Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (2005) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
58 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
An insightful and respectful tour of metal's wide landscape
Musagetes23 September 2005
I saw this film on September 22 at the Atlantic Film Festival. I was with some people who had never heard anything heavier than KISS and wouldn't know Black Sabbath from the Black Label Society. It's a mark of this film's excellence that they really enjoyed it and felt they had gained an understanding of the metal scene.

This is no gushing fan-tribute. Well, it is in part, but I couldn't stay objective either were I given the chance to sit down with Bruce Dickinson at the Hammersmith Odeon. Seriously, it rises far above the fulfillment of a metal fan's dreams to explore many different elements of what makes metal both an enduring artform and one that remains on the fringes.

The structure of the film follows distinct topics - Gender, Censorship, Death & Violence, and more. Each area is thoughtfully explored with comments from many musicians and some outside observers. From the calm commentary of Rob Zombie to the wry humour of Dio to the laughable minimalist interviews with Norwegian black-metal players, there's a broad range of experiences and opinions.

This is an excellent documentary in every way.

I knew it was going to be great when I got my first glimpse of the big chart of metal bands that correctly put KISS far away from the actual musicians. Ronnie James Dio further obliged with a running commentary on Gene Simmon's preference for money over music.

You'll get to see and hear a lot of great bands, from the standard warhorses like Maiden, Metallica, Motorhead and Slayer to the less-mainstream stuff like Voivod.
51 out of 53 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Metal as a lifestyle and not a passing trend
varathron126 September 2005
Metal: A head banger's journey

When this documentary starts showing at the multiplexes, it will be the biggest exposure this musical genre would have gotten thus far, aside from a few ridiculous lawsuits that went public throughout the years. The concept itself that mainstream audiences will be learning of everything from Dio's unique opinions on things to Norwegian Black Metal is quite appalling. More importantly, hopefully this documentary will clear once and for all every false doubt and misconception that Metal has always portrayed to the misinformed.

A head banger's journey starts off by examining Metal's roots, the long debate in regards to who was the first Metal band ever. Then, we are taken through an analysis of how metal sub-genres came to exist. Dunn also gives his thoughts about Metal's culture, viewpoints, religious standpoints, the fans and every other aspect of metal. Some of the veterans of the scene as well as some insightful outsiders give their interesting opinions to support the argument at hand. The film balances the serious aspects of Metal with some unintentional humor. Personalities like Alice Cooper, Bruce Dickinson, Alex Webster, Slipknot, Ghaal, Dee Snider, Doro, Ihsahn and many others offer their own individual thoughts in an intellectual way while bands like Mayhem make a fool out of themselves during a drunken interview.

Dunn is a true metal head. It is his passion, yet he gives a critical and sometimes subjective opinion of the music at hand. The documentary is extremely entertaining and informative. It made me proud to be a metal head. It even made me give bands I'm not too fond of another chance. Bottom line is, if you're a Metal fan you'll enjoy this from beginning to end. If you're a curious outsider, here's your chance to understand our world better and get a more defined opinion of our music. And even if you don't, well to quote Dunn at the end: "We're doing just fine without you…"
38 out of 41 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Color me impressed
rhicik-125 February 2006
I saw the film today and was mighty impressed. The film captured the buzz in the '80s when heavy metal became the biggest thing going. It was good to see Iron Maiden and Judas Priest contrasted to current bands such as Slipknot to show how the spirit of the genre is thriving. Tony Iommi, Dee Snider and Ronnie James Dio all give standout interviews with Dio's digs at Gene Simmons being especially revealing. It was also great to see '80s curiosities Accept and Quebec's own Voivod being represented. The segment contrasting the grunting, leather-clad bands such as Man O War with the lace-wearing bands such as Poison and Cinderella was unexpected and fascinating. Showing the closeted Rob Halford performing in full cruising gear for a rabid hetero audience was quite poignant. I especially like how the film stresses how the music let its fans dream, cope and find solace. Those like myself, whose interest in metal may have flagged in the intervening years would do well to view it and remind themselves what all of the fuss was about.
39 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
And what a journey!
paulmartin-29 November 2006
I don't like heavy metal music; in fact I hate most heavy metal music. I loved Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. It had all the best components of a good documentary, one of the best released in a long time and a good companion piece on a par with Metallica – Some Kind of Monster.

Co-director Sam Dunn is both a metal aficionado and a student of anthropology. He knew how and where to delve into the culture with a healthy reverence for his subject matter, but with the objectivity to examine in a way that outsiders could glean appreciation. I found it fascinating.

In a systematic, well-structured manner, heavy metal's origins and history were examined, as was the disparity between its followers and detractors. Fans, band members and industry experts were interviewed. The questions and answers were intelligent. Historic file footage was used. The culture and its many sub-genres was analysed. The relationships between heavy metal and gender, sex, religion, Satanism and violence were all covered in a most interesting and enlightening manner.

It was shot on location, including at various concerts, across North America, UK and Europe. I found Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath and Ronnie James Dio of Dio (accredited as the inventor of the devil horn sign) the most compelling interviewees, though there were many others too numerous to mention. The sum of the whole turned out a rich result.

Unlike many documentaries of late, where the primary goal appears to be light entertainment using celebrity heads, this film is truly insightful, intelligent, balanced, educational, funny and entertaining! Whatever your taste in music, I highly recommend it.
23 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a good subjective approach to the many strands and off-shoots of an under-looked genre of music
Quinoa198428 October 2006
Actually, to say that heavy-metal music is just a genre of music is almost insulting in some circles. As someone who's too eclectic to really be solely a metal-head, but has been in the realm of the metal world to see how it goes, I can empathize with Sam Dunn's main intention with the documentary; this music should not be seen as just some goofy, crude, offensive, or dangerous off-shoot of old-time rock n roll (not that the last one doesn't apply in one or two cases). It's to show how personal this music, and how this 'way of life' can be for a person, and how it affects personality but not necessarily in the perceived negative light. Dunn, of course, has his head totally together, which is how he can go head-to-head with metal legends &/or notorious sorts like Tony Iommi, Bruce Dickinson, Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Dee Snider, Dio and Rob Zombie (Geddy Lee is also among the big known interviewees, though it's strange to see him here when he's not really 'metal', at least in league with these guys).

But through him and his collaborators, he is able to get inside not just the off-shoots and specifics of the world of heavy-metal. The look, the style, the attitude, the controversies both domestic (i.e. Dee Snider's battle with Tipper Gore) and foreign (a superlatively done look at the Norwegian black-metal scene, which is both tense and hilarious), the women bands in the world, and how it helps some people really get better on with life either to hear it or play it or, of course, both. Dunn's look is good if, by necessity perhaps too, too brief, as he at one point lists a kind of heavy-metal family tree of sorts- all too quickly to really see every single one- and barely scratches the surface in the 96 minute running time. Maybe there is only so much that can be covered in a feature-length film, but the subject matter serves to be even more looked into; VH1 had also done a heavy-metal documentary, and it lasted four hours. On the other hand, Dunn and his people actually do get some material here that is more precious, and more enlightening. The juxtaposition of the 'true believers' and horrors in Norways black-death-metal scene with a band like Slayer, who are bad to the bone and have fans who go toe limit, is interesting.

