As the Palaces Burn review – from Spinal Tap to courtroom drama

Mark Kermode: a would-be rockumentary changes tack in gripping fashion when Lamb of God's singer stands trial for manslaughter

Virginia-based metal merchants Lamb of God make music that sounds like the demon Pazuzu attempting to remove your ears with a cheese-grater, but which means much to millions – specifically the hardcore fans on whom this would-be rockumentary originally intended to focus. Yet upon arrival in the Czech Republic as part of their 2012 world tour, singer Randy Blythe was arrested and charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a concert-goer two years earlier. Paroled only after lengthy negotiations (he was held for 38 days), Blythe opted to return to Prague to stand trial, where he faced the very real possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. As it veers unexpectedly from Spinal Tap-esque concert movie to gripping courtroom drama, Don Argott's access-all-areas account unearths an admirable sense of emerging personal responsibility amid the vortex of slam-dancing and stage-diving, with the purveyors of satanic-sounding rock exhibiting a core of decency that often evades their detractors. Even if you hate the music, there's much here to impress.


Mark Kermode

The GuardianTramp

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