Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

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Metal: A Headbanger's Journey
Original Theatrical poster
Directed byJessica Joy Wise
Sam Dunn
Scot McFadyen
Produced bySam Dunn
Scot McFadyen
Sam Feldman
StarringSam Dunn
CinematographyBrendan Steacy
Edited byMike Munn
Distributed bySeville Pictures
Warner Home Video
Release date
  • 2005 (2005)
Running time
96 minutes

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey is a 2005 documentary film directed by Sam Dunn with Scot McFadyen and Jessica Wise. The film follows 31-year-old Dunn, a Canadian anthropologist, who has been a heavy metal fan since the age of 12. Dunn sets out across the world to uncover the various opinions on heavy metal music, including its origins, culture, controversy, and the reasons it is loved by so many people. The film made its debut at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, and was released as a two-disc special edition DVD in the US on 19 September 2006.

A follow-up to the film titled Global Metal premiered at the Bergen International Film Festival on 17 October 2007, and saw limited release in theatres in June 2008.[1] Dunn has also elaborated upon his "Heavy Metal Family Tree" in the VH1 series Metal Evolution, which focuses on one subgenre per episode.


The film discusses the traits and originators of some of metal's many subgenres, including the new wave of British heavy metal, power metal, nu metal, glam metal, thrash metal, black metal, and death metal. Dunn uses a family-tree-type flowchart to document some of the most popular metal subgenres. The film also explores various aspects of heavy metal culture. Notable segments include Dunn taking a trip to the Wacken Open Air festival, an interview with Dee Snider providing an analysis of the PMRC attack on heavy metal music, and an interview with several Norwegian black metal bands.


The most insightful information given in the film comes from candid interviews with popular artists from metal's past and present. Notable interviews come from:

Artist Band Birthplace
Angela Gossow Arch Enemy Cologne, Germany
Ann Boleyn Hellion Centralia, Washington
Tom Morello Rage Against the Machine New York City, New York
Ronnie James Dio Dio, Black Sabbath, Rainbow Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Tony Iommi Black Sabbath Aston, United Kingdom
Alice Cooper Alice Cooper Detroit, Michigan
George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher Cannibal Corpse Baltimore, Maryland
Alex Webster Cannibal Corpse Akron, New York
Ihsahn Emperor Notodden, Norway
Samoth Emperor Tromsø, Norway
Grutle Kjellson Enslaved Rogaland, Norway
Kim McAuliffe Girlschool London, United Kingdom
Jackie Chambers Girlschool Leeds, United Kingdom
Gaahl Gorgoroth Espedal, Norway
Jørn Inge Tunsberg Hades Almighty Norway
Bruce Dickinson Iron Maiden Worksop, United Kingdom
Mercedes Lander Kittie London, Ontario, Canada
Morgan Lander Kittie London, Ontario, Canada
James "Munky" Shaffer Korn Rosedale, California
Randy Blythe Lamb of God Richmond, Virginia
Mark Morton Lamb of God Richmond, Virginia
Blasphemer Mayhem Norway
Necrobutcher Mayhem Norway
Vince Neil Mötley Crüe Los Angeles, California
Lemmy Motörhead Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
Geddy Lee Rush North York, Ontario, Canada
Tom Araya Slayer Viña del Mar, Chile
Kerry King Slayer Los Angeles, California
Joey Jordison Slipknot / Murderdolls Des Moines, Iowa
Corey Taylor Slipknot / Stone Sour Des Moines, Iowa
John Kay Steppenwolf Tilsit, Germany
Dee Snider Twisted Sister Massapequa, New York
Snake Voivod Jonquière, Quebec, Canada
Piggy Voivod Jonquière, Quebec, Canada
Doro Pesch Warlock, Doro Düsseldorf, Germany
Rob Zombie White Zombie, Rob Zombie Haverhill, Massachusetts



"Definitive metal family tree"[edit]

The chart from the film documents Dunn's view on the progression of subgenres of metal that have spawned over time as well as other styles of rock (i.e. hard rock, shock rock, punk rock, and hardcore) that have influence these styles of metal, while also attempting to list the prime examples of bands that fall into each category. Below is a typed version of that chart, which can be found on the second disc of the film's special edition DVD package. A new version was presented in the related TV series Metal Evolution which included a new "Pre-Metal" field that listed non-metal bands that had an influence on heavy metal and also listed additional bands as examples of the various subgenres.

