EXCLUSIVE: Lamb of God Release Rare B-Side for ‘Ashes of the Wake’ 15th Anniversary
It's been just over a month since Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton was last in Arizona. But there he was again, right back in Phoenix on Thursday (May 2), preparing for his band's first show supporting Slayer on the current tour from the concluding quarter of the Big Four. There was plenty reason to celebrate: Lamb of God's major label debut, Ashes of the Wake, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. A special re-release of the album containing rare B-side "Another Nail for Your Coffin" is available now, and the groove-metal success story from Richmond, Virginia, share a new video for the rare track exclusively via Loudwire. Watch it below.
Five weeks ago, Morton was in the Grand Canyon State jamming onstage with special guest David Ellefson of Megadeth. It was the closing gig of a recent solo run behind Anesthetic, the Lamb of God mainstay's side project album he released in March. His solo muse seemingly satisfied, for now, Morton has turned his attention back to his main act. But 2004 was more than a hot minute ago, and the outfit have come a long way since. This week, recalling the circumstances of the B-side's exclusion from Ashes, the guitarist warned that each band member "may have a little bit different recollection of it." Here's how Morton remembered it.
"Sometimes the reason songs get left off really just comes down to a vote," the musician explained of Lamb of God's egalitarian approach. "As I recall, there was some apprehension after I introduced that song, musically. The outro is this really soaring, kind of melodic, almost major-key piece. At the time, I think that some of the band members were a little apprehensive about stepping out of our lane to that degree."
Regardless of the tune's ultimate veto, the song's scope piggybacks nicely on the album's outlook, and it was included as a bonus track on the original Japanese release. Notwithstanding the general air of nonconformity present in Lamb of God's preceding catalog, "Another Nail for Your Coffin" and its parent album can be heard as a revolt against the mindset that led to President George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq, perhaps an early inquiry into the War on Terror's human consequences. But if you're drawing a line from Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" to, yes, Megadeth's "Peace Sells," can Ashes of the Wake truly be regarded as its era's headbangers' guide for conscientious objectors? The musician wouldn't say.
"The most powerful music is left open to interpretation," Morton proposed. "It's always more powerful when the listener can take what's being presented and identify that within their own story. When an artist or musician begins explaining in detail what songs are about, it narrows their scope. You're eliminating and sort of delegitimizing the relationship that many more people might have had with it. I think it's counterproductive, and it's taken me some time to realize that. In the early days, I wanted to tell you what all the words were about and what they meant. But it's all bullshit. Because even if that's where it came from, you're excluding the experience of a much broader audience that can relate to it on their own level."
What the guitarist was willing to open up about was the band's journey in signing to a major label, Epic Records, after two indie releases (2003's As the Palaces Burn and 2000's New American Gospel) and a full-length foray under the name Burn the Priest (1999). Once Lamb of God made enough of a ruckus in their hometown and beyond, they inked the deal with the Sony Music subsidiary. But the new arrangement brought its own set of challenges, and Morton looked back on the constraints the group faced in making their 2004 album.
"The timeline of Ashes of the Wake was very intimidating for me," the musician reflected. "With that first Burn the Priest album, we wrote the songs over four or five years. Then between that and New American Gospel, we had a solid two years; we were still working our day jobs and playing shows up and down the East Coast. Then another two years between Gospel and As the Palaces Burn. But right after Palaces dropped, we got signed to Epic, so we had to go right back into writing mode. Not only did we have the pressure of being on a major label, but we had just recorded what we thought was a really killer album, and then we had to do it all over again. But the stakes were way higher."
The squeeze seems to have paid off. Not only does the effort stand as an expressive achievement with a far-reaching impact on metal, but even Lamb of God's peers share a piece of its influence. "Ashes is one of those records that I have to listen to all the way through every time I put it on," Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian shared. His bandmate, drummer Charlie Benante, concurred with a list of favorite tracks. "Signature record for the Lambs," Benante offered. "'Omerta,' 'Laid to Rest' and 'Now You've Got Something to Die For' are such killer tunes."
