Lamb of God planning to ‘blow it out’ in Salt Lake City

Concert preview • Metal band will soon sit down to focus on the future, but first they’ll close out their headlining slate at The Complex.

(Photo courtesy Travis Shinn) Richmond, Va.-based heavy metal band Lamb of God will take a brief break from their direct-support role for Slayer to play a headlining show at The Complex in Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017.

Lamb of God know that there will always be interest and intrigue in their past.

And quite naturally, the members of the band would very much like to move on and put the focus on their future.

Now, if only they could agree on what exactly that might be.

Vocalist Randy Blythe said in an interview in April that once LoG’s current tour wraps this Sunday in Phoenix, it would be “time to take a break for real.”

However, bassist John Campbell recently told The Tribune that the band’s “Sturm Und Drang” cycle could potentially be extended, noting, “This might be it on it, [or] we might do another tour, that’s yet undecided.” And when reminded of Blythe’s comments, Campbell added with a laugh, “Well, you know, a great frontman has a flair for the dramatic!”

What is certain is the band’s immediate future, which will feature a headlining show Friday at The Complex in Salt Lake City.

While spending much of the summer as direct support for metal legends Slayer, Lamb of God have intermixed headlining shows of their own, with Polish extreme metal outfit Behemoth opening, as is the case for Friday night’s concert.

That has Campbell & Co. excited.

“That’ll be our last headlining show of this tour,” he said. “So we’ll have to blow it out!”

It’s perhaps not surprising that the bassist might be looking to prolong things, considering he said this particular run has been decidedly free of drama.

“What sticks out about this one is not only is everyone on the tour very experienced and knows what’s going on, but there’s tons of kids showing up, the venues have been packed, and it’s just a well-run machine, where everybody knows what to do, and for the most part everybody’s friends and have known each other for years,” he said. “This is a — I don’t want to say a cakewalk, but this has been a great tour.”

Of course, given that the preceding years were more dramatic than anyone could ever have envisioned, it’s equally unsurprising that Blythe might wish for things to slow down for a bit.

In 2012, he was arrested in the Czech Republic and charged with committing manslaughter at a 2010 concert in Prague, when a 19-year-old fan bypassed lax security, climbed onto the stage, was shoved away by Blythe and subsequently died after hitting his head on the floor. In 2013, Blythe was found morally responsible but not criminally liable for the fan’s death, and allowed to go free.

The band resumed touring almost immediately before hitting the studio to record 2015’s “VII: Sturm Und Drang.” After yet more touring, they released “The Duke — EP” this past November, featuring two original tracks from the “Sturm Und Drang” sessions accompanied by three live performances.

The title track of the EP was noteworthy in that it featured “clean vocals” from Blythe for the first time — actual singing rather than growling or screaming.

Campbell recalled the trepidation he felt at hearing the experiment for the first time.

“They played it back for me and said, ‘Hey, I just wanna tell you something — Randy’s singing on this.’ And my heart dropped — I’ve heard him singing on the bus, just goofing off, and it’s not good! But obviously, that’s just him joking around,” he said. “So my heart sank, I was a little nervous, and then the track came on and I was completely blown away. He completely nailed it and effectively used that in his palette for doing vocals.”

When asked if more Lamb of God songs down the road might also feature clean vocals, Campbell replied, “There is no telling, but I would imagine yes, probably.” While acknowledging that some longtime fans accustomed to the band’s rougher edges might be disinclined to like that material, he said such songs’ potential to help the band continue to grow cannot be ignored.

“I think some people still have a hard time with [it]. But we’re always trying to evolve and come up with new ways to present heavy music,” Campbell said. “Not that it gets boring, but, you know, we don’t want to go out there and play the same songs every night, or play the same set and have every song be exactly the same. It’s nice to have some different emotions, some different dynamics to the set.”

Perhaps Lamb of God might develop different dynamics on that “break for real” once this tour is over, whenever that may be?

Campbell did say any future LoG music is purely theoretical at this point, while noting of guitarists and primary songwriters Willie Adler and Mark Morton, “Those dudes, at home, sit and play guitar and track stuff all the time. So I know that there are things that Willie and Mark have demoed that will probably end up being Lamb of God songs.”

But Blythe need not worry — his time off will come.

“Generally, Randy’s breaks are a little longer, because it would drive him insane to sit in the practice space as we’re pounding through riffs,” Campbell noted with a laugh.

As for the immediate future — like, say, Friday night — the plan is pretty straightforward.

“We are playing a longer setlist on the headline nights, but when we go out onstage, it’s the same goal every time — nail these songs and blow people away,” Campbell said. “We do that whether we’re opening for Slayer or headlining our own show or have a slot on a festival — we’re trying to own that stage.”

Lamb of God<br>With Behemoth, Arsenic Addiction<br>When • Friday, 7 p.m.<br>Where • The Complex (Rockwell), 536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City<br>Tickets • $30-$35; Smith’s Tix