13 December 2012 | dfle3
Interesting exploration of the origins and branches of heavy metal
I was pleasantly surprised to see that this documentary series about heavy metal was by the same person who made the documentary "Metal: a headbanger's journey" (reviewed at this site)...Sam Dunn. Sam grew up being a fan of the genre and also went on to become an academic anthropologist, so he is quite articulate in his analysis of the music he is so passionate about.
In this series he looks at the influences of heavy metal (odd suggestions like jazz and classical music as well as the more predictable genres like blues), as well as the variety of forms the genre has split into...episodes are devoted to such topics.
Not sure if I have all of my notes on this series on hand, but of the notes that I do have, here are some things that I noted or would have liked more information on etc: * Black Sabbath's famous self-title song started out by their bass player - 'Geezer' Butler - playing classical composer Gustav Holst's doomy piece "Mars". Black Sabbath's guitarist Tony Iommi liked what Butler was playing and played that classically inspired riff on guitar...and that became their famous self-titled song. Holst's 'riff' was played by brass instruments (e.g. tuba) on his composition.
* There was some old black and white footage of rock'n'roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis playing a song on his piano in front of a studio audience. It looked to me like the teenage males were headbanging to the music! * I would have liked some more depth to the interviews sometimes. E.g. just from a curiosity standpoint I would have liked to have known why Saxon's Bruce Dickinson decided to join Iron Maiden. Did Bruce feel that Iron Maiden had a better chance at commercial success than Saxon? History has borne that out in any case.
* An episode devoted to more extreme forms of heavy metal would have been appreciated. When I surf radio stations - so to speak - I sometimes come across programmes devoted to heavy metal and often you'll hear heavily distorted vocals and/or very fast rhythms. So, I think that genres like speed metal, death metal and black metal could have been focused on in one episode at least. Or even an episode devoted to more fruity varieties of heavy metal...bands with opera singers or which use symphonic orchestration...stuff like that.
In any case, there are lots of interesting clips and interviews with the musicians etc. Sometimes it feels that Sam pretends to be ignorant on musical matters in order to illuminate for the fan something about the genre...or perhaps it is a process he actually went through and is replaying it for the benefit of the audience...an example would be when he wonders about the influence of jazz on heavy metal.
There are 11 episodes in this series...I think each episode was around the 50 minute length mark. Topics and bands range from the well known to the obscure.