It's the kind of documentary that really does work for that it's worth, but not enough of a good thing is explored for fans. Non-fans may get just enough that they can handle, a mix of the basic facts and key points (i.e. the coining of the term 'metal', the roots in the blues, the devil horns, and a look at outrageous album covers). It's good subjective film-making, though edging a little much on trying to get enough history along with the personal history.
15 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Heavy metal man!
come2whereimfrom18 June 2006
Opening with the age-old question of what was the first heavy metal song before launching into a metal head's history of the genre this fascinating documentary is a must. With interviews from rock greats like Lemmy, Tomy Iommi, Alice Cooper and Vince Neil to name but a few and concert footage of various heavy bands from Black Sabbath to Slipknot this is a sweaty, mosh pit inducing, bleeding ears look at what heavy metal music is and means to thousands of fans the world over. It is well made, surprisingly funny and brilliantly paced. There were moments in the film when the hairs on my neck stood up as memories were evoked by what I was watching. Seeing Rage Against the Machine performing killing in the name of and all the fans singing along reminded me of when I saw them fourteen years ago in room with no more than a hundred people. You can't beat the feeling of seeing a massive rock concert and the film manages to capture that feeling with the sights and sounds it is almost like you can smell the sweat. The makers also don't shy away from the controversy that has been levelled at the music over the years and delves into the various court cases and why so many believe it's the devils music. Overall it is a thoroughly engaging look at heavy metal and all that encompasses, made by a fan for fans but open to anyone, are you ready to rock?
15 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Highly recommended. Well-wrought documentary.
biodagar22 January 2006
I agree with the previous comment.

I saw this movie at an outdoor summer screening in a local park, and it was brilliant to hear the sounds of the metal we know and love pounding out through the park on a Sunday night.

The film was a considered, thoughtful journey through some of the questions that plague the minds of those who aren't part of the metal community. Such as what the fans are like, how they get into metal, why they stay with metal and rarely stray from the various genres that it has. Others include sexuality, girls in metal, and so on.

Each aspect of the documentary was soundly explored, rationally argued, and balanced. For instance, on the one hand you get the perspective of groupies, and then of groupies from bands. You get differing opinions.

In fact, the documentary is a boon for both the metal community and the non-metal community alike. On the one hand, the mettles can revel in the exploration of their community and genres; on the other, the wider community can gain some real insight into the workings of the community.

I must admit that some of the humour that our (predominantly metal) audience felt at the posturing of the Norwegian Black Metal scene, and other parts, the rest of the audience didn't necessarily get. The humour is often something which you must be part of the community to understand, which is why it all appears so serious to the rest of society: they don't get the humour.

All in all, a well-wrought, skillfully crafted, and well argued documentary. Of course there were subgenres and things missing, but you get that with all docos - there just isn't the time to do it. Given the limitations, Metal: a headbanger's journey, makes the most of it and does it well.

Highly recommended viewing.
15 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Rock N Roll film that gets it RIGHT!
metaldj17 November 2005
This was shown during the AFI Festival held in Santa Monica, CA.

Unlike 1988' The Decline II: "The Metal Years" disaster while a big deal at the time, it still remains a brutal "cringe-fest" from start to finish and focused on predominately one style (Glam)one era (The 80s) one location(Sunset Strip) and barely covers the period of Heavy Metal that is STILL alive and well: thrash, black, speed,etc

I would have never guessed that a film about Heavy Metal would take serious the attitudes, styles, individuals,genres and provide a clear history time-line unlike Decline and any others of that ilk.

Don't know when this will come out officially, but hopefully a distributor out there will take notice, even if its headed for the midnight movie circuit.

FEATURED INTERVIEWS: Dio *Iron Maiden * Girlschool * Twisted Sister * Motorhead * Slayer * Rob Zombie* Tony Iommi * Slipknot and more.
16 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Where is "Thrash Metal"?!?!
Thrashman889 July 2007
METAL: A HEADBANGER'S JOURNEY is probably the best documentary EVER on the Heavy Metal scene. It encompasses virtually all of metal sub-genres like Hard Rock, Glam, Black, Power (although I have trouble with defining this sub genre in particular), death, prog and thrash. The film's mastermind, 31 year old Sam Dunn, does an excellent job dissecting the genre, from its classical and blues origins, to why the Scandinavian black metal scene is so evil. He even goes out of his way to set up a genealogical tree for metal! For the metal fan who enjoys or enjoyed some of the metal sub genres presented here, he/she will be full of ecstasy and for the uninitiated, this is a good place to start. Interviews with SLAYER, MOTLEY CRUE, EMPEROR, IRON MAIDEN, MAYHEM, DIO, BLACK SABBATH, RUSH, SLIPKNOT, KORN, ARCH ENEMY, TWISTED SISTER, etc. will only leave you wanting for more and more. There's a nice flow to the documentary and, in my humble opinion, wasn't bored in the least.

What I didn't like too much was the fact that Sam Dunn barely talks about thrash metal. Yeah, he mentions METALLICA, MEGADETH, and there's the SLAYER interview, but this sub genre is the one that gets least mentioned (taking into account today's biggest metal band, METALLICA, arose from the thrash movement).On the other hand, black metal and death metal receive more film time. Maybe Sam Dunn wanted to leave the thrash part less explored due to the upcoming thrash documentary, "GET THRASHED", which has been in the making for at least 4 years.

Minor complaints aside, this documentary rocks and if you're a fan of the genre you'll do no wrong in getting this essential film in your DVD library. Thrash on!!!
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Sam Dunn hits it out of the park with this documentary film.
thekeeth25 December 2007
This doc is completely awesome in every way I can think of stuff being awesome. It's not even perfect, and there's some things in this film that I don't like. However, to be honest with you, most of this doc is so informative, and fun to watch that I still consider it to be one of the best documentaries ever made.

First off, let me give Sam Dunn some props. He's a lifelong head-banger himself, so he's as qualified as anyone should need to be to lead this film. I am also a lifelong head-banger. I also had to defend my love of this style of music to my parents, teachers, and friends, so I understand where his interest in this approach to the subject comes from. I'm sure most fans of heavy metal can attest to being faced with similar challenges while growing up, and it was good to see that I am not alone. This was a recurring theme in the film. That if you are a metal fan, you may be told or feel that you are weird, that you're a real outsider, but in fact, you have a lot of allies out there in the world. I also like the fact that Sam Dunn has the educational background he does, and is obviously making something productive and positive out of his life because too many people do write off metal heads as being stupid, low class, criminal, uncultured, and most likely, introverted, out of touch, and mentally unstable. He seems like a real good person in general, a friendly and talented guy, and a good person to be an ambassador for metal heads everywhere.

This doc is an investigative film that asks lots of questions, and it gives lot of answers in return. I can't imagine a true fan of music, no matter what kind, not appreciating the goals of Sam Dunn and his crew in this film. Simply, he was looking to find an answer to why heavy metal music, and it's fans, have been stigmatized and labeled as this horrible thing in our society. This is interesting stuff, and it's about time someone stood up and asked the questions, answered them, and presented it all in a package that no one can discount as being, "low-brow." Metal heads across the globe for over 30 years have been asking this very question, and it's nice to see someone really tackle it like this.

The heavy metal, "tree," is a really cool thing, and while I hate the fact that too many discussions surrounding heavy metal spiral downward into arguments over what sub-genre a certain band does or doesn't fall into, it's a really well thought out visual aid to the film. There is so many great interviews in here, and most of them are from really great people. With only a few exceptions, I agreed with the views of the people being interviewed, but there were a few that left me scratching my head and yelling at the screen. Some of them were way off base, but that's okay, it only serves to bring light to the fact that many people can't, or won't, "get," heavy metal music.

But like Sam Dunn says at the end of the film, "that's okay," and I agree with him completely in that, no matter if other people understand why I love heavy metal so much, the fact is, I do love it and I do, "get it." I'm glad I'm not alone.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Covers the metal underground well but misses a few things
glados30 May 2006
As a passionate metalhead I was excited to watch a movie on the subject. It has some cool interviews and the documentary tries to map the metal's evolution from the hard rock beginnings in the 60s to the multitude of subgenres today. It does well with heavy and thrash metal but when it comes to the extremes, it barely touches the surface of styles like the norwegian black metal, and omits important styles such as doom metal, or black metal with folk roots, or "alternative" projects that combine five types of male & female vocals with black metal guitars, heavy metal riffing, flutes, violins, techno/trance rhytms and ambient landscapes all in one song... Metal undeground is very complex and the variety is immense - so it is understandable that fitting all this into 90 minutes borders with the impossible. Yet it is obvious that the author is more knowledgeable about heavy metal than the recent developments in the most extreme realms ever known to the music world. Overall, quite enjoyable!
13 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A decent documentary, but a little superficial
Playbahnosh14 November 2008
I surprisingly found this DVD hidden in dark and secluded section of a local DVD store, mostly reserved for B grade flicks, art and indie material. Me being a metal-head myself, was thrilled about watching a documentary that digs into the world's most controversial and "forbidden" style of music/art/life. The experience was a little odd.

The first few seconds into the film, when the all familiar intro of Number of the Beast began, with the clips of metal-heads on screen, I shivered, the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. I felt something very rare, I felt "I'm at home, baby!" \m/ I won't go ramble on about the things everyone knows. Yes, this film is awesome. It has that rare atmosphere, that only a true metal-head could create, like Sam Dunn. If you are a true rocker, you'll feel in sync with the guy, you'll know what he is talking about and why, but if you aren't into metal, you'll have a hard time understanding some of the meaning.

My biggest problem with this doc, is the same as the others: it's too superficial. For me, it's too much about satanism, gore and torching of churches. For me, metal is not about that. Metal is a form of expression, a way of life. I wanted to see more about metal from around the world.

For an anthropologist, Dunn is far too concerned about the different styles of back and death metal, rather than reviewing metal as a phenomenon and culture around the world. He focuses on the US and Norway, but that is just a little piece of the big picture. What about the rest of Europe? What about eastern metal or other regions of the world? What about the other genres of metal? I wanted to hear more about the different genres, the history and pioneers of each of them...etc, how those evolved and transformed over the years, and who are the artists that made it happen.

In a nutshell, it's too one-sided, too narrow perspective. I know it's only 90 minutes, but it could've been done. Okay, I'm maybe splitting hairs here. I agree, it's a decent documentary, and for such an (pardon the term) amateur team, it's a very good film about metal, but it left me with a nagging feeling of "something's missing", it's somehow not complete, and I guess that's what most people are feeling about this documentary. The interviews are very well done, but with the wrong people. I wanted to hear more big names, more name bands and real pioneers of metal. I know the film is very low-budget, and they probably couldn't pay for an interview with Ozzy, Lars, Joacim Cans or even Serj Tankian, but I really miss those bits from a documentary about metal. Other than that, its a pleasant experience, and I recommend it for every metal-head and non-metal-head out there.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Lots of bands missing
villypierroutsakou15 August 2019
Very good for someone that has no idea. But why is there no band's mentioned like Metallica or Sepultuta... How can u miss that? 😒
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good, but doesn't go far enough.
metalrage66617 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
When this movie/documentary first hit theatres I loved it and thought that as a huge metal fan, we are finally getting recognised as just the die-hard fans we are, and not the social miscreants. Also the music was getting its voice out there amongst a wider public, that otherwise considers metal as mere noise.

However after repeated viewings and looking further into the info provided I found that it has a number of flaws and just doesn't go deep enough into its source material. The initial heavy metal tree at the start, is impressive but also highly flawed. While I love artists such as Dio and Tony Iommi, most of the interviews are predominantly all one- sided. I don't get the repeated crosses to the Slipknot interview, which most true metal fans hate with a passion.

The metal fans that get interviewed come off as a bunch of low fore- heads that are into metal for no other reason other than it's seen to be cool or to be deliberately contrary to their friends.

I still like the film, but for a documentary it just doesn't go far enough or deep enough. And maybe this is an Australian thing, but I feel little about this so-called feeling of family or brotherhood that metal fans are supposed to share with each other. Most fans you meet at gigs, tend to be over the top, loud for the sake of being loud, and are opinionated beyond all reason.

It's a good documentary but I would've love to hear from more serious fans as well as perspectives from the general public of what they believe metal is and what they think of it.

Overall the movie does little for people who only know of the genre by way of Metallica etc. and seeing as most people who saw this in cinemas or bought the DVD were already metal fans there is nothing here that we didn't already know.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the best
atlanticcanuck6 June 2008
This film was just about perfect. My main complaint would be that it was not long enough.

It is right up there with The Decline of Western Cilvilization: The Metal years and VH1's 4 part series on Metal. If you like punk, then you would enjoy American HardCore as well.

The cool thing about these documentaries is that having grown up when most of these sounds were just kicking in, you get to relive the excitement and fill in a great deal of blanks about what happened behind the scenes.

Sam's next film should be out soon: Global Metal. I look forward to that one as well. The more music documentaries the better!!!!
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Shallow and misinformed
soundclash8521 March 2011
I've been a fan of metal (the music itself, anyway) for many years now. I had been aware of this documentary's existence for a while, but only decided to watch it recently. Unfortunately, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey was exactly as bad as I feared, and I have to say a very unimpressive attempt to document this vast genre of music.

The first issue with the film is that it presents itself as something to appeal to both metal fans and non-metal fans alike. It tries to educate those unfamiliar with the genre, while providing some fan service to those who love it. The film continually presses the issue of metal and its fan base being looked down upon and marginalised by the rest of society, and unfortunately rather than helping the situation, Metal merely ends up re-enforcing all of the worst aspects of the subculture. Amongst the delights we are treated to are some ridiculous interviews with clueless teenagers talking about how awesome they are for liking metal and how everyone else is an idiot. Way to help the cause, guys.

The biggest problem with Metal: A Headbanger's Journey comes in the form of the "Definitive Metal Family Tree" penned by director Sam Dunn and referenced frequently throughout the film. To say this "definitve" family tree contains factual inaccuracies would be an understatement. Rather than actually checking his facts as most documentary makers would do, it appears that Dunn has created this document based entirely on his own opinions, and as a result there are some truly bizarre inclusions, omissions and definitions which would be obvious to anyone even moderately knowledgeable about metal. The fact that Dunn has been a metalhead since the mid '80s only makes this tree more puzzling. For instance, did you know that Slade are a glam metal band? It's true according to A Headbanger's Journey. I wasn't aware that they were even considered a metal band, yet there they are, listed in a category apparently derived from "Shock Rock", which includes bands such as Kiss. Never mind the fact that Kiss were formed post-Slade, and considered them to be one of their primary influences. We've also got Children of Bodom labelled thrash, Judas Priest lumped in with power metal rather than in the NWOBHM category, and (rather hilariously) Cradle of Filth in the "Norwegian Black Metal" category, of which they are neither - a classic rookie mistake.

Then we have the inclusion of decidedly un-metal categories such as grunge, "Hard Alternative" (including bands such as Jane's Addiction and Smashing Pumpkins), "Pop Metal" (all of which would mostly be considered hard rock), and the aforementioned "Norwegian Black Metal" category, which completely fails to take into account all non-Norwegian second wave black metal acts around in both the early '90s and later. Things like nu-metal are also included, which a great many metal fans don't consider "metal" at all. In short, the whole chart is laughable and looks like it was drawn up by a 15 year old kid who'd just purchased his first Slipknot album. There are far too many errors on the chart to talk about here, but go and have a look for yourself to see the true scale of the problem. Granted, it's difficult to get it right 100% of the time with a genre as vast as metal, but the fact that this is being presented as "fact" in a documentary film, coupled with how atrociously wrong a lot of it is, makes you think that Dunn really should have done some research before making his movie.

All in all, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey comes off as shallow, ill-informed and self-serving to the Nth degree. I think a lot of people (metalheads included) will find this film at best pointless and at worst downright embarrassing. Dunn's motives were noble but in the end he failed miserably.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I guess it could have been much worse
tonigenilmanda26 June 2009
So... this documentary is part of a thesis? As the movie opens, we are explained that the guy tries to find out,among other questions, why the heavy metal genre is ridiculed or why people laughs at it... and after more than an hour of dumbness, the only answer he finds is "f**k you!". Neato!

If this documentary was a thesis, I hope they flunked him for not knowing that most of his questions were already answered by people much better prepared than him to do so, and in a much more amusing way: "This is Spinal tap"

Grotesque. Anyways you can have some fun watching/listening to some former glories like R.J. Dio or Dee Snider.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I don't know for who this was made
bk-8766812 December 2007
Metal is a personal journey of filmmaker Sam Dunn to the roots of heavy metal. While this adds a personal touch, I think it's what makes Metal a less effective documentary.

