When director Don Argott first teamed with Lamb of God for a documentary, the idea was to profile fans of the Grammy-nominated heavy metal band in different countries during a 2012 tour. But when the band arrived in the Czech Republic late that June, frontman Randy Blythe was arrested:. He was accused of pushing a young fan who’d rushed the stage back into the audience at a show in Prague two years earlier – causing a head injury that later took the fan’s life. Keeping the cameras rolling required trust. “Don was there and filmed my wife coming to visit me, but he wound up not using that and not really filming that much, because he felt it was more important to be there to support her as a friend, as a human being,” Blythe says.
As the Palaces Burn captures Blythe’s emotionally-charged return to the stage that August at Iowa’s Knotfest following his release. “They didn’t show this in the film, but our friends in the band Machine Head, who played before us on that stage, had blown the power. We were about an hour late going on, so there was 10,000 people in front of that stage chanting for like an hour,” Blythe says. (The reaction to the delay played a little too light, Argott explains. “Whether the power had gone out or not, it was a tense moment for you,” he says to Blythe. “It was tense for an hour,” Blythe responds, with a laugh.)
The documentary also follows Blythe’s return to the Czech Republic to stand trial in 2013, a decision he explains in the video below.
“A lot of people think there’s two films here,” Argott says. “In one sense there is, but then it ‘s really all still one film with this idea of music as a healing force. It started out using it from the standpoint of the fans needing it for healing, but then it kinda came back around for the band to need it. In a poetic, beautiful way, it works much more powerfully the way it unfortunately turned out.”
As the Palaces Burn is in theaters now. The eventual DVD release will have two more hours of footage, including more fan profiles. Blythe is currently writing a book starting from the moment of his arrest and focusing on his time in prison, where cameras couldn’t follow. “Really crazy stuff happened in there,” he says, “both hilarious and just overwhelming.” (Reporting by Mike Bruno)
Watch the trailer: