“I just liked the idea of turning the camera away from me,” says Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe. What started as a homage to their fans and the universality of music takes a dark turn, but As The Palaces Burn remains fascinating from start to finish.
We start with Randy talking about the impact of music – it’s powerful, “the only reason why [he’s] not in prison or dead”, and stopped him feeling alone as a child. It’s the highest compliment a fan can give the band, to say that their music does the same.
You’ll meet Oscar, the Columbian taxi driver and heavy metal fan, whose friends and family have died through drug gangs. And Pratika, an Indian girl who won’t conform to her traditional culture. Black-clad, tattooed, she fronts a heavy metal band with a mighty scream. They buck preconceptions of the heavy metal fan and, without ruining their story, will raise a smile as they talk about how they’re connected to the music.
It’s a very human setting, from the ecstasy of a live show in a foreign land, to seeing your favourite metallers having a barbeque and playing basketball with their children. The ability of music to connect people across the world is explored, and will evoke a twang of that common feeling – when you’re at your favourite band’s show and you realise, Fuck, this is amazing.
But the tone then changes as they arrive in the Czech Republic. Knowing the film will document Randy’s manslaughter charge doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the detail of it – you’ll follow the band at home anxiously awaiting news, footage from the show, Randy talking to his lawyers and preparing answers – you’ll even see in-trial footage, with a particularly harrowing moment from the fan’s Uncle.
By this point, it’s morbidly fascinating in the way that trials can be, but more importantly, it’s real: the band talk about the worst part being a fan of theirs died. There’s heavy hearts and unending respect to their fans, opening them up more than even they thought the film would.
There’s a duality to the documentary, but it comes full circle. Star interviewees sing the band’s praises, from Slash to Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, and the story ends with a hopeful glint of the future. They faced the prospect of losing Lamb of God, but now they have it all ahead of them again.
This is a must-see for any LoG fan, but more importantly, it comes highly recommended to anyone who has ever felt a powerful connection to music. The trial process itself is interesting, but the fan stories and footage will certainly bring a knowing smile to your face.
As The Palaces Burn will be playing in cinemas across the country on March 6th. Do not miss the opportunity. You can view where it’s playing here.