In a studio somewhere in New York City, Chris Adler is tracking drums for the forthcoming Lamb of God record, as well as two songs for the upcoming Testament album. He’s working with Josh Wilbur, the baby-faced producer who helmed the band’s previous studio offering, 2009’s Wrath.
Adler drove up to Manhattan from Virginia in a U-Haul, loaded up with his massive drum kit. The man uses 16 cymbals. That’s a lot. Through the entire trek up I-95, he listened to demos of the new album, and by my visit last week, had tracked drums for six songs.
Adler — who is still living off a steady regiment of ice cream and…well, ice cream — and Wilbur are working a steady schedule, putting in 13 hour-days, working from 11 a.m. to midnight. There are laptop computers splayed all over the place. Wilbur’s dog is a regular fixture here, making the atmosphere and vibe of the studio relaxed and laid-back. But there is work to be done. Through this coming Wednesday, Adler and Wilbur will be working together, making sure the drums are just right for the new album. From what Gun Shy Assassin heard during our studio visit, Lamb of God’s new material is severely brutal. Adler’s drum work invaded my brain for days after; the infectious beats, playing over and over in my head. And the riffs I heard were daring and delectable; true ear candy for any proper metal fan.
Alas, none of those demo tracks had vocals on them. That said, you can actually watch Chris at work over at SkullsNBones, where they’ve been streaming Chris from the studio. It was amazing watching Adler work, but also, seeing Josh do his thing was amazing. You get the sense that no one has this new material memorized more than he does, and he has an amazing rapport with Chris. At one point, they started discussing the potential for a new endorsement for Adler: Nestles Ice Cream.
“They have the Drumstick dude, how can you not get that sponsorship,” joked Wilbur. “That would be the shit.” They share a laugh, and then, it’s back to the music.
After finishing one tune, right before my very eyes [Edit: I can’t help but feel like I witnessed metal history, and now, will have a fond, personal appreciation of this song when the album comes out, which is awesome], I sat down with Chris in the studio for a chat.
“We took a whole day, just setting up, just getting sounds,” Adler tells Gun Shy Assassin; he’s been in the studio since early last week. “Just to make sure that everything sounds as good if not better than our last record.”
The next Lamb of God will be far from a rush job. In fact, the album is not due until October, and will likely be out in early 2012.
“There’s this real weird line that, when we did the first couple of albums, I had one day to record everything, I had to be super prepared, know exactly what I was going to do,” explains Adler. “That made for some really cool stuff, and some really heavy pressure that we performed well as a band under. Now, we have this luxury of time, which can be a demon in itself, because you’re always second guessing, you’re always like, ‘Well, I can just do it again tomorrow’ or ‘I can come up with something different.’ You need to know how to balance what’s natural and what feels like you’re just doing it because you can, because then it’s fake.”
I had to ask Chris about his upcoming work with Testament; the band lost their drummer, and had originally wanted Adler to play on their entire album. But because Chris is working on the Lamb of God record, it didn’t work out; Testmant is recording the disc with Gene Hoglan, and Adler will do drums for two tracks.
“They just sent me the first song, so we’re going to do that while we’re set up here,” he says. “I haven’t had time to sit down and learn the tune, but they have programmed drums on it. I guess Gene is doing the rest of the record, which is amazing. When I first started talking to Eric [Peterson], they had me going out there, sitting with them, and figuring out the whole thing. They said they might do it with Gene, and I was like, ‘If you can get Gene, don’t bother with me. He’s the king.’”
What did Adler think of the tune?
“It’s great. It sounds a lot like the stuff on The New Order. I still have that vinyl. Definitely my favorite Testament record. This one’s kind of in seven and it sounds like old Testament. It’s super old school, and real thrashy. It’s definitely very heavy. It’s different than what we’re doing. They’re sticking to their guns: San Francisco thrash. To me, it’s a different kind of challenge. I wanted to do the whole record, but at least I get to do two.”
More to come next week.
Chris Adler is the drummer for Grammy-nominated metal band Lamb of God and the author of the book “The Making of Lamb of God’s New American Gospel,” a comprehensive behind-the-scenes narrative book detailing the early days of Lamb of God and the writing and recording of their New American Gospel LP. Anything else you need to know about Chris Adler, you can find at his web site, Chris-Adler.com.