For over 20 years, Shihad has defined New Zealand rock music. From their roots in Wellington's furious 90s punk metal scene, to the wild Berlin days, the tragic overdose of their manager, the international explosion of 'The General Electric', and the infamous American name-change, 'Shihad: Beautiful Machine' asks- what went wrong? Written by
I'm not a hardcore fan of Shihad, though I was aware of them pretty early on as they got a bit of press in Kerrang! in the early 90's and they were featured on a few different magazine's cover CDs I picked up. 'Home Again' was on one of these, and a few others stood out (Earthtone 9 did a great cover of 'You Again' too) - but I never picked up an album I don't think. I did sort of remember them changing their name around 9/11 but I'd moved on by then.
I watched this documentary hoping it would serve as a gateway into liking more of their stuff (as have done numerous excellent band docs - Mastodon, Cannibal Corpse, um, Anvil). It fails on one hand because there's lots of music but few tracks are heard fully or long enough to latch onto - that said most of what's here sounds good, maybe aside from the industrial stuff but that whole scene was always a mixed bag for me.
Nice to see a bunch of down to earth and personable dudes who've grown up and can look back on their flirtation with fame with a wry smile - although you can tell some people still remember that joke at the showcase (the undoubted highlight of the film) with a little bitterness. The depth with which it goes into the family relationships does have both rewards - the drummer's (grand?)father still hitting every gig fearlessly in his 80's is great - and also feels almost slightly intrusive sometimes, like a professionally filmed home movie for family only. But it's honesty does make it stand proudly aside from the prolific "documentaries" that some "bands" release in theatres these days.
So, I would've dug more tunes, but I heard the ones I knew and liked, and I'll probably download an album or two finally from itunes and give em a spin. Job accomplished.
The ending was a bit abrupt. Are they still active or what? Wikipedia will tell me but whatever. Also - John Cusack called, he wants his head back.
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