By: Jaime’ En Fuego, Phoenix Concerts Examiner
It’s tough to target a type of music people are more needlessly judgmental of than ‘Metal!’
On countless occasions this brand of loud, heavy and often aggressive auditory creation crafted today by groups like Richmond, Virginia’s LAMB OF GOD has served as a scapegoat for ignoring FAR larger problems, most notably when confusedly connected to acts of vicious violence inflicted upon not just others but one’s self as well. Sure there will always be bad apples such as the well-documented deviance of Scandanavian church burners and black metal murderers, but a few going rotten shouldn’t spoil the whole crop, especially in those cases since extreme music is so mainstream in the colder parts of Europe that it’s famously featured on their equivalents to our American Idol and played throughout shopping malls as frequently as synth-pop. If that influence was actually apparent wouldn’t multitudes of people presumably become corrupted instead of just a few? Back here in America things are thankfully tamer yet equally tragic as improper interpretation of lyrics typically forms the basis for crazily critical analysis with a few of the most notably notorious examples being genre giants like Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest becoming blamed for providing suicide solutions in songs then in turn being forced to defend themselves in courts of law against accusations that their bands were directly responsible when such saddening things transpired. These cases would inevitably hit logical walls, stall then fall however it’s done nothing to deter the efforts of those determined to connect the dots where those lines don’t actually exist.
Even in the early 90’s when drummer Chris Adler, bassist John Campbell and guitarist Mark Morton began working as an instru-Metal outfit, it was evidently obvious that the musicians who would help comprise LAMB OF GOD were out to raise eyebrows with a sound prime rime for finger-pointing. Following rounding out their lineup with the voice of death-core extraordinaire Randy Blythe they released their lone self-titled effort under the original, more menacing moniker BURN THE PRIEST, a title that in and of itself shows that they were out to instantly grab people’s attention. As an underground fan-base formed through countless DIY shows second guitarist Abe Spear was replaced with Adler’s younger brother Willie and the newly, more ambiguously crowned ‘Lamb Of God’ signed a deal with Prosthetic Records and unleashed New American Gospel shortly after the world’s Y2K fears were averted. Critics championed the masterful melding on display of everything Metal but the kitchen sink from death-thrash brash to sludge-groove doom, cunningly contained within the same arrangements. Tracks like “Letter To The Unborn,” heard here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i39_Ly8W54U, about Blythe’s miscarried child also showed that the genre’s standard subject cliche’s would not dominate the lyrical proceedings, an approach that only grew on 2003’s follow-up As The Palaces Burn, which turned attention upon a country in conflict across the globe and whose high profile assessments helped to raise them to the ranks of major label Epic Records. Despite apprehension from fans the edges never softened after that transition and the larger platform only brought more attention to the conviction behind the message melded to metal music, with their last three releases peaking in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10, including last year’s Resolution at number three and 2009’s Wrath at number two which closed with another insightfully cautionary tale entitled “Reclamation,” seen in all it’s haunting horror in this fan video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afWnZIDLVJ4, that warns about how we must cease such careless consumption of Earth’s depleting resources. It’s a noble perspective the band has always stood behind in the face of debate, however the biggest conflict of their career was what transpired between the making of their two most successful musical offerings.
LAMB OF GOD have always called attention to the necessity for humanity’s accountability whether individually, for war-torn atrocities perpetuated by global governments or the blind blundering of our planet’s perishables that are decreasingly plentiful, so it made perfect sense that when it was time for the man behind most of those wise words of warning to face up to some unexpected accusations of the most overwhelming variety he manned down and approached the situation head on! In 2010 during a concert in the Czech Republic capital of Prague a young fan sustained cranial injuries that eventually proved fatal after attempting to rush the stage and being pushed back into the crowd by Blythe and stage security, a commonplace tactic during all metal shows in the wake of former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrel’s shooting death while onstage at the hands of a deranged concertgoer. Two years later the group returned while on tour to have their frontman shockingly arrested and charged with ‘Manslaughter’ despite never being made aware of the incident or its severity. The vocalist could have turned his nose up at the charges when he was finally allowed to return to the United States after over a month in Czech detention without bail but he swore to prove his innocence at whatever the cost instead of cowering in our country and awaiting an extensive extradition process which could have dragged on for years even though he faced 5-10 years in a foreign prison if convicted. Undeterred, he still stood behind his convictions all while showing sincerest sadness about the fate of helpless fan and was eventually pronounced innocent in early March. All charges against Blythe were subsequently dropped, not only lifting the weight of the world from one man’s shoulders but more importantly representing the responsibility that a form of music misunderstood by many has continually lived up to.
LAMB OF GOD return to metropolitan Phoenix for the first time since Randy Blythe was declared a free man on Thursday, November 7 at the Marquee Theatre. Catch LoG along with over 40 years of the genre’s best artists videos 24/7 on www.HEAVYMETALTELEVISION.com where myself and a whole horde of righteous VJ’s are your gatekeepers. “Tune In, Rock Out and Stay Metal Ya’ll!”
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