendary act puts away its gear forever, his band is among those that must pick up the heavy metal mantle for fans everywhere to fill the void.


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