10 essential metal documentaries

There are some stories in metal that just need to be told. The history; the personalities; the ground breaking music. That’s why Grater has put together the following list of 10 essential metal documentaries.

Some of these films are about metal on a global scale, some take a look at the scene from a national level, some dive into a metal sub genre, some focus on a particular band and others shine the spotlight on one musician.

10. Slow Southern Steel (2010)

Slow Southern Steel is a film about heavy music in the modern American South, as told by the very people who have created this music during the last two decades. Shot in back alleys, parking lots, and the seedy green rooms of the dirtiest clubs that the Bible Belt failed to snuff out, these diehard musicians discuss their love of music and the south, as well as the difficulties, contradictions, and insanity that haunt every southern artist.

9. Such Hawks Such Hounds (2008)

Such Hawks explores the music and musicians of the American hard rock underground circa 1970-2007, focusing on the psychedelic and 70s proto-metal-derived styles that have in recent years formed a rich body of un-classifiable sounds.

8. Metal Down Under (2014)

Since the late 1970s a thriving underground scene of extreme music has continued to evolve in Australia. Metal Down Under takes a look at the bands, people and events that have shaped this unique slice of Australian history. More than just the music, we meet the characters that make metal in Australia what it is today. From promoters, radio hosts and magazine editors, to band members and extreme fans, Metal Down Under introduces you to a world you either didn’t want to know existed, or have been a part of all your life.

7. Until The Light Takes Us (2008)

Until The Light Takes Us tells the story of black metal. Part music scene and part cultural uprising, black metal rose to worldwide notoriety in the mid-nineties when a rash of suicides, murders, and church burnings accompanied the explosive artistic growth and output of a music scene that would forever redefine what heavy metal is and what it stands for to other musicians, artists and music fans world-wide.

Until The Light Takes Us goes behind the highly sensationalised media reports of “Satanists running amok in Europe” to examine the complex and largely misunderstood principles and beliefs that led to this rebellion against both Christianity and modern culture.

6. Slipknot – Hellbound (2015)

The masked 9-piece heavy metal band from Des Moines, Iowa first descended on the UK in 1999 when they released their debut self-titled album. 16 years and five album releases later, Daniel P Carter gains exclusive access to the band backstage at the final show of their first UK tour in six years. Here he catches up with band members Corey Taylor, Shawn Crahan and Jim Root about their long awaited return to the UK following the death of founding member Paul Gray and the departure of drummer Joey Jordison.

5. As The Palaces Burn (2014)

As the Palaces Burn originally sought to follow Lamb of God on tour; however, the story took a dramatic turn when singer Randy Blythe was arrested on charges of manslaughter. What followed has left the world on the edge of their seats.

4. Death By Metal (2016)

The formula for movies about bands dictates that victory is seized from the jaws of mortality in the final act. This is where things get weird. Death’s Chuck Schuldiner perished during the moment of heavy metal’s weakest ebb, and possibly the quietest moment of his own career. The drawling guitar demon in the kitty cat shirt will not rise again to tour county fairs, swap one-liners on late-night TV, and jam with Judas Priest at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But this documentary itself joins reissues, partial reunion tours, and an international reawakening as part of a decade-long ascent for Death to its proper place of high dominion.

3. Lemmy (2010)

In Lemmy, directors Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski explore the amazing life and career of heavy metal pioneer and cultural icon Lemmy Kilmister, the life force behind the enduring, influential band Motorhead. Over more than four decades, the drug-fueled, raspy-voiced Kilmisters career has intersected with many of the touchstone moments in rock: He saw the Beatles at the Cavern Club, he served as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, he mentored Sid Vicious and played in both Merseybeat and psychedelic rock bands before fusing punk and metal and thus providing the inspiration for thrash metals with Motorhead.

2. Viva The Underdogs (2020)

Viva The Underdogs follows Parkway Drive’s 15-year journey to become international headliners on the world’s biggest metal music festivals. It also includes most of the band’s Wacken Open Air headlining set; a chaotic explosion of heavy music, pyrotechnics and suspense. Self-funded, self-managed and committing to over 100 tour stops, in Viva The Underdogs, Parkway Drive recruit 40-plus crew members and fill six semi-trailers with cutting edge audio visual equipment and pyrotechnics. But is it enough to earn their spot at the top of the world’s biggest rock festivals?

Viva The Underdogs will be available for rent and purchase via Amazon, iTunes, Google or Vimeo from April 24.

1. Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (2005)

Sam Dunn, a 30-year old anthropologist, decided to study the plight of a different culture, one he has been a part of since he was a 12-year-old: the culture of heavy metal. Dunn sets out on a global journey to find out why this music has been consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned and yet is loved so passionately by its millions of fans. Along the way, he explores metal’s obsession with some of life’s most provocative subjects – sexuality, religion, violence and death – and discovers some things about the culture that even he can’t defend. Shot on location in the UK, Germany, Norway, Canada and the US, this documentary was a ground breaker. It is both a defence of a long-misunderstood art form and a window for the outsider into the spectacle that is heavy metal.

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