“Stuff like Nick Drake definitely shows through in how we write: the movements, how we approach our instruments, how we approach creating a song" – Lamb Of God's Willie Adler talks 10 albums that changed his life

Willie Adler
(Image credit: PYMCA/Avalon/Gonzales Photo/Christian Hjorth/Universal Images Group via Getty Image)

The idea of a live album recorded during a lockdown-enforced livestream might not have that thrill that music's great live documents capture, but Lamb Of God's Willie Adler sees the band's upcoming Live In Richmond, VA differently. “It reminds me of Killadelphia,” he says, referring to the band's seminal 2004 live package. “When we played those two shows it was a moment in history, and I'm glad we had the opportunity to preserve that. I'm grateful we had those cameras there because that club no longer exists. 

"So, fast forward to us doing this livestream, in my mind it served as just as big an event. Considering the times that we're in and playing under those circumstances, I think that it lives in that same space that Killadelphia lives in.”

Given the livestream from Richmond's Broadberry theatre featured the band playing their latest self-titled opus in its entirety – the second of the two shows saw 2004's Ashes Of The Wake get the front-to-back treatment – is another source of Willie's excitement for its preservation. As he explains, this is especially poignant given that it's been the only time the band have been able to show off their latest material.

“When Lamb Of God makes an album it's very personal to us as a band and to me as a writer. The fact that in my mind the best album we've made thus far has seemed shelved because we're not able to tour or promote it, this really came along as a gift. So I really wanted to convey the energy and what this album means to me. Yes, it was much more than a show. It's the energy of that album and what we worked for, it's a light in dark times.”

The show also includes the debut of The Death Of Us, written and recorded during lockdown for the Bill & Ted Face The Music soundtrack, with Willie admitting that he's using his time to continue to write and record from his enviable studio/man cave. And it's from this guitar-decked sanctum that he regales us with tales of discovering English punk, New York hardcore, East Coast hip-hop and jazz fusion that all played their part in the musical education of one of metal's most respected six-stringers.

1. Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (1977)

“I remember getting that vinyl when I was maybe 8 years old. It just opened up everything to me. That was definitely the album that showed me that there was different music out there, and I'm still really grateful for that moment in my life. It's a true sign of American parents, not knowing what the fuck [bollocks] meant.”

2. Beastie Boys – Paul's Boutique (1989)

"My whole music upbringing was mixed between hardcore and metal, and hip-hop"

“I thought that was incredibly fresh and innovative, and didn't necessarily conform to any norms as far as their song structures. What the Beastie Boys were doing in those early days was really fresh, and that band holds a special place in my heart.

“My whole music upbringing was mixed between hardcore and metal, and hip-hop. To me those two genres go hand-in-hand, they're both very extreme forms of music and all about energy and expression. That to me is what music is all about. It's something you can feel. 

"Mark [Morton, Lamb Of God guitarist] can verbalise that bounce and feel in a song really well, and that's something tangible you can hear. But it's definitely about feeling it, and that feeling supersedes any kind of genre. Hip-hop has certainly played a huge role in writing and creating songs – you feel it, it's all about that groove.”

3. Corrosion Of Conformity – Eye For An Eye (1984)

"That tape opened up my eyes to extreme music"

“I would draw that skull on every single notebook I had in school. That tape opened up my eyes to extreme music. I remember the songs being so short and I thought 'Holy shit what is going on? This is fucking crazy!' And I loved it. 

"It was like an audio punch in the face. I just loved the don't give a fuck attitude. The album represents the feeling of music and to do what you feel – if you're writing songs and you're not feeling it how do you expect someone else to feel it?”

4. Das EFX – Dead Serious (1992)

“I fucking love Das EFX. It was real dirty. I was listening to Das EFX before NWA, and for me it was that New York version of what NWA was doing. It was just real dirty, street and kind of scary!”

5. Metallica – …And Justice For All (1988)

"That to me is an epic of an album, and what's bittersweet is that it set me up even more so to be disappointed when the Black Album came out"

“That's got to be in there. I loved that album so much: I loved the poor production on it; I loved how compressed everything was; I loved that the kick drums sounded like you'd taped a quarter to it; I loved that they weren't afraid to write seven-minute songs. That to me is an epic of an album, and what's bittersweet is that it set me up even more so to be disappointed when the Black Album came out.

“When we toured with Metallica I didn't say anything! I just said 'Thanks guys for having us out'. And the older I get I think 'Who am I to share my disappointment?' That's where they were in their career, that's what they wanted to do and they made a shit-ton of money doing it. But the 12-year-old me was like 'Waaah!'

“I remember learning One over and over again. I called my friend, putting my parents' rotary phone on the floor and playing the intro to One and saying 'See dude, I can play it!'”

6. Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1972)

“I got into that later in my teenage years. But again he's another songwriter with such feeling that you can taste it. You feel how sad he is. And if music can ever be quiet, that's what Nick Drake is to me, just solemn quiet.

“Stuff like Nick Drake definitely shows through in how we write: the movements, how we approach our instruments, how we approach creating a song. To us a song should create a mood and tell a story if it can, to allow you to live in that space for a while.”

7. Slayer – Reign In Blood (1986)

“I love South Of Heaven and Seasons In The Abyss, but Reign In Blood was the first one that made me go 'This music is evil!' It scared me. Any kind of emotive response that music can get out of me I'll take time listening to it, because it's something special and it grabs me.”

8. Stanley Clarke – Children Of Forever (1973)

“This came around the same time as Nick Drake during my late teenage years. I loved how intricate it was, and again it's music that creates an atmosphere and tells a story. It just blew me away.

“I never actually learned any jazz scales or modes or anything. I love jazz, I love listening to it and the mood it creates, but it does not supersede into my playing.”

9. 7 Seconds – Walk Together, Rock Together (1985)

“I don't know if it's anything about 7 Seconds over other hardcore bands in particular, other than it's the tape I had and I wore the fuck out of it. I had to buy multiple cassettes of it because I would just wear it out, wear it out, wear it out. I thought the song  was so catchy when I was 12 or 13, and just remember listening to it so much on my Walkman when I went on road trips with my parents.”

10. Agnostic Front – Victim In Pain (1984)

“I had one buddy whose older brother who had everything I had never heard of. He was the guy who played me the first Vio-lence and Kreator records and all these crazy bands that had never crossed my radar. And that's how I got into Agnostic Front. 

"The cover art was brutal and the title-track was so brutal. I could just feel the tension on that record and how just how hard those dudes were. I've got those hardcore bones in me, and there's a few Lamb Of God songs that can attest to that.”

Live In Richmond, VA is out on 26 March through Nuclear Blast. For preorders visit lambofgod.lnk.to