Let’s start from back to front and talk about the musical aspect of The Duke. It is difficult to capture and replicate the energy of life performances in recorded audio, but on this EP Lamb of God featured three live performed songs of their latest album Sturm Und Drang. The intention and frustration behind these songs is live more raw and capturing than it is on the album, especially on the live version of ‘512’. The second original song on this EP ‘Culling’ sounds like more classic Lamb of God; personally I find it very reminiscent of ‘Ghost Walking’. The splattered guitar parts fill out the contouring of the song, and it is another motivational song you can stick on your headphones when completing your chores.
Musically speaking, Sturm und Drang surprised (and probably offended) a lot of people, due to the fact that Lamb of God firstly used clean singing as a stylistic progression of their music. Randy Blythe hasn’t got a typical “pretty voice” and he is not trying to make it sound like that either, nor is he trying to sound menacing when he is singing clean. There is a heavy intent of honesty in his voice, and that is what makes a clean voice sound good in Heavy Metal, because this music genre arose from people trying to express and share the feelings we find almost impossible to express in day to day life (without getting into serious trouble). The Duke is another example for an attempt to deal with painful matters through music, for this EP is a homage to a dedicated fan, Wayne Ford, and it’s purpose is to raise awareness of leukaemia.
Wayne Ford died peacefully last year after he lost his battle with cancer of the blood. He befriended Randy Blythe in the last few years in his life, after he decided that he wants to spend his remaining time with integrity, instead of deluding himself and his close family and friends with false hopes. He was aware that this sickness is slowly fading his being, but he had the inspiring guts to great death like an old friend.
The clean singing on ‘The Duke’ sounds like a mantra of an undying truth. The song follows structure that is loyal to Lamb of God’s style, with their typical impelling drums that are like a merciless ticking of a clock. The lyrics are easy to knot between your ears. “Some of the lyrics for “The Duke” arose from things Wayne had said to me, others from a conversation I had with his wife, and some just from my own head”, Randy Blythe states on the band’s website. A nice little synchronicity he describes in the article is how the band decided to call the song ‘The Duke’ and only learning afterwards that Wayne’s father had named Wayne after an actor, who also happens to be known as “The Duke”.
The purpose of this release is to bring the reality of cancer into the peoples minds, and that people CAN help other people with this disease. Honest empathy and a foundational love for fellow human beings are crucial factors that are lacking in social life. Even if Metalheads state that we “hate everybody equally”, wasn’t it the awareness of this void that brought us here in the first place?
In the article, Randy Blythe referred a couple of websites that are helpful for the people and their relatives battling cancer. One of these is the research funding organisation The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, who also provide information and resources for patients. Furthermore, the frontman states that “100% of the funds generated from the charity auction I set up to coincide with this release will go to the LLS”.
Read more about Randy Blythes’ friendship with Wayne Ford and his thoughts after making this encounter on Lamb of God’s official website and for more Information on donating bone marrow, visit bethematch.org. Both Randy Blythe and his wife are on the Bone Marrow Registry, after leukaemia had cost the life of Lamb of God’s merchgirl and almost the life of Behemoth’s frontman and close friend, Nergal. Finding matches for bone marrow is even more difficult than finding blood matches. Help is needed, and anybody can get involved and make the crucial difference for more than one life.
© Overdrive, 2016