Monday, December 10, 2012

An Opinion on Metal Evolution (From Someone Who's Never Seen It)

Apparently people still watch VH1 expecting some kind of realistic portrayal of heavy metal.  That fact genuinely surprises me.  Sam Dunn, creator of acclaimed documentaries Metal: A Headbanger's Journey and Global Metal took to task the episodic exploration of the genesis and development of the genre.  Tracing the roots back to the more esoteric and aggressive strains of hard rock and following the myriad of branches to the present day. The results led to some controversy, something arguably unavoidable when it comes to sorting out subgenres and discussing who influenced who.  Though we metalheads can prove to be pedantic sons of bitches, I think it's fair to say that Dunn's execution fell well short of what it could have and should have been.  Metal Evolution spawned from the problematic "Heavy Metal Family Tree" featured in Metal: A Headbanger's Journey.


However it seems that Dunn has made amends for inaccuracies included in the original family tree, the DVD release acknowledging doom metal and removing Cradle of Filth from the above section.  It should also be noted that his work on visual releases for Iron Maiden and Rush were both well received.  Hell, one of the first things I did when I bought a Blu-Ray player was to snag a copy of Flight 666 and enjoy Dunn's doc on the metal gods' unprecedented world tour on their own commissioned jet, flown by singer Bruce Dickinson.  I also give Dunn huge props for Global Metal's inclusion of Sigh.  Praising the Japanese masters of the avant-garde is a quick way to my good side.  It seems that covering the whole of heavy metal, however, is too lofty a task for those involved mini-series.  Indeed it might be too controversial of one for the likes of VH1 as well.

Although the inclusion of episodes based entirely on proto-metal, grunge, nu-metal and whatever the hell shock rock is (a musical genre that basically includes any band that wears makeup) were baffling at best, Metal Evolution's biggest crime was ignoring anything heavier than Slayer and darker than Mercyful Fate. Considering the other two films spawned from Dunn's Banger Films acknowledged that real heavy metal lived past the '80s, this was frustrating to any viewer that actually knew the subject material.

The solution?  Ask the fans to pay for the production costs of a single episode to cover death metal, black metal and grindcore.

With just a little over two days left on the Indiegogo page set up to funnel donations to Banger Films, the donation total sits at $35,214, well short of its $135,000 goal.  It looks like the "lost" "Extreme Metal" episode won't be coming to fruition.

Good, I say.

Bands like Bathory and Death were both playing more or less full ahead versions of black metal and death metal respectively all the way back in 1987.  Why, a quarter of a century later are we still acting like these two distinct movements (I refuse to use the umbrella term "extreme metal" to try and condense what accounts for more than half* of all metal bands that have ever existed) are ineffectual or mere footnotes?  If the grunge movement warrants an entire episode in a TV series about heavy metal, shouldn't death metal receive at least two shows?

And once again, Sam, you forgot that doom metal is a thing.

*= As of writing Encyclopedia Metallum listed 87,871 bands in their database, 29,837 contain the word "death" in their genre tag and 21,870 contain "black."

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