The film consists of interviews of major heavy metal people, although none of them reveal anything that a metal fan wouldn't already know. Also, I think you already have to know these people to get off of the fact Tom Araya or Dio is being interviewed. Not to mention the people more obscure to the mainstream. Also, I found it a bit funny how the film tries to find maturity in heavy metal, while probably the lengthiest fan interview is of a 14-year-old girl in a studded choker.

Another flaw is that few things are explored in depth. The film is constantly skimming on the subject. The anecdotes from the metal giants reveal more about the essence of heavy metal than the actual processed information. A lot of is skipped, such as the connection between Norwegian black metal and Neo-Nazism - even though an interviewee states the black metalists' view themselves as a selected few and that think certain groups must be eliminated (where have I heard that before?).

Also, since the film tries to educate the viewer, Dunn should have had taken a bit more educational angle. For example, the tritone is mentioned but the viewer probably would get more of it if there actually was an explicit comparison of the demonic notes and the less demonic notes. Now it is just stated that heavy metal traditionally uses a blues scale and Satan's really horrible notes.

It is not to say Metal is entirely without any credit. It gives some general insight to the genre and has the correct people talking about it. The only real mistakes are that it tries to take a too big bite and that it's trying to sell freezers to Inuits.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An excellent and intelligent documentary.
mazunderscore12 May 2007
Metal: A Headbanger's Journey is a subjective and interesting look at the many different facets of metal, both the sub-culture and the music.

As we follow anthropologist and self proclaimed metal head, Sam Dunn on his journey through the world of metal we get an unusual insight into this widely misunderstood and intricate sub-culture.

Dunn not only maps out and explains the origins of the huge number of different sub-genres within the genre of metal music (something that all music lovers have probably wondered about at one time or another), but he also travels to places like Germany and Norway in search of many different metal bands and their fans.

There are interviews with everyone from Alice Cooper to Lemmy to Rob Zombie as well as some quite disturbing interviews with a few Norwegian Death Metal bands and a hilarious interview with the very funny Dee Snider from Twisted Sister.

There is indeed quite a deep and interesting flow to this documentary and Dunn not only managers to maintain a subjective and professional roll in his research, but also managers to maintain his integrity as a metal head - this is indeed, a credit to him.

I highly recommend this documentary not only to people who love their metal, but even to people who don't.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Best Documentary ever!!!
BlindPK8 July 2006
Well what can I say about this masterpiece of a documentary? First: It's a film made by a real metal-head, who has a big knowledge about the best kind of music in the world. Although he is a Die-Hard-Metalfan, he tries to be objective and just to document the heavy metal universe and its origins. This with success! Second: He interviews many important pioneers and members of the scene,like Slayer, Enslaved, Ronnie James Dio,Lemmy from Motörhead... etc. But I think In Flames and Metallica would have been necessary, too. Third: XXXXXXX awesome, Sam Dunn, you rule!

Greetings from a Die-Hard-Metalhead from Metal-Nation Germany!

3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
fourtwentylove15 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Like other reviews I agree that this film is preaching to the converted and well... what can I say people enjoy being acknowledged, hence the good reviews.

But as a "documentary" it lacked A LOT of real information. I certainly did not learn anything new (except that cradle of filth is now being considered Norwegian black metal - i mean who made these categories? Is it sloppiness or lack of knowledge?) and I'm not sure non-metal heads would learn much either.

