As the Palaces Burn screening: Fri., 11pm, Emo's Grindhouse Tent Interview: Sun., 5:30pm, Emo's
As the Palaces Burn was supposed to document a Lamb of God European trek. When frontman Randy Blythe was pulled off a plane mid-tour by Czech Republic police and charged with manslaughter for the death of 19-year-old stage diver Daniel Nosek, it became a chronicle of nightmare justice.
"We weren't getting in a car and going to some nondescript American court building in a suburb," says the singer. "We're in the middle of this really atmospheric city, walking streets that have been there for a thousand years. There's a dark majesty to it, and I thought, 'No wonder Kafka wrote so much screwed stuff.'"
There's no soft Club Fed in the Czech Republic. There's the infamous Pankrác Prison.
"It's like living in a Misfits song. There's a freaking guillotine down the hall from me."
In World War II, the Nazis executed roughly 1,900 Czech resistance fighters with its dropping blade.
"At the end of the war, the Nazis threw it in the river to cover up what they had done, but the Czechs dug it up and put it in the prison."
Blythe's first day of 37, crammed in a holding cell with 12 other inmates, the screaming began:
"The guy next door, he has tuberculosis and he doesn't want to go to the hospital. So there's all these huge Czech guards coming through with face masks on, and they get this guy, and he's kicking and screaming and spitting everywhere, and they drag him past our cell. So everybody has their shirts up.
"Jesus Christ, tuberculosis? That's some stuff my grandma had to deal with."
Vindicated by the courts, Blythe resisted any urge to self-medicate afterward. Two years before his arrest, the notorious drinker got sober and stayed that way. Getting clean helped him survive Pankrác.
"Internally, I felt, well I've been through hard stuff before. Somehow I'm still here. I'll get through this, as long as I keep my head straight."
Back home in Richmond, Va., Blythe just finished his autobiography, Dark Days, due in February. Lamb of God won't be at Housecore, but don't rule out hearing Blythe's roar.
"You absolutely do not know what will happen, because a whole lot of my friends are playing."