Lamb Of God are back on the front cover of the new issue of Metal Hammer. With new album Omens setting the world ablaze, we sat down for an audience with their firebrand frontman Randy Blythe to talk everything from nuclear armageddon and The Royals to just what the hell is happening in the world right now and what they are doing to help. Here are 10 things we learned from Randy...
Despite how dark Omens is, Lamb Of God are pretty happy right now
It isn't a stretch to say Omens is possibly Lamb Of God's bleakest record. ‘Hanging by a thread/now you can choke on it,’ Randy spits on album opener Nevermore. ‘Reap the rotten fruits of your labour/a bitter taste of absolute failure’ he offers on Ill Design. By the time you get to Gomorrah’s cheery refrain ‘Everything is doomed to fail’ you’ll be about ready to embrace nuclear oblivion like Dr. Strangelove’s Major Kong.
But when we asked how he was feeling? "Oh, I'm good, man." Right. "The album is a reflection of two things: It’s a reflection of the current state of the world and people’s reaction to that, and it’s a reflection of my mind when processing issues," he explained. "I’m not going to sit down and write a song for Lamb Of God about a perfect afternoon I had with a lady.”
Randy has a British alter-ego
Yep, really. Dubbed 'Roger Brilliant', his alter-ego even had his own dressing room at this year's Bloodstock and made a brief appearance on-stage. Apparently it all comes from Randy's love for The Crown.
"I got very obssessed with the British royals," he told us. "There was like a month where I'd be in by myself on a beanbag, yelling at the TV in a British accent. I would text my girl at night and she’d ask what I’m doing, I’d be like ‘going to England’, talking to myself with my alter-ego, Roger Brilliant."
Randy absolutely hates the word "unprecedented"
Seriously, don't say it to him. We've all read it - and heard it - countless time since the pandemic hit in 2020, but Randy is about to blow a gasket when it comes up in conversation.
"During the pandyemic I was about to pull my hair out if I heard the term ‘unprecedented’ on the news one more time," he said. "None of it is unprecedented! Since the dawn of time we have had plagues, civil unrest, economic ups and downs… The only thing that is remotely unprecedented is our capability to destroy the planet. But people are myopic and attention spans are short."
There is a message behind Omens...
For all of its nihilism and darkness, Omens is a warning to us from Lamb Of God. "If there’s a unifying theme of Omens, it’s to pay attention to what’s happened in the past because it’s happening now," Randy explains.
"Authoritarian tendencies are rising up again – especially on the far right and we have to pay attention to that so we don’t let the fucking demagogues have their way. We just don’t seem to be learning – motherfuckers, pay attention!"
But don't ask what each song is about
Lamb Of God aren't exactly shy of opinions, and will happily tell you how the state of the world has influenced their new album. But they still like to play their cards close to their chest when it comes to what each song is actually about - so don't expect them to delight in a track-by-track analysis. "I don’t really want to give the play-by-play on what each song is about because I think it robs each person of the experience of making that music their own," Randy said.
"I’m a huge music fan and I love the mystery behind some song lyrics. Like We Are 138 by The Misfits – I’m friends with Glenn Danzig, but nobody has ever really known what ‘138’ is. We just know that is what we are, as fans of that band! I don’t want to know the answer, because what that song means to him and what it means to me can be two vastly different things and what I feel about that song is just as valid as what he felt when writing it. I feel that way about our music – it is our music, but once we release it becomes everybody’s."
The best way to change the world is through individual action
"I’ve given up on there being mass social change one way or another, the only change comes with individual conversations," he told us at one point. Which goes some way to explain why he's taken such a pro-active stance on making the world a better place, from supporting his friend Damien Echols' bid to get new evidence re-examined that could clear his name, to accompanying a fan to donate bone marrow.
He's a man with a purpose, carving out meaning in a world which doesn't always make sense. "I have no choice other than to do that," he admits. "Otherwise I'd blow my fucking brains out."
Playing in a prison was understandably weird for Randy
It's been ten years since Randy was arrested and accused of manslaughter in the Czech Republic, ultimately getting acquitted in 2013. He isn't particularly interested in being questioned about his experiences ("I wrote a 500-page book that details it pretty well!" he jokes), but admits there was some weirdness when Lamb Of God played this year's Inkcarceration Festival in the US, hosted at the now-disused Ohio State Reformatory.
"I had not been in a correctional facility since I got out of the Czech Republic, so it's not a place I was rushing to go see, you know?" He admits. "As a photographer, it was awesome, it gave me a level of emotional remove, because I'm looking trough the eyes of a photographer ather than a guy who's been in a prison. But I did end up making a lot of comparisons."
"It’s not the money you make, but what you do with it that matters"
Or so Randy was told by Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan. It helped him decide to sign up with Cameo - an app that lets fans request personal videos and messages from celebrities for money. And what did Randy do with his new riches? He put them to a good cause of course, buying land in Ecuador with a friend that has been used in a re-wilding project.
"My Ecuadorian friend Carlos [Odeja] is very vocal about his distress about the deforestation rate in Ecuador, because it’s the highest of any area in the Western Hemisphere," Randy told us. "That’s fucked up – they’re the planet’s lungs, basically. I went back and it’s just green man. It’s awesome what a year and a half can do.”
Randy has an exit strategy for Lamb Of God (sort of)...
In the past, Randy has admitted to fantasising about retiring from Lamb Of God. With their 30th anniversary as a band just a couple years away and a pandemic forcing the band to slow down (albeit barely), we asked Randy what the future held...
"I haven’t seen that exit ramp yet," Randy said. "That’s very specific to Lamb Of God too – not to music in general, as I plan on making music for as long as I possibly can. But nobody needs to see 70 year-old Randy Blythe up onstage jumping around and yelling ‘this is a motherfucking invitation’.
“I’m such a physical performer, that’s what it is for me. Total physical immersion in our music. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to do that. I know for a fact that, unless something horrible happens, if we make it to 2025, that’ll be 30 years of the band. I gotta make it to 30 years, and I think my body can take that."
But still has lots he wants to do
He might be the frontman of Lamb Of God, but that isn't the sum of Randy Blythe. He also admits to being passionate about photography, and is currently working on a new book - a sort-of sequel to Dark Days.
"The last book was about personal accountability," Randy tells us. "The vehicle to that was the story about me getting arrested and going to trial. This book is about perspective and changing it to a healthy one. In recent years I’ve been listening to other people’s perspectives rather than just trying to figure out everything myself. Because I’m not going to!"
As for his ambitions for Lamb Of God, Randy admits he wants to play Vietnam (to learn about its history - and eat great food), go back to Africa and play a gig on Antarctica ("Metallica are the only band that have done that - damn you Lars Ulrich!" he jokes). Sounds like his retirement is a long way off, to us...
Read the full interview with Randy Blythe in the new issue of Metal Hammer, out now. Order it online and get it delivered to your door