Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey

Warner Home Video

Sam Dunn is a 30-year-old anthropology graduate. He’s also a metalhead. Why not combine his two passions into a project that explores the cultural phenomenon of heavy metal—one of the only musical genres that has been legitimately affiliated with Satanism, sexual deviance and even murder? There’s nothing too hard-hitting here, but Dunn does a fine job of weaving his scholar’s viewpoint with that of a metal fan. The film opens with scenes from the classic Heavy Metal Parking Lot before launching into a relatively accurate breakdown of the genre by “origins,” “environments,” “culture,” “religion” and “death.” In conducting his “research,” Dunn travels the globe and interviews so-called “experts,” like a UCLA musicologist and “super groupie” Pamela DesBarres, as well as his heroes including Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, Tony Iommi and Lemmy from Motörhead. But, more telling are his encounters with members of Norwegian black metal bands like Gorgoth and Mayhem (the latter’s members made a necklace from the lead singer’s skull after he shot himself in the head) as well as everyday schmucks who’ve listened to metal their entire lives. One thing is clear: While punk rock is more commonly accepted as a “lifestyle,” those who have chosen metal are far more allegiant—sometimes disturbingly so.