'Walk with me in hell' :- possibly the most apt song to self-associate with Randy's trial.
'As The Palaces Burn' (released in cinemas 6th March 2014) tells the background story of how Lamb of God started off as an up and coming metal band in the depths of Richmond, Virginia and became one of the most successful metal bands within the last two decades; celebrating 20 years this year, furthermore it goes behind the scenes during the Randy Blythe manslaughter trial in Prague, Czech Republic.
During the film, there is this constant feeling of being connected with not only Randy Blythe, but with Lamb of God in general. That is, what challenges they faced throughout their career, from the constant drinking and internal conflicts (ironically strengthened them to play shows) to the traveling to far flung countries and of course ultimately the emotions expressed during the trial.
Kicking the film off, Randy Blythe delivers a passage at one of his favorite places before shifting to the band's recording studio and expressing the glorious fact that their album 'Resolution' charted #3 on the Billboard charts, that in itself seems to show that this was one emotional album, furthermore fans will have noticed that the tracks also correlate to the personal journey Randy has gone through.
Musician Slash (ex-Guns 'N' Roses') willingly admits that whilst Lamb of God are not a household name by any means, unlike your Iron Maiden and Slayer, they are still a highly popular band, one that successfully enables listeners to engage with the music, resulting in this release of built up emotions.
The film takes a look at how they set out, showing stock footage from a show way back in 1997, progressively showing that they took a natural and dedicated approach to their musical career, continually and progressively taking newer challenges head on.
"Real metalheads drive (Toyota) Prius', not first class' :- Chris Adler
The emphasis then shifts to the band's time in South America; where they show what the settlements are like and what their fellow metalhead brethren grow up in, firstly in Colombia where they show that metal is used to release emotions, with Randy admitting that when he stands at sees a kid in the crowd, he says that's me; reflecting back on that emotional connection between the band and the fans.
One Colombian metal fan believes that you can identify yourself with the music and lyrics respectively. Whilst later on during a Lamb of God show has Randy agreeing with him that it is: "not a good idea to tie up your shows in the middle of a mosh-pit.
The film then shifts towards Venezuela, Mexico and then Israel, the sense that not only is Lamb of God an internationally recognized metal band, but in tow with that comes the clear fact just how global metal music in general has become. However, it was during the time in Israel that you begin to see that Randy was at some points a bit of a demon of himself through his unrelenting drinking habits, eventually leading the nervous breakdown and made him sort his life out for the better.
"Resolution represents staying on a path of correcting your issues and solving them"
The band then head to India where at a concert they are playing at, fellow Indian metalheads express how long it took them to get to the concert, some taking as long as 39 hours to get there. Now that is extreme dedication. The band then head to the Czech Republic, however....
Police are on Lamb of God's Lufthansa flight which just landed in Prague, some of the bandmembers expressed their worries that on board could be a drug dealer, or something worse and then as soon as they started disembarking, the police escorted them; leaving the band with a sick feeling (flashes to a Czech gig at Club Abaton in 2010), which gotten worse as they arrest Randy for suspicions of manslaughter, of which came as the result of Daniel Nosek apparently dying from a head injury at the concert; Randy accused of shoving him off stage and crashing head first into a barricade.
Meanwhile back in Voorhees, the band's manager Larry Mazer is adamant that nothing happened, there was no incident that took place and argued that two hours later police called the promoter who had already gone home, they then want to know the band's whereabouts and during the two years afterwards, nothing has been spoken of this incident. Whilst this was happening, Randy was formally charged with manslaughter, an accusation he persistently denied.
Moreover during the time spent in court, the initial ball of $200,000 was upped to $400,000, despite the claims by Marin Radnan; Randy's Czech attorney, of him being innocent whilst Lamb of God's US attorney believes he will face charges, during this part of the film various evidence is shown and given. He is eventually released from prison 38 days after his arrest but has to return to face his forthcoming trial; meanwhile back in the USA a social campaign had began, wanting Randy's release to happen as soon as possible.
During the brief period between the release and trial, Lamb of God performed at Slipknot Festival and promised to give the fans 'hell'. Randy admitted that he wanted this film to originally be about the fans and to turn the cameras towards them, not at the band all the time.
3 months later and Randy returned to Prague to face his trial, his Czech defense team set out the task of building up an argument against his accusation. Unlike the British system, the Czech court has 3 judges and no jury; to the judge's left is the prosecutor and to his right is the defense team and the defendant: Randy Blythe.
"Sometimes doing the right thing, is not the most comfortable" :- Randy Blythe
It comes to be that there was no evidence to show any altercation between Randy Blythe and Daniel Nosek, the trial fell into a state of chaos as various witness statements flitted about from being contradictory or appearing to be confusing. Resulting in Randy being totally exonerated from any charges. The closing scenes involve the band back at practice and inevitably feeling stronger from the ordeal Randy had faced, Lamb of God will motor on, stronger than ever.
If one Lamb of God song could sum up the entire documentary, it would be 'Walk with me in hell', as this is what they have successfully shown to their fans. Here's hoping this gets released as a DVD.
Angola, one of the Portuguese speaking nations of the African continent and host to one of the most bloodiest wars seen in this countries history. What director Jeremy Xido has done has taken then dark past of this African nation and shown it in a light the general public would not look Angola in, a light that consists of one music: Heavy Metal. The sheer brilliance behind this work of art comes in partnership with two key figures in the Angolan Metal scene Sonia Ferreira and Wilker Flores, who run the Okutiuka orphanage in the war-ravaged city of Huambo and set on a path and dreams to mount the first-ever national rock concert.
In recent years Angola has become an honored metal music nation, with bands like Before Crush taking their place in history and shaping their future before them. The documentary takes you apart, it makes you realize what the Angolans went through and what the metal musicians are fighting for otherwise not proving to be problematic in western society. As many viewers will noticed when Before Crush band practice / play the songs in the film, you will notice that they are ingeniously referring to the past war and how it has affected their society, ideally singing as such that they recognize each other as brothers, fighting for stability, peace, freedom and most importantly their lives.
In some respect although most of the African continent is dogged by corruption, poverty, poor sanity and poor standards of living, the Angolan metal scene somehow ironically proves wrong otherwise, as such seeing musicians afford such luxuries as striking electric guitars, but the salient point is it seen as a musical revolution and revolution towards more gratified unification. It seems that the Angolan musicians themselves have come such a long way to get where they are and it goes to prove that if you have dreams, you can build on those dreams to develop and produce something that can be as revolutionary as new technology or as symbolic as being united under one banner, Heavy Metal.
Because Huambo's culture disappeared after the war, it seems that the conflict wiped the settlements identity, but what this documentary symbolically instates is a new modern identity, that said given the radio programme "Volume 10" on Luanda's radio station 96.5FM has been playing rock music ever since 1995, really asks the question, how did rock and metal music arrive in Angola and as it approaches its 20 years existence, much has changed in the music scene. Prior to the war, the documentary states that the music has been coming and going, much like the Namibian metal scene in modern times, but as the war finished bands were getting heavier and far more brutal and as fellow Angolan Yuri Almeida made a blog about Angolan rock music, this is seen as the point where one could say Angola become an integrated network for today's modern musicians.
Yuri is also the founder of the Angolan Association of Rock, so perhaps the western society during the 90's might have underestimated some goings on in the African nation. Sonia Ferreira believes that rock music can heal the distraught and saddened people of Angola and so it seems that rock music is steadily becoming part of their cultural identity. Playing Death Metal seems to transmit some positive energy to the listeners and as such gives them belief. What the unique point about the documentary is, is the troubled journey to setting up the first rock/metal festival in Angola's history, something that many westerners don't seem to apprehend, in that they accept metal for what it is, but for Angolans its about channeling their feelings, as if they are fighting for something more than music and it is this reason to why global metal fans should pay more attention to these bands who are fighting for something they believe in, not believing in becoming international superstars. Wilker Flores states that he is more interested in rock music than money, so from that it would seem that he feels rock music has no financial valuation on it but rather a value of its own kind, the value might be correlated to the freedom that is being pushed for.
As far as the preparations for the festival were concerned, the bands travelled from all across different parts of Angola, via bus and other modes of transport, this is rock and roll at it's very core, no fancy coaches, no jetting about, basic and well organized transportation. That said it seems that society in Angola is very lapse-daisy, as Wilker stated that everything arrives late in Angola, well to the extent of Luanda, the capital, because of the hefty traffic and congestion brought with it, he said that was justifiable. But it gets worse! The festival gets delayed by two hours and that was down to a technical fault and the worse thing was that the guy who owned it was not there anymore, finally after 5 hours before the scheduled time the festival kicks off, this started at 11pm - in the UK festivals would finish just before midnight.
The line-up featured bands such as Dor Fantasma, the Deathcore group Before Crush, Black Soul, Nothing To Lost, Neblina, Instinto Primario, Fios Electrico, Amnesia, Dos Anjos, Singra, Mental Grave, Last Prayer and Paralelo State. But the soul point is bringing a whole unit of rock and metal fans to one place to unite and build on bringing this beloved music to the masses, miraculously a year later the festival happens again and gets covered by media, asking the fans what they think of the festival, one claiming that they thought it would never catch on in Huambo. The festival is now known in it's Portuguese translation of 'Rock will never die', true to it's meaning its growing and will continue to grow as demand grows for it and as rock and metal has spread internationally, it will conquer and begin to breed in every country it touches, meaning that the Angolan rock and metal scene has developed from a dream to evidential reality and with the Huambo 'rock will never die' festival giving the country hope, Angola will in years to come become an internationally recognised rock and metal scene.
Directed by Jeremy Xido
Produced by Joseph Castelo
Executive Producer: David Callagher
Photography Director: Johan Legraie
Editor: Todd Holmes
Original Score: Christian Frederickson
Art & Animation: Molly Schwartz
Sound Recorder: Oswald Juliana
Sound Design & Mix: Timothy Bright
Written by Rhys Stevenson