Heavy metal band Lamb of God are about to embark on their first tour in three years tomorrow, and frontman Randy Blythe has published an open letter announce stricter venue security measures at their upcoming shows as well as urging the metal community to do the same. A decision reached in light of the messy legal wrangling surrounding the vocalist over the tragic death of a fan at a Prague concert in 2010.
The traumatic event, for all parties concerned, saw the 42 year-old vocalist charged with manslaughter in 2012, and spent five weeks in a Czech Republic jail. The band and many in the metal community protested Blythe’s innocence, with fan footage from the concert surfacing and showing Blythe had not harmed the fan, but instead it was unruly fans that had muscled him from the stage.
After a long, messy series of court appearances, Blythe was eventually acquitted of all charges earlier in March this year for the death of 19-year-old Daniel Nosek, who passed away two weeks after attending the concert from head injuries sustained from his repeated falls from the stage.
As SPIN reports, ahead of Lamb Of God’s forthcoming tour, Blythe has penned a lengthy open letter, which has circulated around heavy metal websites and expresses the emotional turmoil which Blythe, the victim’s family, and those in the community have experienced; a cautionary note to all those involved in heavy metal live shows.
“Moshing, slam dancing, crowd surfing, and stage diving – these things are a unique part of our scene;” writes Blyth, “[They’re] the ways some of us express ourselves, shed our cares for an hour or two, and enjoy this music that makes us feel so alive.”
Attempting to articulate the philosophy of heavy metal in a foreign court room and judicial system, Blythe notes the inevitable communication issues experienced, stating that even though Blythe himself was “sober as a judge” on the night of the death and “never intended anyone harm… convincing these judges that our show and others like it aren’t some sort violently nihilistic orgy of hate and self-destruction took a little doing.”
Blythe further elaborated on the invasive questioning of his character:
My character was questioned again and again, several witnesses saying ludicrous things like how my quick onstage movements, my deep voice, my profuse sweating, and how I dumped water over my head (astoundingly, I do it because I’m sweaty and hot) was clearly evidence of the fact that I was drunk, on some sort of drugs, and yes, even evil.”
Despite the Czech press sensationally demonising Blythe as a “barbaric murderous American with evil intent,” the metal vocalist expresses empathy for Daniel Nosek’s family, a feeling reciprocated by the family and which forms the crux of the open letter.
“Daniel’s family did not point any fingers at me,” writes Blythe. “They just wanted to know the truth of what had happened to their son, so they came to court and listened as I did my best to provide them with what I knew. There was no malice, just the real, honest pain…It (the victim’s family) was one of the most amazing displays of strength and dignity I have ever witnessed.”
Blythe, intent on not disclosing parts of the deeply personal and private conversation which occurred between Blythe and victim’s family after the trial, reveals only the pertinent points. First of all, to “play a song for him (Daniel) somewhere,” said the victim’s mother and according to Nosek’s uncle urging Blythe: “Remember – you can be a spokesperson for safer shows. You have that power. Good luck, man. Go live your life.”“Daniel is dead, and I can only warn you band guys and girls… This is a matter of life and death, as I can sadly attest.” – Randy Blythe, Lamb Of God
To commemorate the deceased fan’s memory, the open letter ends with well-rounded and very relevant advice to various members involved in the metal community, which should be heeded in light of the tragedy which three years on hasn’t diminished in emotional significance or weight.
The advice for bands in essence being:“If you are playing a show, make sure that security is adequate and that barricades are properly placed.” Blythe elaborating: “Daniel is dead, and I can only warn you band guys and girls to make sure the venue and promoter are holding up their end of the contract. Do not settle for less. This is a matter of life and death, as I can sadly attest.”
“Security is there to protect the band, the fans, and your business,” writes the Lamb Of God frontman to the venue owners. “If you cannot provide a safe environment for a show that requires security and barricades, do not have it.” the lead singer going on to say, “No amount of money is worth the risk of someone dying in your establishment.”
Following on from the tragedy in Prague, a zero tolerance policy for fans climbing on stage – which supposedly caused the head injuries that led to Nosek’s death two weeks after the performance – is one to be expected on Lamb of God’s upcoming tour. Blythe explicating: “Please respect this. If you do take the stage, we will immediately stop playing, you will be removed from the stage with great swiftness, and thrown out of the show with no refund, no questions asked.”
Blythe reinforces the moral point behind such a strict policy: “I did my best to do the right thing(in retrospect), I am still trying my best to do the right thing.”
For those going to any show, the same poignant point is repeated: “If you are a fan and are going to a lamb of god show or ANY SHOW where there will be moshing, crowd surfing, etc.- know that what you are doing carries a risk. If you want to crowd surf, know this – if someone drops you, you could die. Instantly. That’s just the truth. I don’t know any other way to say it.”
You can read Randy Blythe’s open letter, in full, here.