Music preview: Lamb of God resumes touring with singer's fate still up in the air
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Lamb of God was all set for a typical summer of heavy metal mayhem and then, out of nowhere, it ran headlong into a nightmare.
On a trip to the Czech Republic in June, singer Randy Blythe was arrested and detained on manslaughter charges, accused of causing a fan's death two years earlier by pushing him off the stage.
He was held for five weeks before being released on bail, pending a trial. The Virginia band canceled its summer tour with Dethklok and just got back on the road in late October on a tour that stops Tuesday at Stage AE.
It's been a difficult few months for the band and, says guitarist Willie Adler, "It still is. We're kind of waiting to see exactly what the decision is going to be, but initially we were all a bit shell-shocked that something like that could happen."
After posting bail, the 41-year-old singer, known for his monstrous roar, expressed his regret about the incident, said he had no knowledge that a fan had been injured and called the event "a tragic coincidence," given the culture of moshing and stage-diving at metal shows.
The guitarist says Mr. Blythe "is handling it better than anybody I can imagine handling something like that. He's doing extremely well, and he's got the best spirits about it, and he's willing to do what it takes to make everything right for the kid's family and everything else."
How does the band proceed in terms of dealing with the violent mosh pit that spring up at these shows?
"We're not doing anything necessarily different," Mr. Adler says. "We make it abundantly clear to the venues, because it is their responsibility to provide security, that no one is allowed on stage during the show besides us. I guess we're just trying to push that point home a little harder."
The incident has had a chilling effect in the world of metal. "I think what happened changed the entire scene," he say. "And I think that other bands have realized that, and I think a lot of bands are following suit. It was all eyes are on us, and everybody kind of took note and kind of altered in some way the way they approach the live setting."
Lamb of God had started 2012 much more auspiciously with the release of a seventh album, "Resolution," hailed as a return to the band's ferocious yet intricate form of groove metal.
"All of our albums are quite different than the one before it," Mr. Adler says. "I think on this one, we kind of went places with it that I don't want to say we were afraid to go before, but we opened ourselves up to different opportunities and different frames of mind to write it. As we grow old and play more, the dynamics between us grows and we become far more developed as songwriters, and then players. This album, we did more orchestration and clean vocals, so it's a departure from other stuff we've done, but still very much a Lamb of God record."
Generally regarded as one of the band's strengths is the interplay between guitarists Adler and Mark Morton, who attack from slightly different perspectives.
"Mark comes from a very bluesy background, and I am definitely a metal purist," he says. "It helps in that respect. We can feed off each other, and in some sense, challenge each other. If Mark has a riff that, at first, I have a hard time with, I'll come back the next day with a riff that's twice as hard, and vice versa."
The guitarist and his brother Chris, who plays drums and was one of the founders of the initially instrumental band in 1990, are considered the metal purists in the group.
"Growing up, it was mainly metal that we listened to and that's where both of our styles came from, whereas John [Campbell, the bassist] listened to a lot of country, Randy was into the punk rock scene and Mark was real into ZZ Top and stuff like that. I don't want to say that the other guys don't listen to metal or never did, it's just such a diverse group of guys and diverse group of musical tastes and backgrounds that everything seems to come together."
Lamb is on tour through mid-December, with little clue of what comes next.
"It's all tentative. We're still up in the air on what is going to happen, but there are plans if all goes well to continue touring and hit overseas again, and we'll keep the machine running as long as we can."
First Published November 22, 2012 12:00 am