Lamb of God with Atreyu , Unearth and Every Time I Die at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Sunday (August 29), 7 pm. $19.50. 416-466-0313. Rating: NNNNN
Virginian metallic riffers Lamb of God play extreme tunes with the controlled abuse of an evil doctor. And, like evil doctors, they don't take their work home with them. Their schedule already has enough metal in it, thank you, and Lamb of God don't need it during off time. From an Ozzfest off-day gig with tourmates Atreyu and Every Time I Die in Louisville, vocalist Randy Blythe elaborates.
"I don't listen to a lot of metal. I play it for a living, and I tour with literally 20 other bands every day. I hear heavy metal all the time. So when I'm at home or trying to sleep, I'm gonna listen to some dub reggae or jazz or some shit, because too much metal would make my head explode.
"On the bus we listen to everything from Skynyrd to Jill Scott to an Eric Clapton box set to hiphop beats we make on our laptop."
The band has been together for 10 years, since Blythe saw bassist John Campbell, guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler and Willie's brother Chris on drums at a show in a garage in Richmond, Virginia, where all members had settled to go to college.
"A week later, I was in the band. It's been downhill ever since. In a good way," says Blythe.
He says the band fits into the city's musical tradition.
"Richmond has a good band thing built around riffs. There were bands like Breadwinner and Butterglove - their music was heavily dependant on the riffs. And when I heard my band playing at this show, I was like, 'They got riffs. '"
Blythe says that at first, with death metal as a vocal influence, he sounded like "a mountain gorilla, singing in a monster voice the whole time." But eventually he settled on a savage bark that strays as far from nu-metal cheese as possible because, as Blythe puts it, "I hate that crap."
Their new album, Ashes Of The Wake, is a piece of work - precise, tight, heavy and uncompromising, with guest solos from Alex Skolnick of Testament and Megadeth's Chris Poland.
Blythe and Morton write the lyrics. The themes tend to veer away from the sunny toward the subject of flames, with lines like "Send the daughters to the pyre / stoke the flame of the empire." Blythe agrees.
"There's nothing happy on the record. Our music is not happy music. You can't write a Lamb of God love song. The record overall thematically, between what me and Mark have written, is pretty much about the demise of our civilization as we are all watching it unfold before us.
"The record at times is pretty heavily political, leaning against George W. Bush."
He says that the crowd is responsive to his Bushitler onstage smack talk, and that he's just doing his part to help stop the destruction of the world.
"I really hope Bush doesn't win. The best I can do is talk to people and write about it, and hope that people will open their eyes, stop being such apathetic cows and get out and vote. We have got to get that monkey out of the office before he kills us all."