As most of the heavy metal world already knows, Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe was acquitted of manslaughter charges this morning in Prague. It marks an end to the almost year-long ordeal, starting with Randy's detention in the Czech Republic last June over the accidental death of a fan at a concert, and also casts Randy and his band as heavy metal's newest and proudest role models.
From the beginning, metal fans were fiercely supportive of Mr. Blythe, wearing T-shirts, chanting at concerts, and even petitioning the State department to aid his release when he was first seized. But it quickly became apparent that Randy's fate was in the hands of the angry Czech authorities, and while heavy metal fans are often stereotyped as rabid, violence-prone maniacs, Randy's calm levelheadness was a constant throughout his detention and trial and served as a sterling ambassador for metaldom to the outside world.
As vocalist and lyricist for Lamb of God, Randy has always embodied the alpha male, roaring his demands for honor, courage and respect in songs like Omerta and Laid To Rest. But few frontmen have ever been forced to practice what they preach, especially in the public eye and with their personal freedom at risk.
Randy's every post, tweet, and instagram affirmed his resolution to stand trial and face the charges like a man. Not even the threat of 10 years imprisonment could shake his steadfast determination to return to Prague for trial, even once he was freed on bail and could theoretically have stayed in the US safe from extradition.
Thrust into a tragic situation, Randy proved that he is every bit the man he portrays on stage, a fierce believer in honor and willing to suffer in the name of truth and justice in order to clear his name. Rock music history is littered with liars, addicts, cowards and egomaniacs, and Randy's courageous conduct puts them all to shame.
Lamb of God have slowly but surely risen to the very top of the heavy metal world, as the Big 4 age and nu-metal fades. There is no band both bigger and heavier than Lamb of God, and while Chris and Willie Adler, John Campbell and Mark Morton all contribute head-stomping, chest-crushing instrumental brutality, Lamb of God would not be who they are today without the electrifying, venomous yet earnest appeal of Randy Blythe.
Randy, his family, his band, his hometown of Richmond, VA, and the entire heavy metal world celebrate today, and surely Lamb of God tour dates await in the not-too-distant future. While November's New York show (read my review here) was tinged with the fear that this might be the final appearance of Randy this decade, there is no doubt that their next performance will be a victory not only for innocence, but for honor.
Today, there is no one who embodies what it means to be an honorable man more so than Randy Blythe. As his fans, we salute Randy as our newest heavy metal hero. There is no one more fit to represent the positive side of metal than Mr. Blythe, and the future of heavy metal music looks brighter than ever now that he is free.
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