I have a real problem with the gender/sexuality bit- the word sexism was thrown out but not used in a single coherent thought... the only all female metal band they covered is girlschool! really? I would have appreciated hearing more of an intelligent analysis or theory of why metal either is or perceived to be a male, heterosexual and WHITE genre. Maybe that's asking too much but therein lies the problem of this doc. Its too ambitious- tries to explain the whole culture and history of metal in 90 minutes! It clearly lacked focus and would have done much better honing in on a particular area but that would require more research instead of jerking off every interviewee...

however maybe this film has inspired and opened doors for future film makers to really explore various nuisances in the metal scene... one can only hope.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
boring narcissistic wankfest
diseriq11 June 2006
This somewhat amateurish documentary comes off more like a vanity project and focuses way too much on the film-maker's own narcissism, or "headbanger's journey." The film tries to focus on the whole history of heavy metal and various sub-genres, but in the end only glances over most details and bands of note, and lacks interviews or content dealing with many influential artists. Instead, it's like they took all of the random footage and interviews they were lucky enough to get and poorly edited it together with cheesy effects into an unfocused mess that doesn't really say anything nor give much insight into the music or culture of heavy metal. I felt like I was watching a high school book report.
13 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"Metal confronts what we'd rather ignore. It celebrates what we often deny. It indulges in what we fear most." - Sam Dunn
Bored_Dragon6 December 2018
As a teenager, I was a metalhead. As I grew up I was exploring all kinds of different music genres and I was spending less and less time listening to metal. After some time I almost completely stopped going to metal events and, at some point, I began to think of myself as a former metalhead. Then I saw this documentary and realized I was still a teenage metalhead trapped in a body of forty years old guy who thinks of himself as a former metalhead. Essentially, there's no such thing as a former metalhead. You are either metalhead forever or you have never really been one. Simple as that.


"My answer now is that you either feel it or you don't. If metal doesn't give that overwhelming surge of power that makes the hair stand up at the back of your neck, you might never get it, and you know what? That's okay, because judging by the 40,000 metalheads around me we're doing just fine without you." - Sam Dunn
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
This changed my life
sithchris-360-1487614 March 2013
This movie is truly great for what it shows. It gives outsiders a look at what Metal is to people who do not understand it. I am a big metal head and I always thought it was bad that I liked metal, every one around me told me it was bad and it was making me a bad person. But after watching this it explains every thing. If your a metal head who does not understand your self watch this it will change how you think of yourself. If your a metal head who already knows them self watch it just to learn more about it. If your a outsider who hates metal but wants to know why people listen to it watch it. This is by far one of the best documentary I have ever seen I highly suggest it to any one. It covers every thing you need to know about metal and it might just explain more about yourself than you might know. I am truly proud of my self and who I am after watching this. I hardly rate movies 10/10 but this one truly hits a home run in just about every thing. Watch it you wont be disappointed.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent history of heavy metal music
dfle319 June 2008
Over a year ago I saw this documentary at the Melbourne International Film Festival (I think). Not being a headbanger, per se (though I do like some heavy metal), I found this documentary very informative and interesting.

It's presented by avowed "headbanger" (so called for how fans react to this music) Sam Dunn. Now, there is no doubt some interest in a fan-boy waxing lyrical about their favourite things, but what raises this documentary above the average is that Sam Dunn just happens to be a scholar-an anthropologist-thus ensuring that the content is well thought out and articulated.

Of particular fascination to me was the "family tree" diagram featured frequently in this docu of how the various genres of heavy metal relate to each other...that must be the anthropology angle kicking in, I think. When I contacted a site related to this docu, someone mentioned that the DVD of this may have the diagram (or at least future editions would) as a distinct element of the DVD.

The docu covers heavy metal as a genre-it's various sub-branches and its putative father, so to speak. What was particularly good about this was that whilst Dunn did posit who he thought created heavy metal as a genre (Black Sabbath), he does provide video footage of bands which piqued my interest in the subject and which could perhaps be argued to have created the genre themselves. In other words, you don't get a completely biased view of the subject from Dunn.

Many of the legends of the genre are interviewed in this docu-Tommy Iommi from Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Lemmy from Motorhead and Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson. Not being a great fan of Iron Maiden, I must say that Dickinson was a highlight of this docu for his honest and insightful comments on the art of performing.

As there is a school of thought, perhaps, that Metallica are the pinnacle of this genre, they are conspicuous by their large absence from this docu.

I've reviewed some heavy metal albums at Amazon under this id. e.g. Coldseed.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed