Why Lamb of God Changed Their Name

When we talk about the band Lamb of God, it’s easy to picture their heavy riffs and intense stage presence. But there’s an interesting backstory to this band that many might not know. Once upon a time, Lamb of God went by a different name – Burn the Priest.

Two candid shots from a 1997 concert of Burn the Priest, with Randy Blythe performing. In the left image, Randy is in the foreground, intensely singing into a microphone with one hand on his hip, sporting patterned shorts. The right image shows Randy again singing into the microphone, this time with audience members in view, one raising his fist in the air and others blurred in the background, indicating movement and the lively atmosphere of the event.
Burn the Priest (1997)
Key Takeaways
  • Lamb of God, initially known as Burn the Priest, changed their name to better align with their evolving musical identity and to avoid misconceptions.
  • The original name suggested a satanic metal band, which didn’t reflect the band’s true musical style or ideology.
  • The name change to Lamb of God opened opportunities for broader audience appeal.

A Look at Their Time as Burn the Priest

Diving into the origins of Lamb of God, it’s interesting to note that they began their musical journey with a different name: Burn the Priest. This early period in their career is crucial for understanding the band’s development and the changes they underwent both musically and in terms of their identity.

The band, under the name Burn the Priest, released a self-titled album on April 4, 1999. This release, distributed by Legion Records, marked their first major step into the music scene. Recorded in November 1998, the album captures the band’s initial sound and style, distinct from what they later became known for as Lamb of God.

This album is particularly notable because it was the only one released under the Burn the Priest name. It also remains unique in the band’s history as the only album featuring guitarist Abe Spear. Tracks like “Bloodletting,” “Dimera,” “Resurrection #9,” and “Goatfish” provide a glimpse into the band’s early musical approach, characterized by a raw and intense style.

The transition from Burn the Priest to Lamb of God signifies more than just a name change. It marks a period of evolution in their music and thematic focus.

The Burn the Priest era forms an essential part of Lamb of God’s history. This phase, while brief, was a formative period for the band, laying the groundwork for their future direction and success.

Beyond a Name Change

When Willie Adler stepped in to replace guitarist Abe Spear, the band not only saw changes in their lineup but also in their musical trajectory. This pivotal moment played a significant role in their decision to shed the name Burn the Priest and adopt the now-famous moniker, Lamb of God.

Transitioning from Burn the Priest to Lamb of God was more than a name change; it represented a profound shift in the band’s identity and musical journey.

The original name, “Burn the Priest,” carried with it a heavy dose of misconception. It evoked images of a satanic or black metal band, a label that didn’t quite fit with what the band was about musically or ideologically. This misalignment was more than just a superficial issue; it was a thorn in the side of their artistic expression and public perception.

Choosing “Lamb of God” as their new name was a strategic move, designed to sidestep controversy and potential career limitations that came with their former name. While still carrying religious overtones, Lamb of God struck a less provocative chord, opening the doors to a broader audience and smoothing out the rough edges of misconception.

Founding drummer Chris Adler weighed in on this, acknowledging that while “Burn the Priest” did a great job at drawing attention, it also pigeonholed them into associations with black metal. This labeling was seen as a barrier to their musical exploration and growth, limiting the band’s potential to evolve within the diverse landscape of metal music.

Bassist John Campbell echoed similar sentiments, pointing out that the original name often led people to misjudge the band as a satanic metal act. This misunderstanding was detrimental to their credibility and seriousness in the music industry. The name change was a calculated effort to reshape this perception, steering the band towards a more accurate representation of their music and ethos.

Vocalist Randy Blythe observed a significant difference in the band’s output and approach under the two names. He likened it to the existence of two distinct bands within the same entity, each with its own character and musical direction. This observation underscores the profound impact that a name can have on a band’s identity and the perception of their music.

The transition from Burn the Priest to Lamb of God was more than just rebranding; it was a rebirth. It marked a turning point where the band not only changed their name but also refined their musical identity, broke free from misconceptions, and set the stage for a broader and more inclusive appeal.