Published Jul 23, 2015In comparison to many recent albums, Lamb of God's VII: Sturm und Drang (out July 24 on Nuclear Blast) is slim and trim at ten songs. That's ten more than seemed possible two years ago, when vocalist Randy Blythe was in the midst of a legal battle that could have landed him in jail for up to a decade. Blyth has recently expressed a desire to leave his legal issues behind him in order to focus on the band's new album and move forward. (He explores the whole story in his just-released memoir Dark Days: My Tribulations and Trials, out on Da Capo Press.)
"I wanted to release a ten-song record," says Blythe. "Everybody wants bonus tracks now, and we all wanted a ten-song record. You look at Master of Puppets or Reign In Blood, and they're short. Reign In Blood is 30 minutes, and it's just a pummelling, masterpiece. For an album that you're going to have any sort of longer songs, I think constant sonic barrage, just constant ass-beating, it gets old on the listener. You need some dynamics, some ebbs and flows."
The dynamics made for what Blythe called their "most diverse album." He attributed to this being their eighth album as a band (including one as Burn the Priest), which prompted them to expand on their foundation.
"With each record, I've tried to do something a little bit different vocally, even if it's just adding a different pitch to the voice, but this time, I think as a whole, the guys really kind of pushed themselves writing, and it is pretty diverse. It goes a lot of places, but I think it flows well at the same time."
While previous songs detoured from straight-up screaming — "Redneck" was guitarist Mark Morton's attempt at getting Blythe to sound like Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity — "Overlord" is the first time their vocalist took an entirely different route, abandoning any growly undertones.
"Willie actually wrote the majority of that song, and he just wrote some blues riffs. I was listening to the demo one day, and I was just like, 'Oh, thank god, they wrote a song I can sing to, actually. Finally!' I just started humming and that just happened naturally. That's a new voice for Lamb of God, but that's not a new voice for me, because I sing all the time. It's fun. It's fun to add different things to your voice. Hopefully I won't run out of range or something. Who knows what we'll try next?"
While they are moving forward with their sound, they got to that point by going backward in their methodology. Instead of writing songs and bringing them to the band as a whole, this time around the band got together to write, which got them collaborating more.
"I like being in a band. I like the collaborative process, and there was so much more of that on this record than there has been in quite some time, and I think it made for a better record. It brought out the full Lamb of God experience."
The full experience includes having parts that everyone might not completely into. For example, Blythe admits he's not big on guitar solos.
"No offence to my dudes, or any other guitar players out there, but when I hear solos, I really don't pay attention to them. I honestly don't. There are only a few solos that I'm like, 'That is freaking awesome!' Most of the time it sounds like jerking off to me. I'm a riff kind of dude. I come from the punk rock school. I don't care about noodling."