Fearful Symmetry

Film. Books. Comics. TV. Music.

Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey

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Sam Dunn is a thirty year old anthropologist who wrote his graduate thesis on Guatemalan refugees. He then moved on to study a group he has himself been a member of since he was a teenager – heavy metal fans. Sam goes on a journey around the world to talk to the fans of an art form beloved by those involved by generally dismissed by the critics and the more general music fans. Though as an aside I wouldn’t agree with him that there are no casual metal fans, I and several people I know include a love of certain metal bands and songs along with other music.

Dunn also looks at the history of the metal, not just the usual ‘it started with Sabbath’ but also Hendrix and Cream and then back to Wager and the insane double bass on steroids – the octobass, looking for the heavier sound’s origin in classical music. In a wide ranging study Dunn also looks at aspects of sexism and class in the subject such as how many bands found their origins in the industrial heartlands like Black Sabbath.

Motorhead’s Lemmy is always good value for money and here he comments on many aspects of the genre especially groupies. Dee Sinder from 80s glam-metal band Twisted Sister is also very funny as he goes into detail on how he defended Metal from attacks by Tipper Gore and the The Parents Music Resource Centre.

Dunn also includes time to examine the more controversial aspects of Heavy Metal such as Norwegian Black metal and its links with Satanism and church burnings. There is an interview at a metal festival with Necrobutcher from Mayhem (a band surrounded with controversy including suicide and murder) where you actually worry about Dunn’s safety.

May be Dunn tires to cover too much ground to thinly in his study and there are certain major figures missing, such as Ozzy Osbourne and any member of Metallica, to call it completely comprehensive but Dunn does provides an involving overview to the subject, leaving you wanting more.


Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 10, 2009 at 9:22 pm

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