Is LAMB OF GOD The New METALLICA?
One of metalheads favorite complaints is that there is no new Metallica, and that furthermore, we will never have another great band to unite us on that scale. I'm sorry to say that this is very true. Even hugely unifying bands like Ghost or Avenged Sevenfold have some pretty massive detractors fighting against them. While I genuinely doubt that we will ever again see a band on the scale of Metallica, I still think we can have bands that find a similar place in the metal cultural landscape, and I feel pretty confident saying the most likely candidate has to be Lamb Of God – there are almost no other options in the modern metal scene.
The inspiration for this article actually came when my dad forwarded me an e-mail from the venue he had seen Willie Nelson at advertising an upcoming Lamb Of God show. That kind of threw me off. My dad is a pretty normal dude, the fact that he was being targeted by an ad for Lamb Of God seemed a little unusual. I get that the venue probably sends updates for every big band coming through, but still the point remains. We live in a world where a band as extreme as Lamb Of God can easily find their way into the inbox of a (very) casual music fan.
That was only the beginning though. The more I searched, the more I realized that Lamb Of God has actually been able to get significant pieces in a lot of major decidedly un-metal publications. Randy Blythe obviously has gotten all sorts of coverage for his Czech imprisonment, but even Chris Adler found himself in food magazines to promote his new restaurant. That's the kind of thing that for a long time was really only the territory of washed-up glam rockers. The fact that a relevant metal drummer who has played on some of the most exciting records of the past few years could make his way into those types of publications… well that's kind of nuts right? That's not even mentioning perhaps their greatest coup de grace – getting booked to perform on Jimmy Kimmel. Some people talk about the "glass ceiling" in metal – and if Lamb Of God didn't destroy it with this national television performance, I don't know what will.
I get that Lamb Of God have been around for almost twenty years, whereas Metallica had similar PR success after less than a decade – but again, we need to remember how different the industry is these days. It's not really Lamb Of God's fault that it takes longer to get established and to engage in projects like this in the modern context. I also understand that Metallica have a much more mainstream appeal, and though you might not like Lamb Of God's more recent output, it's certainly not comparable to The Black Album by any metric. Yet Lamb Of God is still a band with global appeal who get mentioned in the Wall Street Journal like it ain't no thang.
Ben Falgoust of Goatwhore once mentioned to me that he noticed that “with bands like Metallica, then Pantera, then Slipknot, and then Lamb of God, you see the intensity being ratcheted up. And the underground is way crazier it gets crazier as normal people start to appreciate more extreme stuff." This is important for us as underground metal fans. It means that slowly the music we love is going to start getting the appreciate it deserves. The underground will also grow as a result. The more extreme the music the mainstream is, the more underground dudes will protest that with increasingly fucked up music. People used to laud Metallica back in the day for making it possible for underground metal bands to blow up, how is that so different from Lamb Of God taking Sylosis on tour to help grow their name?
You may not want to admit the underground is cracking into the mainstream but it is. Sure, black metal may only be for you and your friends on your uber-grim black metal forum, but it's years of mainstream metal fans buying into bands like Lamb Of God that has lead to a stronger metal scene today. I don't even like Metallica, I can't remember the last time I intentionally listened to one of their songs, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that they helped to benefit the community as a whole. Slipknot, for all they do, only really take huge names on tour with them, Lamb Of God, though they don't have quite the same clout (yet), have always made their ties to the underground readily apparent. You have to love the guys who took frikkin' Power Trip out to play amphitheaters. This is important because they may very well may be the next bearers of the crown, lords of a metal nation dedicated to helping break new and exciting bands for a new generation of fans.
So no – Lamb Of God isn't necessarily the new Metallica, but that might just be because they represent something greater. Though Metallica proved that metal bands could become rock stars Lamb Of God are proving that you can carve out a distinct niche as metal stars – and metal stars are going to matter. With a genre increasingly busting into the mainstream we are going to need vibrant figureheads to keep this whole thing moving forward. Not everyone loved Rob Halford back in the day either – but he too helps to stand for something above and beyond the metal cause. This is the kind of role Lamb Of God seem set to play – ambassadors for metal, drawing kids in and baptizing them as slaves to the steel.