LAMB OF GOD frontman Randy Blythe was forced to miss the band's concert Tuesday night (April 19) in Grand Rapids, Michigan after testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Filling in for him at the gig were singers of two of the groups who are currently on tour with LAMB OF GOD, TRIVIUM's Matt Heafy and IN FLAMES' Anders Fridén, as well as Mark Hunter of CHIMAIRA, which supported LAMB OF GOD on a U.S. tour back in 2003. Fan-filmed video of the concert is available below.
After the gig, Hunter shared several photos from backstage and soundcheck, and he included the following message: "I had the honor of singing for LAMB OF GOD tonight. @drandallblythe was unavailable due to having COVID. It was an absolute honor and I'm extremely grateful they thought of me. Get better soon, Randy!!"
Several hours before last night's show, Blythe released the following statement via social media: "After two years, the 'rona finally got me. Regrettably, the symptoms of COVID look pretty much exactly like regular tour life for me- achey/sore throat/headache (I'm 51 years old, I scream & jump around like a maniac to very loud music for over an hour each night, so of course I ache & have a sore throat & a headache- that's just called 'tour'), so I thought what I was feeling was just normal. However, after my throat got worse, just to be safe I took a test, & it popped up positive. I IMMEDIATELY isolated myself from my band & all other humans, contacted anyone I had been near to let them know, & will continue to isolate until I am no longer contagious."
He continued: "This is the correct, ethical thing to do- what feels like a really bad cold to me could mean something very, very different to an immuno-compromised person who is unable to be vaccinated like I am, or an elderly person. I am already feeling better, but in order to protect my band, our fans, and the health of the tour, I have to miss tonight's show. This sucks, but it's the cost of doing business these days. Our old friend Mark Hunter of CHIMAIRA fame will return to the stage & fill in for me tonight- thank you, Mark, you're a solid dude & I know you will kill it! I only wish I could be there to see it! I hope to be back onstage later this week.
"Thanks for your understanding in advance- this is nothing I wanted to happen, but I am doing my best to do the right thing here."
LAMB OF GOD is currently on the road in North America with MEGADETH, TRIVIUM and IN FLAMES as part of what is being called "The Metal Tour Of The Year".
Last October, Blythe urged everyone coming to see his band perform to get vaccinated against COVID-19. "I believe in fucking science," he said during an appearance on MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn's "No Fuckin' Regrets With Robb Flynn" podcast. "And I have friends who are doctors and scientists and nurses, and these are people I'm going to listen to — not someone on social media, not another musician, not a talking head on CNN, Fox News, USA Today, PBS; none of this stuff. I talk to my friends who are molecular biologists, immunologists, emergency room doctors, and I have friends who are nurses, one of whom works in a COVID ward — and someone very close to me. These are not my friends' neighbors' second cousin's buddy [saying], 'I heard this or that or the other'; these are people who are friends of mine I talk to directly. They're, like, 'This is real. This is the science. This is the data. This is what I see. These are the people I see dying.' So I'm going to listen to my friends 'cause they're a lot smarter than me.
"For me, everybody has to quote-unquote do their own research, I guess," he laughed. "My research involves talking to friends of mine who spent years of their lives pursuing degrees that cost them thousands and thousands of dollars, or who dedicate their lives to the service of others in the medical profession. And this is what these people are telling me. So I don't have to filter through all this data, through all these different media sources; I just talk to my friends. 'Are you vaccinated?' 'Yes.' 'Tell me about this vaccine. Tell me about the technology.' And I've had these conversations.
"When the vaccine came out very rapidly, comparatively, like anyone else, I was, like, 'Well, that's quick,'" Randy admitted. "But then some friends of mine explained to me, 'This is old technology. They've been working on this for 15 fucking years. It's not new. So cut it out with that.' And also, this is not just an American or one country's or one corporation's push; this is a massive international effort to get this vaccine ready — different ones ready — for distribution.
"I have a friend who works in intelligence — pretty high-level intelligence — and one of their jobs right now is helping out with COVAX, which is the international vaccine distribution arm. And he [was] talking to one of his co-workers from COVAX, and it was just, like, it's very frustrating with certain places where the vaccine is available and people don't wanna take it, and there are countries that are begging for it.
"All that aside, for me, like I said, it's a matter of talking to my friends and being, like, 'What's the deal with this?'" Blythe added. "Because these are people I trust, and they're a lot smarter than me… So I'm going to listen to them — I'm just gonna."
LAMB OF GOD's latest, self-titled album was released in June 2020 via Epic Records in the U.S. and Nuclear Blast Records in Europe. The follow-up to "VII: Sturm Und Drang" marked LAMB OF GOD's first recordings with Art Cruz, who joined the band in July 2019 as the replacement for the group's founding drummer, Chris Adler.
"Lamb Of God" was recorded with longtime producer Josh Wilbur (KORN, MEGADETH, GOJIRA, TRIVIUM) and includes special guest appearances by Jamey Jasta (HATEBREED) and Chuck Billy (TESTAMENT).