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Forum Uneasy About Band's Former Name

February 03, 2005|Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writer

A Forum performance by the heavy metal group Lamb of God has been canceled after the venue's owners, the Faithful Central Bible Church, learned that the band formerly went by the name Burn the Priest.

The April 9 show would have been a stop on the band's 43-city tour as one of several supporting acts for Slipknot, the cartoonish metal band that performs in gruesome masks and has songs such as "Pulse of the Maggots" and "Heretic Anthem." As of Wednesday, Slipknot and its Subliminal Verses tour will go on at the Forum in Inglewood as scheduled.

Lamb of God's members railed against their exclusion Wednesday. Drummer Chris Adler said in a statement, "The word from the powers that be is that Lamb of God is not the wholesome family fun that the good people of Los Angeles deserve."

Marc Little, chief operating officer for the church's business dealings, said that the operation walks a difficult line as a part-time player in the concert business.

"This is a building that is owned by a church, and we are sensitive to our congregation and to our obvious religious beliefs," Little said. "At the same time, we have to balance that with being a business. This is a band that was formerly known as Burn the Priest, so it's a fair assumption that some of the stuff they are singing may be antithetical to our beliefs."

The Forum was once the storied home court of the Los Angeles Lakers and a major hub for rock history, with bookings for Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. After the 1999 opening of the Staples Center downtown, the Forum appeared headed for demolition until Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, leader of Faithful Central, led his church in a fundraising campaign to buy it.

The Forum has pulled in some major acts in recent years, among them hard rock groups Metallica and Linkin Park, whose music might give a pastor pause. But Lamb of God's former name was apparently too religiously hostile to accept.

"The situation in L.A. can only be described as ridiculous," Adler said. "It's already been a huge waste of energy trying to turn this around. The powers that be aren't interested in budging -- or doing their research, apparently -- and we've never been a band to placate anyone to get our way, smooth things over or make anyone feel better."

Burn the Priest formed in 1990 at Virginia Commonwealth University and changed their stage name to Lamb of God soon after they released their self-titled album. Their follow-up album, "New American Gospel," was released in 2000. It included dark, thrashing songs with titles such as "In the Absence of the Sacred" and "The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion."

Karen Lewis, a spokeswoman for the church, said Wednesday that "this is not the first time" that the church's mission statement has affected a programming decision. However, she said, the decision to cancel Lamb of God's concert has received extra attention because it is part of a national tour.

The only other concert currently scheduled at the Forum is a March 23 appearance by Motley Crue, a reunited 1980s metal band whose album catalog includes "Shout at the Devil."

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