One of the major metal releases of 2009 will be ‘Wrath’, the latest offering from Lamb of God, their first with Roadrunner Records.

The promotional treadmill has already kicked back into action, ahead of a lengthy world tour which will see the band play across the US and Europe, as well as visiting Australia, South Africa, South America, Japan and Indonesia.

Room Thirteen were one of only a couple of websites offered promo time when the band made a very brief visit to the UK earlier this month.

We talk to drummer Chris Adler about the new record, lyrical inspiration, their plans for touring the world (and the strong chance of an appearance at Download) and his thoughts on the political changes back home.

R13: You say this new record will surprise a few people, in what way?
C: If you’re already a fan of the band and know our album ‘Sacrament’, I think we tried to do a little bit more than what a normal metal band does, we tried to experiment and tried some different types of songs. I think people might expect us to take that a bit further, to go more commercial and get songs on the radio. Instead we went in the other direction and made an album which is faster and heavier than ‘Sacrament’ is.
R13: So do you think people will be surprised because you started experimenting?
C: I think people will be surprised because we didn’t continue experimenting, that we didn’t go further and sell out. Some fans might expect us to go for the cash grab with a less aggressive album in the hope of getting even more fans.
R13: Maybe thinking you’ve been nominated for a Grammy once you might want more of the action.
C: Not at all. We were very proud to be nominated for a Grammy but that’s not what we’re about at all. It was nice that it happened but if it never happens again then that’s fine and if it happens every time from here on then that’s also fine.

R13: Did you find having people watching you work via your website adds any additional pressure?
C: Not really. I was the one who suggested we do that. We had webcams in the drum studio so people could hear me recording the songs and we did that for a couple of weeks. When I was a kid listening to records I would have loved to see in the studio and see what it was like. I also think that a lot of people don’t know how it’s done and might think there are a lot of tricks and fake stuff going on in the studio and that people aren’t really playing those parts or their instruments in that way. So I wanted to get rid of that smoke and mirrors, so people could see that I was really there, playing those songs in that way.
R13: And in fact you altered one or two things along the way because of feedback you were getting.
C: There was a chat window with the webcam and there was a small part in one of the songs, a drum fill, and I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and the producer had a separate idea of what he wanted to do, so we ran a poll with the people who were watching to see what they thought was best.
R13: And who won?
C: I think it was probably the producer (laughs).

R13: You’ve talked about wanting to use that technology when you go on the road, have you had any further thoughts on what you might do?
C: Yeah, we’ve started talking about it, we’re doing the ‘Defenders of the Faith’ Metal Hammer tour in the UK then our own headlining tour in the US, and when we headline we can talk to the venues and get a suitable Internet connection up to the stage. Then we can set up a webcam say behind the drums so people can tune into the shows. We’re talking to venues and promoters at the moment to see if that’s possible.

R13: You’ve talked in the past about throwing out decent material in order to get the best, how do you figure out if something is merely decent and not likely to be viewed as the best? That must be quite a tricky thing to do.
C: It is tricky, but that’s really part of the magic of writing songs. The five of us, we’re all there when we’re writing songs, sometimes Randy isn’t but all musicians are, and we all have a very high expectation of ourselves and each other. It’s very tough to get something past all five of us; something has to be very good to get all the way round the room. This is especially so now as our career gets longer and we have a number of albums behind us, we’re always wanting to evolve and push ourselves, so not only are we filtering each other very heavy-handedly, but we have a back catalogue and we can’t allow any of that back in either. So it gets very narrow and very strict, and I think this album, certainly has the most aggressive, but some of the strongest material we’ve ever done.
R13: I guess gut feeling plays a big part when you’ve been doing it for as long as you have.
C: Yeah, there’s no formula or equation or anything like that. If it makes the hairs stand up or makes you want to punch something or drive fast, if it makes you feel something then that’s good stuff.

R13: ‘Ashes of the Wake’ is an album that balances the personal with the political, you described ‘Sacrament’ as your darkest record to date inspired by a bleak world view, what was the driving force behind the lyrics on ‘Wrath’?
C: ‘As The Palaces Burn’ and ‘Ashes of the Wake’ were very political records and we decided with ‘Sacrament’ we wanted to try and get away from that as we’d done that for two albums.
R13: There’s a risk you could get typecast.
C: Correct, and that is what was happening. ‘Sacrament’ was much more personal, Randy would be very introspective about his views and what was going on in and around his life. This record, we knocked down the barriers, nothing was off limits. With ‘Sacrament’ politics were off limits, but this one, ‘Wrath’, it includes everything. There are songs that are very personal, songs about people we know, politics, the environment; it’s a mix of everything we talk about.

