Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey

I just finished watching a documentary about heavy metal called Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. It's a decent film, but veers way too much to the fanboy side of things for my taste. It does a decent job explaining what there is to like about metal while showing as well what there is not to like.

Sam Dunn, the host and writer, is an anthropologist and he does a great job breaking down the societal and cultural aspects of the musical genre. I did find it a bit disconcerting that all the violence and sex and satanism in the music was touched on, but just winked away by the film as just entertainment. It intimated that those who didn't understand that it was all some great big joke where just "out of it."

I would have enjoyed a little more exploration into the actual musical structure of metal music. There is some discussion of the "devil's note" and the diminished fifth scale, but no real follow-on as to how it plays out in modern metal. Indeed, there is very little in the film about the craft of modern metal. It's really more about personalities and an overview of the genre as a whole, but it does a decent job with that.

The strangest part to me was when they showed George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher of the band Cannibal Corpse. He is almost certainly missing a chromosome or something. The guy is one hell of a frontman, but he should lay off the acid when he's on film.

Mr. Dunn has created a really cool genealogy of metal which appears in an interactive version on the DVD and is also printed without logos in the liner notes of the soundtrack. That little extra is worth the price of admission.
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