Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey
Sam Dunn is a lanky, long-haired heavy metal fan and anthropologist from Victoria, BC, who in this well thought-out doc takes a serious look into the culture of that most abhorred subgenre of rock music. It’s a slick, well-made, VH1-ready analysis of the enduring appeal of metal music to a staunch legion of fans—largely young, white and male—and why it is the proverbial fingernails-on-the-chalkboard to so many others. Dunn gets some great musicians to provide their perspective: Geddy Lee, Bruce Dickenson, Alice Cooper, Tony Iommi, Lemmy and the tiny but formidable Ronnie James Dio. He backs up his investigations with academic talking heads, musicologists and sociologists, and gets into variants from glam to death metal, censorship, gender and sexuality, even groupies. A trip to Europe includes a long look at Norwegian black metal, but Dunn errs in spending a little too much time on the extreme fringes of the scenes. He could well have looked a bit more critically at metal musicians who traded on a certain adolescent sexuality and misogyny in their prime, only to look especially silly peddling it in later life (that’s you Vince Neil), or launch the nostalgia tours to milk the back catalogue (Vince again). Still, for those about to rock, Metal salutes you.