|Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey|
Bangers, rockers, skids: call them what you will. At the end of the day, these thunderbird mother fuckers are one of the strangest, most resilient groups to ever storm the gates of Earth. Sam Dunn, being a born and bred rocker from the less-than-heavy Victoria, BC (think old people waiting to die and hippies sleeping in trees), set out to study the culture of metal from its origins to its numerous fights with the PMRC to Dee Snider shocking Al Gore by suggesting his wife created masochistic imagery from surgical images.
Through interviews, concert footage, historical footage and charts charts charts, Dunn does a great job exposing the lighter side of metal (Dio posing with a sword and smile), as well as the dark side (self-proclaimed Satanists talking about how more churches need to be burned down in Norway) (this shit's for real folks, I ain't making it up). While there was a little too much footage of Dunn himself (do we really need to see you sitting in a plane?), the movie was as much about one man's journey as it was about the study of metal.
The underlying theme behind all the footage (from the 17 year old bass player who talks about having shitty days to Slipknot explaining why Des Moines is such a shitty place to grow up) is that heavy metal music and the entire culture it breeds creates a sense of family and acceptance that a lot of people were unable to find else where.
Rob Zombie perhaps puts it best when he notes that you never meet someone who says "I was into Slayer for one summer". Metal, whether one wants to admit, gets into the blood and stays there. Those interviewed ranged from a 13 year old girl from Quebec who swore too much to a 34 year old techie from New York who declared that he wasn't wearing his Lamb of God shirt because it was cool (newsflash, its NOT cool to wear a Lamb of God).
Hi-lights of the film include the interview with Gorgoroth's lead singer. Clad in black and sitting in some dungeon-esque room, he is asked: what is the main influence in your music? Thirty seconds pass before he says "Satan" in the deepest voice possible, then takes a sip from his goblet. Dunn then asks, what does Satan represent, to which he calmly and oh so spookily replies, "Freedom".
Another standout is Dio, the dwarf-sized ex-Sabbath singer who was determined to take shots at Gene Simmons any chance he got. He mocked Gene Simmons for claiming to have created the infamous devil-horn salute, adding Gene claims to have also created ‘breathing and shoes'. In reality, it was Dio's grandmother (yes, his grandmother?!) who first showed the devil horns to Dio, who then popularized it. Dio also takes a jab at Simmons' business mentality. As the story goes, Simmons heard the phrase ‘OJ' (the juice, not the killer) one day and inquired as to whether the phrase was copyrighted. Finding that it wasn't, Simmons copy-wrote it and now whenever its said on TV, etc, Simmons gets a cut. A very ‘Gene thing to do' adds Dio with that hobbit smile of his.
The interview with Norwegian metalheads Mayhem was the perfect example of metalheads getting access to free beer before being interviewed. Mayhem, not being the most popular band, is angry as fuck about the lack of respect for metal and in between the ‘fuck you's', their message was quite clear: fuck anyone who doesn't like metal.
When the curtain falls on metal, it will be remembered by fans for creating a comfortable atmosphere where people felt free to openly express themselves. As Bruce Dickenson notes in the video (this is paraphrased): "I'm successful when I've latched on to the guy at the back of the arena and made him feel a part of something and as a band we're successful when the arena feels like it can fit in your thumb"
Not yet released to mass audiences, I'm unsure as to where you can get your hands on this video, but if you get a chance to see it, take the opportunity. The audience alone was worth admission. This is perhaps what made the movie so poignant. Middle-aged rockers tattooed up to their necks were seated beside Corporate Dad and his heavy metal teenaged son who needed a ride. Baby-boomers laughed with 20-something bangers who snuck beer into the showing. The atmosphere that Dunn spoke about in his video, one of friendship and acceptance, was completely evident in the packed theater. Dunn, sitting with his friends at the front of the theater, could not have been more proud.
- Darren Susin | 2005-10-25