The one word I will use to describe the new Lamb of God documentary, As the Palaces Burn, would be the same word I would use to describe the band's music…heavy. Of course, I mean it in a different sense.
I covered the trial from the moment Blythe was arrested in August, 2012. Immediately, there was a lot of confusion and misinformation spread around, mostly due to the language barrier. Blythe's trial was only being covered by Czech papers, and with limited resources, I and many other metal journalists were forced to use online translation tools to make sense of it all. This film does an incredible job of filling in all the blanks and providing the true version of the story.
The film begins with a profile on the band and a look at a male fan in Colombia and a female fan in India discussing the impact the band's music had on them. I love seeing stories of metal's reach around the globe, so this part was exciting to me. We also see Lamb of God travel through Europe and the massive crowds they play through. About 40 minutes into the film is when we get into the "meat" of the story as the film kicks into its second act. We do not see Randy getting arrested, but we get a first-hand account from the rest of the band of what exactly happened.
While the band kept relatively quiet during the trial, their emotions pour out in this documentary. The film follows the remaining four members as Randy was trying to get free on bail, showing what a whirlwind the entire ordeal was. The cameras were there every step of the way. They followed the band as they looked for items to auction to help pay for legal funds. They were there as the band greeted their frontman at the airport when he was finally cleared on bail, and it was an emotional moment for the band and this viewer. We see the first Lamb of God show back, at Knotfest and how emotional it was for Blythe to be back on stage.
Finally, we get to the trial and the cameras captured an incredible amount of footage. We get a peek into the meetings held by Randy's lawyers working on their case and how they prepared Randy. We see inside the courtroom. Randy gives honest testimonials about how he fears for his freedom. Certain witnesses were not shown, only heard, but it is an incredible look at the scary trial process. It's an incredible amount of insight into one of the biggest metal stories of the last decade.
The most revealing part of the trial occured when a fan stepped forward as the man in the video who most assumed was the fallen fan, Daniel Nosek, was actually another fan who was on the stand and came to Randy's defense. It's an incredible turn in the trial that shifted the conversation dramatically.
We also see the heartbreaking final statement from the uncle of Daniel Nosek that shook me to my core. He gave a powerful speech where he stated Randy ultimately was not fully responsible but that doesn't stop the hurt his family has felt. The cameras captured Blythe's heartfelt closing statement, and the uncertainty that he and his lawyers showed for him to be fully exonerated.
One of the most powerful moments in the movie is when the the verdict was read. Initially, Blythe shows confusion as the lanuage barrier seemingly made it hard to grasp what the exact verdict is, but then his lawyer leans over and tells Randy the good news. The exact moment where Blythe learns he's exonerated is made even more powerful by the excellent score by Lamb of God guitarist and composer Mark Morton.
So the big question here is should you see this movie? If you followed this trial, you need to see this. If you are a Lamb of God fan, you absolutely need to see this. This trial is something that will be talked about for quite a while and this is the most definitive recounting of the entire ordeal told by the band who lived it. It gives you an incredibly honest look inside the world of the band and the insane rollercoaster ride the band and the family of Daniel Nosek went through.
Lamb of God's As the Palaces Burn premieres this Sunday in Philadelphia, with screenings all over the world. Visit asthepalacesburn.com for a full listing of theaters and showtimes.