Heavy Metal History: Would you like to know more?
With the heavy metal scene once again enjoying an upswing in exposure in recent years, we've seen numerous books along with a couple of films (Such as the highly anticipated and yet to be released upcoming documentary Get Thrashed) being put out to focus solely on the genre, and it's little surprise to find there's another on the market trying their hand at the genre, and this time around it's from noted film director Dick Carruthers (Who's previous film credits include feature presentations from The Who, Led Zeppelin, Portishead, Manic Street Preachers, The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes and Oasis).
While it's almost impossible to fully document the phenomenal development and evolution of the heavy rock scene from it's earliest beginnings to the current scene today into a compact two hour feature documentary, Heavy Metal: Louder Than Life does give a well balanced overview of the genre, with the story laid out in forthright manner from those directly associated with the music itself (A list that's simply too big to mention here, but covers both past and current artists), alongside key industry figures.
Spread over fourteen individual chapters, the film covers everything from the bands that helped build the foundation that on which heavy metal built itself from (Grand Funk Railroad, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin), the eventual emergence of heavy metal as a unique musical force unlike any other (With the release of Black Sabbath's self titled debut in 1970), the three essential ingredients that makes metal music metallic (The guitars, drums and vocals), the satanic and political side of metal (Black Sabbath's stand against the Vietnam war and their unwarranted association with Charles Manson, Judas Priest and the infamous subliminal suicide trial in 1990 and an all too brief mention of the self proclaimed satanic acts throughout the ages), producers and their role in the studio, the importance of performing live in front of an audience (From playing small clubs to the big arena days of the '80's), the relationship between bands and their fans (Summed up perfectly by Ronnie James Dio with his statements of 'Without them, we aren't. Without us, they will always be!' and 'Without them, I'm not talking to you here. I'd be laying bricks somewhere, which would give me great joy by the way!'), the misconception that metal has nothing to say lyrically, the metal imagery and fashion (Leather, denim and tattoos), the role of media and it's part in exposing acts and breaking others (Such as Metallica and Korn), the excesses of success (Sex, drugs, destruction and the debauchery credit card!) and a look back at bands who went on to be the next big thing (Pantera, Korn, nu-metal and metalcore), and those to come.
As a fitting end to things, a tribute to the late ex-Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Darrell 'Dimebag' Abbott is played throughout the credits. As an added bonus, the film also comes with an additional disc that features a host of extras including a highly entertaining thirty minute overview on the metal scene (And his band Twisted Sister) as seen by Dee Snider, a short ten minute feature on '80's hair metal parody act Metal Skool, the sometimes funny Mystery Head Banger (Where a mysterious metal fan reveals all, apart from his identity), a selection of those featured in the documentary revealing their favourite albums of all time, Anecdotes (The best being Steve 'Krusher' Joule's tale regarding his cover artwork to Black Sabbath's 1983 album Born Again, Ian Paice's (Deep Purple) memories of David Coverdale's phallic performances in front of impressionable young men, Stuart Young's (Ex-AC/DC manager) recollection of Bon Scott's recommendation of Brian Johnson to the band and Geezer Butler's (Black Sabbath) quarter of a million dollar baby) and the movie's trailer.
Although the film is noted by the absence of a few key characters to the story (Slayer, Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden are just some names that come to mind), and certain styles of metal are passed over (Black, death, progressive metal and the Swedish movement), Heavy Metal: Louder Than Life is still an interesting, well presented and informative introduction for those who want to know more about the metal scene, but were simply too afraid to ask.
(Hopscotch Films/Shock Records Distribution)