Lamb Of God’s Blythe Returns To Pankrác Prison

Randy at Pankrác

Pankrác sounds like the name of a kind of goblin in Harry Potter, no? “Quick — don’t let that Pankrác escape with the potion.”

Or some shit.

But Pankrác is a prison in Prague where Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe spent a month of his life last summer.

Blythe returned to the U.S. last week after it was announced in a Czech Republic court his manslaughter trial would be delayed until March.

In a series of postings on his Instagram account earlier Tuesday, Blythe wrote about his experience going back to Pankrác.

“I am back in Richmond, Virginia here in the U.S. of A., and I am certainly glad to see my home and friends here. But I shall return to Prague for the end of my trial, March 4 and 5. Hopefully it will finally be settled.

“The judge told me I did not have to return for the end of the trial, but my head and my heart will remain in Prague until I see this thing through.”

Wait. Why would the judge say he doesn’t have to come back? Could be a good sign, folks.

“Prague has built a strange place for itself in my heart. It is a beautiful place, one I have gotten to know rather well, and even love to a degree. But it is a city of contrasts for me, for I see Prague’s beauty through a lens of tragedy.

“The city and what brought me there will always remain with me for the rest of my life. I must pay attention to the nature of this dichotomy, and learn its lesson, no matter what happens.

“Nothing has just one side to it, and I believe it is a mistake to judge things immediately by exterior appearances alone. For example, take this clock. Prague has many, many, many towers and clocks, including the astronomical one in Old Town Square. The astronomical clock is one of the coolest clocks I have ever seen. People from all over the world gather every hour to watch it strike the hour, with all its mechanized statues popping out and spinning around. It’s basically a gigantic version of the world’s coolest cuckoo clock. Prague has many other cool clock towers as well.

“Someone might look at this tired old clock and say, ‘Ugh! Tear that thing down! Why would you have that clock when there are so many others here that are so pretty?’ But to me, this clock is beautiful. It holds a strange place in my heart, like Prague itself. The clock is beautiful to me because in there, in Pankrác Prison, it was the only way I had to tell time for a long while.

“After my last day in court recently, my wife, a friend, and I took the subway over to Pankrác. I needed to see it, to take pictures, to look at what was my home for over a month. It was a strange feeling returning there, and I think some wouldn’t do it.

“I don’t know. My trial is not over yet. I could return to a cell behind these walls. But I just wanted to see the place. The outside is nothing like the inside; once again, the dichotomy of my life in Prague.

“This is a beautiful row of birch trees planted alongside the outer wall of this 123-year-old prison. On the other side is another world.

“We walked the entire perimeter of the prison, through neighborhoods with nice gated houses and grim-looking apartment high rises. I kept looking for my cell until I found it. It is the tiny square you see in the middle of this picture. That was my last cell, on the top floor, where I could look out and see where I took this picture from. I used to stare at the apartment building I took this picture from and wonder what was happening in there. Most of the time, I was in the basement, though, and the view from my cell window looked something like this picture, without as much sky. Without much of a view, I had to look inside myself. Dichotomy.

“Pankrác is a grim place, but I kept my spirits up in there. If I felt sorry for myself, I quickly reminded myself that there are many in the world who would be grateful to have the food I had, to escape a war-torn homeland in exchange for three hits and a cot, even in a prison for a bit.

“Suddenly being thrown into a foreign prison wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to a man. I had food, clothes, and shelter.

“Remain grateful for what you DO have, not resentful over what you DON’T.

“We finished walking and got on a subway back to the center of Prague.

“I was glad I came to look at the prison. I would love to have a camera in there — it’s amazing inside, in a really messed up way.

“I do not know what the future holds for me. Maybe I will return to behind these walls, but I do know that I have to do the right thing as my conscience dictates. For me, that is going back to finish the trial, as I said I would.

“The family of the young man who is dead is in court every day, along with mine. They have shown remarkable kindness by not attacking me in the press or anywhere else. It must be very difficult for them to look at my face, regardless of my guilt or innocence. They have behaved honorably, and so shall I. I will do my best to give them the answers they deserve.

“I ask people not to judge the family of this young man for wanting these answers. Their family has lost a son. Who would not want answers? I’m not so sure I would have displayed the class and reserve they have if the tables were turned.

“Remember, no story has just one side. Try to look at everything from different angles, to not make snap judgements. Put yourself in another’s shoes for a second. Otherwise we all just remain in a prison of our own making.

“Thanks for all your support. I will put up some cheerier pictures soon, I promise.”

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About Chris Harris

Chris Harris is an internationally-published music journalist and writer whose work has appeared on the pages of Rolling Stone, IFC, Revolver, Alternative Press, and Radar. The former news editor for Noisecreep, Harris also served as co-host for the site’s weekly podcast, “Creep Show." Before that, he spent four years writing for MTV News.

  • Guest

    It may sound like a goblin, however the neighborhood was named after a local church which bears the name of Pancras of Rome.

  • L Roy

    Laudable attitude to life..

    On a side note, and not having translated any recent articles on the matter, I would take a guess that him not needing to attend the end of trial is not an indication of the outcome but more to do with him not being required to present any further evidence in the matter. Should he be found guilty, no doubt his extradition would be requested via the usual channels…