Sometimes it's hard to distinguish metal shows from all-out brawls. And now, an onstage tussle between Lamb of God's frontman Randy Blythe and a Czech fan has led to the singer's controversial indictment on manslaughter charges.
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The incident in question happened two years ago, when Blythe's band first played Prague. Police accounts of the Club Abaton gig claim that a fan repeatedly climbed onstage—as headbangers tend to do. The third time he hoisted himself up, this fan got past security guards and Blythe allegedly pushed him back into the crowd, causing the fan to sustain injuries from which he would later die. Blythe was arrested when Lamb of God returned to Prague on tour this summer. He spent over a month in Pankrác Prison before returning to his homestate of Virginia. After this week's indictment, he'll have to cut Lamb of God's tour short and return to the Czech Republic for trial, facing up to ten years behind bars if convicted.
Stage safety has been a fraught issue in heavy metal, especially since Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell and four others were shot and killed at an Ohio concert. The metal Twittersphere has come to Blythe's defense, and so have fellow musicians. Disturbed frontman David Draiman called the trial "A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE" in an all-caps Facebook post, and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash tweeted:
Czech prosecutor is moving forward w/indictment of Lamb of God's Randy Blythe. This is to be an incredible waste... fb.me/D5KiXmiQ— Slash (@Slash) December 4, 2012
Lamb of God's manager Larry Mazer has issued a statement, saying, "While it is a tragedy that a Lamb of God fan died following a performance by the group, in no way do I feel that Randy did anything improper that led to the young man’s injuries and subsequent death. The price of a ticket to a show does not entitle audience members access to a band’s stage."