Why did Lamb of God change their band name from Burn the Priest back in 1999?

From the early days of the name swap, rumor persisted it was due to the metal act getting banned from venues for the overtly blasphemous original name, as author Jon Wiederhorn remembered when writing about Lamb of God's debut album, 1999's (then self-titled) Burn the Priest.

But, in actuality, that wasn't why the band stopped using Burn the Priest and became Lamb of God, according to the band members themselves. It had more to do with their metamorphosis as a performing unit — not to mention a way for the group to shed growing subgenre misclassifications as they continued to gain more notice.

READ MORE: 13 Hard Rock + Metal Artists That Got Banned From Different Countries

Because, let's face it, if you had just heard the name Burn the Priest, what kind of band would you think it is? Several people thought they were satanic or black metal, and the outfit wanted to avoid that. Plus, at the time, they had just recruited guitarist Willie Adler after parting ways with early guitarist Abe Spear — they wanted to signify that change.

Of course, as diehard LoG fans know, Lamb of God did get banned from places, but that came later, as bassist John Campbell recalled in a 2012 Metalship interview. "We changed our name originally because people thought that we were a satanic metal band and just wrote us off and wouldn't take us seriously," he said. And he's not the only Lamb of God member (or ex-member) who's spoken about it.

John Campbell LoG Interview - 2012

Why Did Lamb of God Change Their Name?

"There are two things, in my mind, for the name change," founding drummer Chris Adler told RoughEdge.com in a November 2000 interview. "First, towards the beginning of the change away from Burn the Priest, we got Will to replace a guitar player, and the band as a whole just took a huge step in momentum and what we were able to do."

The second thing? "[We] took a lot of flak for the name Burn the Priest," he said. "Having a controversial name probably helped us more than it hurt us. But it had taken on something that we never really intended. … We were classified or grouped together with a bunch of bands in black metal."

He added, "The band did not want to get backed into a corner that we couldn't get out of. We were moving through all kinds of music, and the name Burn the Priest was really hurting us. So we turned the name of the band on its head and made it a little less of a sledgehammer in the face of what we're all about."

Lamb of God
Photo by Travis Shinn

In the same interview, vocalist Randy Blythe concurred, "We really consider the Burn the Priest material and the Lamb of God material in very different ways, especially in the approach. Even though you can listen to the two records, it's almost like you're listening to two different bands."

So, in case you didn't know, now you do. Essentially, Lamb of God changed their name from Burn the Priest to avoid career-killing controversy and expand their audience. The name Burn the Priest was seen as potentially offensive and was limiting their opportunities. So they chose a new name that still had a religious connotation but was less likely to cause offense, allowing them to reach a broader audience and gain more recognition.

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Lamb of God, "Now You've Got Something to Die For" (Ashes of the Wake, 2004)

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