What started out as a film to turn the cameras away from the five members of Lamb Of God and put the spotlight on the fans, as well as documenting Randy Blythe’s new found sobriety; ended up with the cameras switching drastically back in the direction of Lamb Of God.
‘As The Palaces Burn’ starts out as the film was originally pitched. With the band heading out on tour, the documentary focuses on the fans in far flung countries such as India. Tales of individuals travelling for 2 days just to get to a Lamb Of God show will probably raise eyebrows outside the world of Heavy Metal. For the majority of the audience for this film however it only goes to confirm what we already know; that metal fans are the most passionate and dedicated out there.
That in itself would have been a worthy watch, but the events that unfolded just as the cameras stopped rolling on the documentary were always going to be a bigger talking point.
Anyone with a remote interest in metal, Lamb Of God fan or not, will already know the outline of the story. It isn’t really a spoiler to say at the end of the film Randy is exonerated of manslaughter of one of his fans at a Prague concert two years before the trial. It was headline news…
It isn’t the ‘story’ that makes this film a fascinating watch, however. The documentary doesn’t become a CSI style breakdown of events. Director, Don Argott, peels below that and focuses on the confusion, chaos and ultimately the deep sadness of the situation as Randy faced charges for an incident he knew absolutely nothing about.
While the ‘Free Randy Blythe’ campaign quickly picked up momentum, the film unveils the conflicting emotions involved. While friends, family and band members were desperate to get Randy home; the underlying feeling of hurt that a member of the bands audience had died at one of their shows was only too evident. Tears are shed on camera and it’s something that won’t go away with a simple “Not Guilty” verdict.
Ultimately, it’s the conduct of David Randall Blythe throughout this nightmare scenario that makes this documentary a must watch and an inspirational document. Having posted bail and eventually allowed to return home it would have been all too easy to protest that the Czech police had it in for him and to stay well away from the country forevermore.
Instead, although he was sure that he would be spending some amount of time in prison, he returned to give his side of the story. The unglamorous Prague courts only went to confirm the grim state of affairs he was facing, but the way in which he handled the situation from start to finish can only be described as completely honourable.
“Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always the most comfortable thing…”
‘As The Palaces Burn’ goes deep into the raw emotions of a band in turmoil whilst remaining respectful to the main issue at hand; the death of a Lamb Of God fan. Randy blows away the stereotypical image of the brain-dead metal musician and instead provides the viewer with a charismatic but humble frontman. Randy becomes an inspiration and a worthy role model against all the expectations from the outside world.
‘As The Palaces Burn’ screens at cinemas across the UK on March 6th, find out where here!