Global Metal Review

Global Metal
Directed by: Sam Dunn and Scot McFayden


Sam Dunn is a Toronto anthropologist, bassist for death metal band Burn to Black, and the co-director and face of the successful 2005 Metal 101 documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. The success of that film, largely due to DVD, has brought Sam a large amount of respect from his peers, and letters from all around the world letting him know that simply covering North America and Europe’s biggest and most controversial bands meant his job wasn’t finished. With this, Global Metal was born, a travelogue to many of the worlds hot spots to see how these varying cultures have made this style of music their own, as well as how they’ve had to deal with oppressive governments and limited freedom. Call it an ‘advanced study’, a passion project that like Wordplay or Helvetica, hooks you in through the passion of the obsessive fans and filmmakers rather than a specific controversy or accidental plot.

Dunn and his co-director Scot McFayden begin logically in Brazil, as most heavy music fans associate this country with Sepultura and the massive outdoor concert Rock in Rio. It’s a familiar metal fanboy setting fitting with the Wacken adventure in his first film, and an excellent way to transition into his new subject matter. There were some from the first film who felt that the filmmakers weren’t telling them anything they didn’t already know, and its from here on in that Dunn obliges. A trip to Japan shows it as a polite, positive and fun experience, with conflict coming from contrasting styles of traditional, extreme output (such as from Sigh) vs. say, a choir of teenage asian girls singing over ex-Megadeth’s Marty Friedman for the TV series “Death Panda.”. And then there’s Visual Kei, a flamboyant anime meets glam style more akin to Poison than Venom. A strong contrast is China, whose expert there expresses that metal is their output to show their inner hate among a culture with so many people and so much repression. Indonesia has a similar “hate” scene, where a band member somehow manages to explain an anti-Zionist message while at the same time wearing an anti-Nazi armband. Dunn challenges his contradictions, and while the artist tries to explain, it leaves a bit of a bad taste.

For me, the most interesting bits take place within the Middle East and India, whose conservative religious traditions have led the kids there desperate to vent their struggles against the conformity of arranged marriages and Bollywood. The best comment comes from the statement of an Israeli metaller that daily life in the city, the living, are what is scary, and that the fantasy/gore elements of extreme metal are what is fun and not scary at all.

The big names in metal that you would expect, such as Slayer and Iron Maiden, are littered throughout the film to their appearances to tell stories of bizarre incidents that have taken place to them in their trips around the globe – notable is a pretty brutal conflict in Indonesia at a Metallica concert, however with Global Metal, the fans in these countries the real stars, and it is less about shoulder rubbing and defense of the genre than it is about an actual headbangers journey. While a logical follow up to what Dunn began a couple years ago, there’s more to learn here for the metal fan, and for the non-metal fan, maybe they care more about Iranian children escaping the country to see Bruce Dickinson sing than they do about meeting Dio. It is among the best music documentaries I have ever seen, and my only dissatisfaction with it is that once it was over, I couldn’t immediately go into the special features menu and watch extended interviews. — Goon

SCORE: 4 stars

  • I can’t wait to get to see this film again. My favorite moment is when he asks the Iranian (I believe) metal fan about the Slayer graffiti and if he had heard anything about it, and his response soliciting a goathorn salute from me.

  • Phil

    First movie was great, and this is from someone who doesn’t listen to metal.

    Will definitely be seeing this the moment I can.