One of the things I took away from the new LAMB OF GOD feature film As the Palaces Burn is the fact that you don’t necessarily have to be a fan of this band to enjoy it. I happen to be a big fan, and I found it at times funny, sad, thought-proving and heartbreaking. And I felt all of these emotions in just 90 minutes. Director Don Argott and the band set out to make something that documented the fans and their stories more than taking a look at what goes on behind the scenes of an album/tour cycle, something we’ve all seen a million times now. And for the first half of the film, that’s exactly what we get. But we also see inside the machine and how that machine came very close to breaking down due to Randy Blythe’s drinking. Drummer Chris Adler, guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, and bassist John Campbell are all seen at one time or another either yelling at Randy to “Calm the fuck down!”, or speaking quite candidly about what a nightmare he was to be around before he got sober roughly two years before filming started.
Along the way we meet two fans who have been truly touched by the band’s music. One is a cab driver in Medellin, Colombia who upon meeting the group after a show gets to tell them how much they mean to him. The subsequent exchange brings one member to tears which made me happy because I AM that fan and given the opportunity I would tell my favorite band the same thing. The other is a young lady in Mumbai, India, herself a death metal vocalist and as we see her in a cab headed to the show she is quite literally bouncing off the walls with excitement. Later we see her in the front row, screaming along to every word.
And then…Prague happens. Upon landing there in 2012 Randy Blythe is whisked away to prison on some nonsensical manslaughter charges stemming from the death of fan Daniel Nosek in an apparent stage-diving mishap after a show TWO YEARS AGO!! Adler says it best when he says, “”Things could not have shit the bed more.” From here the film takes a sharp left turn as we see the band’s manager Larry Mazer screaming frantically into the phone and their US attorney Jeff Cohen saying without saying that this is nothing more than a prosecutor trying to make a name for himself. We also get to see Randy’s bandmates auctioning off some of their most prized possessions in an attempt to raise funds for the mounting legal fees and wondering out loud if in fact, LAMB OF GOD has a future. During this very real and visceral part it’s ok to cry; I did.
But throughout everything Randy Blythe maintains a rather selfless persona. He is genuinely more concerned about the poor kid who died’s family than possibly having to spend 10 years in jail for a crime he is clearly innocent of. And he is also shaken to his very core knowing that a fan of HIS band is dead. I already liked him, but my respect level for the man shot up tenfold after seeing this movie. As I said earlier, you don’t have to be a fan of LAMB OF GOD, or metal music in general to appreciate As the Palaces Burn…you just have to be human. The film premieres on February 16, 2014 in Philadelphia, PA with a worldwide release starting February 27. I cannot recommend this one highly enough.