R13: And on the political note, how do you personally feel about the political changes happening in the US, are you excited or are you taking a more pragmatic view?
C: It’s a very exciting time for our country and the world. There’s been eight years of tyranny and, as much as I’m proud to be from where I’m from it’s been an embarrassment. Especially traveling abroad and being asked questions like how could you let this happen and why would you vote this way? With Obama taking over, he’s not going to come in and solve everything on day 1, but to me it represents the fact that the country has recognized that a very significant change is necessary in, not only the way we’ve been doing things, but in all world politics. It’s time for a far more friendly government, especially in the US, and I’m personally very excited about it.

R13: As you say, everything won’t be solved overnight, but there does seem to be this overwhelming expectation that suddenly everything will be all right again.
C: There is, and I’m convinced people will soon realise that it will take some time and personally I’m well aware of that. No one person can repair the damage that has been caused in the past eight years and it’s going to be long after Obama has gone that some of these damages have been sorted, but it is the start of a process, a sign to the world that we have recognized the mistakes and problems that have existed and we are going to begin to fix them.

R13: Returning to Lamb of God and your new record, have you played much new stuff live yet?
C: We’ve played three of the songs from the new record. On the Metallica run we were doing one or two and on our own headlining run we did two or three. The songs we were playing were ‘Contractor’, ‘Dead Seeds’ and sometimes ‘Set To Fail’. I’m looking forward to playing new stuff, I personally would like to play the whole album from beginning to end and then come back and play some of the older and more popular songs but I don’t know if it’ll get that far. I’m certainly looking forward to the release at the end of February when we can play more new songs.
R13: But do you think you could do something like that? Some bands have a fan base that would be more than happy for a band to play a new album in full whereas other artists have fans who wouldn’t be so keen on the idea.
C: (laughs) Sure, it’s a hard mix to get right when deciding what to play. We’ve come up through the grassroots and it’s been a slow rise, we’ve been a band for fifteen years now and our audience has grown slowly with us, it’s not been an overnight success so I don’t want to just play new stuff and forget the old as that would be an insult to the fans that have been with us from the beginning. I’m very very proud of this record and I’d love to play as much of it as possible and hopefully the fans enjoy it as much if not more than all of our records.

R13: How did you find playing in the rounds on the Metallica tour? That must have been an interesting experience.
C: It was interesting and was very difficult the first time. Having not had that experience before everyone was a little nervous wondering how it might go and we did surprisingly well at it. The guys were able to move around the stage a lot; unfortunately for me the drums were stuck in one spot. It’s a really nice set up they’ve got going on there and I think we held our own on that tour rather well.

R13: Having already mentioned the Metal Hammer tour for the UK, I saw Download being talked about as a likely date, is that set in stone yet as far as you’re aware?
C: It’s not set in stone as yet. What I do know is we begin our tour on February 5 in Finland at the Frostbite Festival, then we come to the UK and Ireland for the Metal Hammer tour. We then go to Australia for the Soundwave Festival with Nine Inch Nails, then Japan with In Flames…
R13: I saw Indonesia on your schedule, is that somewhere you’ve been to before?
C: No, it’s our first time so we’re very excited about having the invitation. We’re also going to places on this trek in South America and South Africa and maybe some shows in Poland. They’re even talking about getting us into China right now so some exciting stuff. But I know that for the whole summer we’re booked to be with Metallica across Europe so as we’re already over here I would hope we’d get to go to Download. I have heard that there’s a shortlist and we’re on it. We haven’t had the official offer yet but I know we’re in contention.
R13: It would make sense with the new album and the cycle that often happens with Download where a band of your stature will play one year, then not be there the next, then play the following one.
C: Sure, and we played in 2007 and it was one of the best shows we played in the history of the band.
R13: You released that show on DVD.
C: We did, I very much hope we can go again.

R13: When you go to a place like Donington, or any famous venue around the world, does that add any additional pressure?
C: It’s exciting. From the early days of the band when we were playing places like CBGB’s in New York which is a tiny shithole of a club…
R13: But with a real reputation.
C: Oh there’s so much history, The Police even played this shitty little punk rock club. All the punk bands and metal bands we listened to when growing up have played there. In San Fransisco there’s a place called the Pad where Testament and Forbidden when they were on the up played and Machine Head spent a lot of time there, these are people that we’ve looked up to and have listened to when growing up. It’s an honour to be playing these places, even if they are little shitholes, but even if they’re enormous like Donington the experience is really amazing. To put yourself in those shoes is humbling, quite scary but it makes the shows go well.
R13: Nerves are good though.
C: Every show, whether it’s to 10 people or 75,000 I get nervous, but that’s cool.