Released: 2006, Seville Pictures
I think it’s just about every metalhead’s dream to write a book or make a documentary/movie about the music they love. I always think about it myself, and how I’d tell metal’s story and show audiences how important the music I love is to millions of people and how it doesn’t deserve to be considered that dirty word it is in the mainstream. Every single metalhead wants to show everyone else how metal is, in their own way and very few people have attempted to do it as a serious documentary (well, actually, I can’t think of any documentaries aside from HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT and THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION PART II). Well, anthropologist/metalhead Sam Dunn went all out when he created METAL: A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY which is now seeing some pretty positive reviews, within metal, and even in some rather large publications that have little to no music affiliation.
METAL: A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY is a documentary that is set around metal as a style of music, as a culture, and as the mainstream’s punching bag. Sam Dunn sets out to answer the question why metal isn’t given the validity most other forms of music receive as well as create a window for the outsiders to gain a better understanding of heavy metal.
Throughout the movie Sam jumps from topic to topic sliding from metal’s creation, its history, and subgenres to metal clothing, use of satanic imagery, and sexuality. The first few sections of the movie do well to set up the uninitiated so that there’s a higher level of understanding going into the slightly more involved later half of the movie. Throughout the documentary interviews and quotes come from metal bands, metal fans, as well as sociologists and professors, each giving the audience their own take on certain elements in metal and relating to the audience how and why metal’s obsession with life’s more provocative subjects seem to strike such a cord with metal fans and create such disdain from parents, politicians, and the media in general.
What really sets this movie apart is that this isn’t one skewed side of the story; Sam Dunn doesn’t really do a whole lot of talking and lets others relate their take on things. With interviews with bands like Slipknot (don’t get me started), Lamb of God, Slayer and Mayhem (one of the definite laugh out loud moments in the theatre) as well as sit downs with Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy, and a host of others (mustn’t forget sociologist Deena Weinstein, who has written a couple books on heavy metal, as well as many on rock and roll in general).
If you’re a metal fan like myself, I admit that it’s doubtful you’ll come out of this movie with any new found knowledge about metal, the lifestyle, or any bands you love, but I find it hard to believe you won’t find this documentary at least mildly enjoyable and find it reaffirming many of your opinions on the style. As well, this documentary may just be what your girlfriend, mother, or mocking friends needs to watch to finally understand why you love all this loud, Christ hating, music.