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Nalbandian, Bob (Director)
Inside Metal: Pioneers Of L.A. Hard Rock and Metal (DVD)
June 2015
Released: 2014, n/a
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: JP

Working in the music industry for years getting advance copies of CD’s is very common for me. It happens almost daily. However, this was a new experience for me being one of the lucky few to get an advance screening copy of the documentary INSIDE METAL.

A bit of background. Director Bob Nalbadian has laid out his ambitious plan to run a series of connected documentaries about Heavy Metal. The first in the series is called ‘Pioneers Of Hard Rock And Metal. This is the first of three in the series based on the LA scene. Part One runs for 2.5 hours and covers the years 1975-1981. You can imagine that when it is all done it will likely be over seven hours long and that is just for this one little regional scene! This INSIDE METAL series promises to be utterly massive, even dwarfing Banger Film’s METAL EVOLUTION series, which dedicated a mere 42 minutes to the LA Hard Rock and Metal scene.

Normally I would comment on the quality and features of the DVD itself (production, packaging etc) but because it is an advance screener this was not the final copy. I must admit it was distracting to have the words ‘PROPERTY OF ALCHEMY WORK” in big, bold, green, block font on the bottom of the screen for the whole movie, but that was a small price to pay to be able to see this gem ahead of time. You can expect to see this on various on-line streaming services and with any luck a theatrical release will be in the near future, perhaps followed by a proper DVD release.

INSIDE METAL falls into the classic ‘talking head’ style of documentary and we get a ton of interviews with older dudes with short grey hair reminiscing about the good old days. In case you think that this is just some teary-eyed trip down nostalgia lane, the interviews are all very insightful and interesting. Nalbadian has got some real heavy hitters of the LA scene to participate. We get to hear from past and present members of Armored Saint, Autograph, Bullet boys, Dokken, Dio, Great White, Keel, London, Metallica, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Rough Cutt, W.A.S.P. and Y&T and many more early bands like Snow, Dante Fox that evolved into bigger name bands. There are extended segments on Van Halen, who basically invented melodic Metal although no one from the band was interviewed for the film.

The overall tone of INSIDE METAL is relaxed and fun. Most of the guys seem to be tickled to be involved in the project and there are many laughs and some excellent observations. The depth of research is very detailed especially the segment on Sound Barrier, arguably the first (and best?) Metal band in which all the members were black dudes. It might not mean much today but back then it was a big deal. The segment with Lars talking about traveling to see Y&T as a pivotal moment helping him move from a career in athletics to entertainment was very enlightening. There is a decent combination of old photos, flyers, and some grainy footage. All of these components combine to emphasize the fact that it really was a magical time and movement in music history with so much energy and excitement that still lives on to this day.

INSIDE METAL is a superb documentary. I was riveted for the entire length. I can’t wait to see Part II and Part III. Any student of Rock history will really enjoy this doc and for those of us who grew up in that era (even if I was many miles away in Canada) it bring back fond memories. To the naysayers who say that is wasn’t ‘Metal’ they need to watch this documentary and listen to guys like Gene Hoglan, Dave Ellefson and Lars Ulrich talk about the importance of the LA scene in the development of Heavy Metal. Don’t miss your chance to see this very enjoyable and importance piece of musical education and entertainment.

Next review: » Nalbandian, Bob (Director) - Inside Metal:The L.A. Metal Scene Explodes (DVD)
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