I have a confession, I am a metalhead. I no longer feel the need to appreciate my heavy metal in the realm of the closet. I am out of the closet. I love metal music. I love the 80’s hair metal bands like Twisted Sister, Ratt and Bon Jovi; I love the classic metal acts like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest; and I love the speed metal of Anthrax and Slayer. I love metal and want the world to know this. I want to climb my neared water tower and shout until every capillary in my lungs explode. I LOVE METAL!
That’s why VH1’s Metal Month has been so freaking awesome for people like me. If you were a metal fan in May, there really wasn’t any other channel that you needed to be tuned to. VH1 had it all; metal themed reality shows, killer concerts and one massive documentary entitled Heavy: The Story of Metal”.
Heavy was one of the greatest TV documentaries I have ever seen. Four hours in length, the program was broken up into chapters that chronicled the history of, perhaps, the most misunderstood genre of music with exquisite detail. VH1 (somehow) interviewed every single member of every single relevant band, and even some irrelevant ones (this isn’t true, but it sure seemed like it). They also got, inexplicably, the best and most regarded rock journalists out there today to comment on the importance of metal. Famous authors and critics like David Fricke and Chuck Klosterman may not be household names to you, but they are my Dickens and Twain. Plus, Matt Pinfield does the narration (a perfect choice). Here’s an outline of the four chapters and the bands and subjects they covered:
CHAPTER ONE – Welcome to My Nightmare
The first chapter in VH1’s fine rock doc traces metal’s roots in the late 60’s to the “glam metal” era of the early 70’s. Unlike many genres, the history of metal can be traced to one particular town and band; Birmingham, England’s Black Sabbath. The first hour winds down with a good twenty minute discussion on the masked superheroes of the band KISS- probably the most maligned rock outfit ever.
CHAPTER TWO – British Steel
British Steel examines metal’s growing pains during the 70’s when both high-brow rock critics and punk rock threatened its very existence. By decade’s end, bands such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Def Leppard gave birth to what became known as “The New Wave of British Heavy Metal” (a genre that, in later years, heavily influenced American bands like Metallica).
CHAPTER THREE – Looks That Kill
The third hour of Heavy takes the metal fans to the sunny shores of California and examines the rise of groups like Quiet Riot and Motley Crue. The documentary is fair to the bands who, while hardworking, struggled to gain acceptance in the critical world. It also takes a look at the mock documentary “This is Spinal Tap”- a movie that mocked the world of metal in the 80’s.
CHAPTER FOUR – Seek and Destroy
The final and best chapter chronicles metal in the 90’s, today and beyond. Offering a no holds bar look at serious issues like the Columbine massacre, Seek and Destroy puts the music into a social context while also dissecting the musical and cultural impact of bands like Guns n’ Roses and Metallica, Korn and Limp Bizkit.
I can honestly say that I have never seen a television documentary as thoughtful and complete as Heavy. I hope that the VH1 brass is smart enough to put this sucker on DVD because I think it will sell well. One thing that the doc makes perfectly clear (and that nobody can deny) is that metal fans are the most loyal and rabid fans of any genre of music. They are like loyal pets that stay by their owner through thick and thin. People buy these records (if not by the millions) out of a sense of obligation.
I can only hope (since it is now June and Metal Month is over) that VH1 doesn’t abandon their coverage of rock related material. MTV has their own thing going; we really don’t need any more Laguna Beaches. Please, VH1, keep the Metal coming.