TESTAMENT Guitarist: Is Prejudice Against Metal Behind Lack Of Media Coverage Of BLYTHE Case?

July 12, 2012

TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick has posted the following message on his official web site:

"It was at an elaborate breakfast buffet in an upscale Manila hotel — courtesy of a Filipino concert promoter — where I first had an in-depth conversation with Randy Blythe. Sure we'd run into each other before, always at a show, in a big crowd but never one on one. Minutes earlier, we'd noticed each other sitting alone at tables and got a kick out of seeing someone else from our respective bands that had risen early and headed to breakfast with a paperback in hand. One of us, I forget who, waved the other over to his table.

"Soon we were deep in discussion of shared passions for not just books but also spicy cuisine, adventurous travel, diverse music and films. It was a mutual favorite movie, 'Lost In Translation', that solidified this bromance — if you will. We each own the film, have seen it numerous times, frequently quote it and both love the soundtrack that consists of ambient textures and indy rock not typically listened to by metalheads. It was good to find someone else in the metal world that prefers a good thought provoking, artistic, independent film over dark fantasy, horror and violent action movies.

"To my pleasant surprise that morning, Randy turned out to be someone that defies stereotype, is an independent thinker, well read, articulate and unafraid to express honest opinions. Whenever we've hung out since, it is not as the singer of LAMB OF GOD and the guitarist of TESTAMENT, but simply as two guys that have a lot of common interests.

"A few months later, I went to see chef/author/TV personality Anthony Bourdain on a book tour — Randy and I are both die-hard fans. When I met Bourdain, I passed along a message from Randy and got each of us a personalized copy of Bourdain's latest book 'Medium Raw', in which Bourdain drew a picture of a chef's knife and a personal inscription. Randy returned the favor by giving me an incredible book by computer programmer/musician Jaron Lanier — a technological manifesto covering the positive and negative implications of the modern computers and the Internet, entitled 'You Are Not A Gadget'.

"This is the Randy Blythe I know — bookish, passionate, smart someone that, like myself, is a nerdy intellectual oddball who just happen to be in a well-known metal band. That scowling, scary face in his band's publicity photos and live shots? An onstage persona.

"As I write this, Randy sits in a Czech prison, unjustly accused of manslaughter, denied bail and facing a 5-10 year sentence. He was arrested on sight at the Prague airport, without warning. Apparently two years prior, a fan succumbed to head injuries weeks after attending a LAMB OF GOD concert. While this is a tragic unfolding of events, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that Randy is not to blame.

"As of this writing, it has now been more than two weeks. It's getting more difficult by the day to think of a friend unfairly locked away in a foreign jail, kept from family, loved ones, liberty and life. One is reminded of films like 'Midnight Express' and novels like Franz Kafka's 'The Trial' (the type of creative works that Randy appreciates on a deep level, but surely never thought he'd have to live through).

"At this point, all we can do is try to stir up noise, keep tweeting, petitioning and drawing more attention to this case and hopefully get this great, well-deserving guy out of jail. There are a few petitions going around, including this one from Change.org It can't hurt to tweet media and government figures, including the State Department Bureau Of Consular affairs, @TravelGov, an official U.S. agency that describes its purpose as 'protecting lives and interests of U.S. citizens overseas.' So far not a peep out of them.

"Adding to the frustration, this case is barely making a dent outside of Randy's hometown of Richmond, Virginia. As of yet, there has been no national TV coverage of the case, despite brief mentions in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Rolling Stone (shortly after the arrest, with little or no follow-up). One can't help wonder if prejudice against metal and its reputation could have something to do with this. As one fan, @GarthGreen13, posted on Twitter: 'Justin Bieber gets speeding ticket & its headlining news, Randy gets put up 4 MANSLAUGHTER in another country, nothing.'

"One would like to think that simply being an American citizen comes with certain inalienable protection against mistreatment by foreign justice systems, especially those of European Union countries such as the Czech Republic. And it would seem like being a four-time Grammy-nominated singer would help. Apparently not."

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