Weapon of Mass Destruction
The Making of Lamb of God’s Ashes of the Wake
In the decade before the release of Ashes of the Wake, Lamb of God experienced only slow-burning forward momentum. Beginning life as Burn the Priest, they were DIY personified, using scrounged-up connections and resources to play whatever living room, basement, squat, garage or hole in the wall that would host them (providing their ramshackle van would actually make it to their destination). Following the cobbling together of their self-produced, self-titled debut, they flipped their moniker, inked a deal with Prosthetic and found fortunes nudging skyward: two widely released LOG LPs, including the Devin Townsend-produced As the Palaces Burn, and discovery by more fans via proper gigs at proper venues. But it was the 15 months following Palaces’ release that saw the most significant shift in the band’s history.
At the dawn of Decibel in 2004, the spotlight was shining on the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, and Lamb of God—alongside their cohorts in Shadows Fall, God Forbid and Killswitch Engage—found themselves with bigger profiles, courting the next phase of their careers. Sensing a rare opportunity, the Richmond-based quintet curtailed Palaces’ promotional cycle to juggle label attention and tap into the creative well, with the goal of delivering their major label debut. Undoubtedly, the flurry of activity agreed with Lamb of God. Ashes of the Wake is the sound of the underground clashing with the mainstream; maturity and experience battle with bluster and scrappiness, and both sides claim victory.
Enlisting the production talents of Gene “Machine” Freeman—though keeping the fader-slider on a short leash—and pointing an acerbic finger at personal demons, social dystopia, Gulf War II and the string-pulling politicos, Ashes rode the gritty groove and visceral power of “Laid to Rest,” “Hourglass,” “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For,” “What I’ve Become” and “Remorse Is for the Dead” to unexpected heights. With the power of Epic behind it, Ashes was the first Lamb of God album to crash the Billboard charts. First-week sales clocked in at 35,000 copies, as the record ultimately became the band’s biggest seller, eventually going gold in 2016. Lamb of God also graduated from dingy clubs to the top of the bill on outdoor festivals, playing arenas and shaking theater foundations around the world, and they haven’t looked back.
Ashes is Lamb of God’s most significant pivot point. It was the album where they made the biggest leap in terms of understanding what goes on in boardrooms and behind the mixing board. It also saw them take the life-altering plunge into the world of being full-time, professional musicians. Nothing would be the same, and for all the indelible changes it made in the lives of vocalist Randy Blythe, guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton, bassist John Campbell and then-drummer Chris Adler—as well as the enduring imprint it’s made in the name of American metal—we welcome Ashes of the Wake to our hallowed Hall.
Need more Lamb of God? To read the entire seven-page story, featuring interviews with all members who performed on Ashes of the Wake, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.