Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

“I never questioned my sexuality at any point, and I was up there in lingerie.”

— Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister

We went into this film expecting it to be about metal fans in Canada. Instead what we were treated to a very well organized film essay about the history of heavy metal. From Black Sabbath to the most extreme current Norwegian black metal bands, the film explores the history of metal, its origins, its fans, its culture, and its themes: sexuality, religion, violence, and death. The film also seeks to find out why metal has been dismissed by many critics over the years.

Filmmaker, co-director, and narrator Sam Dunn, an anthropologist, uses academic efficiency in breaking down the history of metal. The film even boasts a metal genealogy chart that just has to be seen to believed. A lifelong metal fan, Dunn interviews metal luminaries like Bruce Dickinson, Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and Vince Neil. He also visits metal meccas like Los Angeles, California; Birmingham, England; Wacken, Germany; and Norway. Dunn was like a mad metal professor teaching class as he answered questions from the crowd after the screening. A smart and articulate scholar, he effectively breaks down the stereotype of the “stoner metal fan.”

Perhaps this documentary can bridge the gap between metal heads and the rest of the world. It is only a shame that the film wasn’t longer so that each metal branch could have been explored in greater detail. Dunn said that in order to do the film he wished to make it would have had to be eight hours long! I definitely would like to see an extended version of the film that he said will be released on DVD soon. Until then, please visit www.metalhistory.com for more info and go see this film. Whether you are a metal fan or not you will enjoy it.

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