Those aren't the only accolades fellow musicians have for Lamb of God's landmark release. GWAR vocalist Blothar (aka Mike Bishop) praised the band for their unique place in the local metal lore of the River City, the same place GWAR originated. Further, Trivium bassist Paolo Gregoletto discussed discovering the album, the musician recalling the rush he felt upon initially hearing the original 11 bone-shaking tracks.
"Lamb of God allowed their experience coming up in the Richmond music scene to shape their aesthetic approach to metal," Blothar shared. "They took those influences and blended them with their love of groove to make something truly unique and timeless. In a way, their success is also the success of the Richmond scene, taking that and making it internationally recognized. I will always love them for that."
Gregoletto recollected, "The first time I ever played Ashes of the Wake in my truck, it felt like the riffs and drums were trying to kick their way out of my speakers. The anger in the lyrics was focused, and the music felt like the soundtrack to the world coming apart. If it were released today, it would feel just as timely and relevant. That album kicked the doors open for many bands — mine included — and helped launch metal back into the mainstream."
But don't worry, Lamb of God fans. This is a capstone, not a headstone. "There's more coming up," Morton promised. "After this tour, we're booked in Europe for part of the summer. And we've been writing. Willie [Adler, fellow Lamb of God guitarist] and I in particular have been working really hard on a bunch of new material. It's all in process, it's moving forward on a bunch of different levels. There's gonna be no shortage of Lamb of God in the coming years."
See the band's upcoming tour dates below.
Slayer, Lamb of God, Amon Amarth + Cannibal Corpse 2019 Tour Dates
May 3 - Albuquerque, N.M. @ Isleta Amphitheatre
May 5 - El Paso, Texas @ Don Haskins Center
May 7 - Edinburg, Texas @ Bert Ogden Arena
May 8 - Dallas, Texas @ The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
May 10 - Tampa, Fla. @ MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
May 11 - West Palm Beach, Fla. @ Coral Sky Amphitheatre
May 13 - Huntington, W.V. @ Big Sandy Superstore Arena
May 14 - Columbia, Md. @ Merriweather Post Pavilion
May 16 - Noblesville, Ind. @ Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center
May 18 - Columbus, Ohio @ MAPFRE Stadium
May 19 - Clarkston, Mich. @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
May 20 - Youngstown, Ohio @ Covelli Centre
May 22 - Ottawa, Canada @ Canadian Tire Centre
May 24 - Camden, N.J. @ BB&T Pavilion
May 25 - Mansfield, Mass. @ Xfinity Center
Lamb of God 2019 Tour Dates
May 4 - Mexico City, Mexico @ Domination Festival
May 17 - Bonner Springs, Kan. @ Providence Medical Center Amphitheater
June 13 - Nickelsdorf, Austria @ Nova Rock Festival
June 14 - Interlaken, Switzerland @ Greenfield Festival
June 16 - Castle Donington, England @ Download Festival
June 18 - Tilburg, Netherlands @ O13 Poppodium
June 19 - Cologne, Germany @ Essigfabrik
June 21 - Copenhagen, Denmark @ Copenhell
June 22 - Dessel, Belgium @ Graspop Metal Meeting
June 23 - Clisson, France @ Hellfest
June 24 - Bochum, Germany @ Matrix
June 26 - Partille, Sweden @ Partille Arena
June 28 - Seinäjoki, Finland @ Provinssi
June 30 - Gräfenhainichen, Germany @ Full Force Festival
July 1 - Frankfurt, Germany @ Batschkapp
July 3 - Athens, Greece @ Gazi Music Hall
July 5 - Lisbon, Portugal @ Vagos Open Air
July 6 - Viveiro, Spain @ Resurrection Fest
Oct. 11 - Sacramento, Calif. @ Aftershock Festival
Oct. 13 - Manchester, Tenn. @ Exit 111 Festival
Lamb of God Albums Ranked