The closest I have ever gotten to liking anything that might be construed as heavy metal was the hard rock of the 1970s like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and maybe the first or second outer rings into the 1980s like Motorhead. These were bands still rooted in the blues somewhat. And even Lemmy provides some semblance of melody and swing.
I started to lose interest in most of the stuff that came after around 1980. There was all the hair metal that meant nothing to me. I even include Halen in this category. Am I supposed to differentiate between Def Leopard, Rush, Iron Maiden, and such? I mean, I know Rush is more prog, DL is more pop, Maiden more hard rock. I don’t know. But mostly, I just never cared much either way.
And then there was all the thrash of the late ’80s/’90s, which sounded like very suburban kids taking the worst aspects of hardcore and metal and putting them together. But like Dylan sang, “don’t criticize what you can’t understand…” OK. I am just talking here. No critique. Just not for me. I remember being at one show at the Ritz in NY around 1986, with Celtic Frost and the Cro Mags playing together. I liked the energy of the latter and thought the former were unintentionally (apparently) hilarious. But neither was my cup of tea per se.
Later on, when we started playing festivals, we would witness such bands as Sepultura. That was some scary shit. I found it interesting. This Brazilian… I dunno, death metal band? It was all slow and low and guttural, like monsters in my nightmares. It was just so different and fresh sounding to my ears — and eyes; what a sight! But after a couple of songs, it was time for the beer tent.
But in the past few months, I have seen a few very interesting documentaries about three very different metal bands. Anvil! The Story of Anvil was just a beautiful film about being in a band, struggling to make it, dedication, and personal relationships. The fact that I cared nothing for their music, and still don’t, but still loved the film is testament to what a great piece of storytelling it is.
Then Tom Maginnis recommended seeing Iron Maiden Flight 666 Again, I care nothing about the music, though with this film, I really developed an appreciation for the musicianship and talent of the individuals. But again, the music was the least interesting part of the movie for me. Here is a story 180 degrees different than the Anvil movie. Iron Maiden are huuuuuuuge worldwide. This in and of itself was not a revelation. But it was the scope of worldwide adoration and the cult of their fans that was astounding. And the joy of the band members, their good fortune and modesty, their acceptance of each other, and the family aspect of the band makes for compelling stuff. The spine of the story is that they decide to pack everything — crew, band, equipment — into one 757 jet and hit all the more remote places that they rarely, if ever, got to play due to financial reasons. And the lead singer pilots the plane.
I’ve also been hearing a bit of noise about Norwegian Black Metal and today an article about a new documentary appeared in the Boston Sunday Globe. Trailer, here. So I went to Youtube and found this really interesting documentary about one figure of this genre. It makes for an intriguing and compelling film. I watched all five parts in succession and recommend the same for you and would be interested in reading some comments: