SCREENED AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL, U.S. PREMIERE
very well thought out and produced documentary on heavy metal as an art form, a social lightning rod, and everything in between. he begins the film with the assumption that metal is extremely controversial and he attempts to discover what it is about heavy metal that is so divisive. first the documentary gives an overview of metal’s roots from wagner, beethoven, and opera to deep purple, led zeppelin and black sabbath. he gets into academic points like the use of the diminished fifth chord and tritones, or the general qualities of a metal song – heavy bass and high vocals, etc. from here he characterizes other elements of metal: the environment (mostly the disaffected youth of suburbia), gender roles, religion, etc. in the end he concludes that metal is a) largely misunderstood and b) a victim of its own decision to constantly push boundaries and isolate itself from the dominant paradigm.
i know a bit about metal and i watched it with someone who knows more about it than anyone probably should. we both considered the film to be informative and impressive in both depth and breadth. it’s the kind of film that has an infectious quality to it. after the film’s end i found myself craving some iron maiden and black sabbath and it’s not often that a film compels you to do something (even as simple as listening to music) after viewing it. dunn achieves this through his own passion, the aforementioned educational elements, and humor. for example, there is a frightening, yet very humorous moment, while interviewing nordic death metal vocalist gaahl (of gorgoroth). dunn asks him what the main theme of his music is. gaahl is dressed in black and doesn’t look at the camera, the room is lit by candlelight and he is stoic. after a few moments he simply says “satan,” and takes a drink of wine. the film is filled with entertaining interviews like this. at the same time it shows a true love for metal in its various forms and that love of the subject makes the film special.Watched in theater Watched on TV