Metal Evolution-Episode 2: Early Metal US (DVD)
Released: 2012, Alliance Films
How interesting that Dunn was able to capture much of my own heavy metal evolution, and so my nostalgic journey begins.
I was no older then 10, when Alice Cooper's "School's Out" was being played by radio in Australia. I listened to Kiss, they were getting a lot of radio and television exposure. In 1977 I was 10 years old when I requested my first heavy metal music for Christmas, I wanted Kiss and was given the Kiss Alive I and II albums on cassette.
The interviews with Peter Criss and Ace Frehley and accompanying footage brought back a lot of childhood memories.
I don't remember hearing or seeing the likes of Ted Nugent, Heart or Journey during those times as the whole KISS package just seemed to overshadow everything else, actually much like it did in this episode. But on a side note, Journey, to this day, has never toured Australia, so maybe the reason I don't remember them is they just didn't hit Australian media - the music would have been too good to ignore.
Dunn's ability to accurately capture heavy metal's evolution in this episode was highlighted when his interviews made the connection between disco and the death of rock and how bands like KISS had to remould their music to stay alive.
The tale begins with the influence of Dick Dale and surf music on early U.S. metal, not a style that is often even vaguely associated with metal by most metal heads. However, Dale’s guitar style was riff-centric and while lacking in distortion was unique and Middle Eastern-influenced, a style which would creep into the riffs and soloing of many metal bands years later. Like the setting of Heavy Metal’s birth in Birmingham, England, Detroit was the epicenter of early U.S. metal, and Nunn spends a lot of time interviewing and covering bands like the MC5, Ted Nugent, Blue Cheer and naturally Alice Cooper. The lion’s share of the coverage is reserved for Kiss and Aerosmith, obviously two hugely influential bands. However, Nunn’s failure to include Blue Oyster Cult is unfathomable, a band far more deserving than say The Stooges (a punk band in my opinion). It is not merely an oversight, but a stunning betrayal to the history of Early U.S. metal, and because of this omission, the episode is one of the weakest of the series.
This episode traces the roots of the genre in the US. Interviews include interviews with guys from Steppenwolf, Blue Cheer and Ted Nugent. There is a good segment on the Detroit scene with MC5, The Stooges and Alice Cooper of course. It was nice to see interviews with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss although it would have bee nice to hear comments from Gene and Paul on their opinions of their own influence on Metal. I liked the connection of Surf music guitar style to that of the Metal guitar style. It’s obvious because a number of bands have that playing style and have covered surf music songs but it as nice to see the concept developed on screen. The episode rounds out in the late 70’s with Van Halen and the rise of Glam Metal connecting to Episode 5.