The film's flow chart of metal genres.
Cream; Jimi Hendrix; Blue Cheer; Deep Purple; Led Zeppelin; MC5; Mountain; The Stooges; Black Sabbath
Thin Lizzy; Blue Öyster Cult; Aerosmith; AC/DC; Ted Nugent
Arthur Brown; Alice Cooper; New York Dolls; Kiss; Ozzy Osbourne; W.A.S.P.
The Ramones; The Damned; Sex Pistols; The Clash; The Dead Boys
Scorpions; Judas Priest; Rainbow; Accept; Manowar; Dio; Yngwie J. Malmsteen; Helloween; Blind Guardian; HammerFall; Primal Fear
Motörhead; Saxon; Iron Maiden; Angel Witch; Girlschool; Tygers of Pan Tang; Diamond Head
Uriah Heep; Rush; Queensrÿche; Savatage; Fates Warning; Voivod; Dream Theater; Meshuggah; Symphony X; Evergrey
Slade; Sweet; Hanoi Rocks; Mötley Crüe; Twisted Sister; Poison; Cinderella; Skid Row
Quiet Riot; Van Halen; Whitesnake; Def Leppard; Europe; Dokken; Lita Ford; Ratt; Guns N' Roses; Winger; Warrant; Doro; The Darkness
Witchfinder General; Trouble; Candlemass; Cathedral; Kyuss; Today Is The Day
Agnostic Front; D.O.A.; The Exploited; Bad Brains; Misfits; GBH; Discharge; Dead Kennedys; Minor Threat; Black Flag
Metallica; Slayer; Anthrax; Megadeth; Exodus; Overkill; Kreator; Destruction; Sodom; Testament; Nuclear Assault; Death Angel; Pantera; Sepultura; Children of Bodom
Venom; Bathory; Mercyful Fate; Celtic Frost
Mayhem; Darkthrone; Immortal; Gorgoroth; Emperor; Satyricon; Enslaved; Dimmu Borgir; Cradle of Filth
Napalm Death; Carcass; Repulsion; Exhumed; Extreme Noise Terror; Cephalic Carnage; Brutal Truth
Possessed; Death; Morbid Angel; Obituary; Deicide; Cannibal Corpse; Immolation; Autopsy; Nile; Dying Fetus
Grave; Entombed; At the Gates; Unleashed; Dismember; Arch Enemy; Soilwork; In Flames; Dark Tranquillity; The Haunted
  • Goth Metal (aka Doom Metal on the DVD) (1990–present)
Paradise Lost; Tiamat; Therion; Type O Negative; My Dying Bride; Anathema; Theatre of Tragedy; Katatonia; Opeth
Corrosion of Conformity; Suicidal Tendencies; Dirty Rotten Imbeciles; Machine Head; Stormtroopers of Death; Hatebreed; The Dillinger Escape Plan
Green River; The Melvins; Soundgarden; Mudhoney; Nirvana; Alice in Chains; Mother Love Bone; Stone Temple Pilots; Pearl Jam
Ministry; White Zombie; Godflesh; Nine Inch Nails; Fear Factory; Marilyn Manson; Static-X
Faith No More; Jane's Addiction; Prong; Living Colour; The Smashing Pumpkins; Rage Against the Machine; Tool
Biohazard; KoЯn; Limp Bizkit; Slipknot; Godsmack; Coal Chamber; System of a Down; Disturbed; Kittie
Shadows Fall; Lamb of God; Darkest Hour; Chimaira; Killswitch Engage; Unearth; God Forbid



The film received mostly positive reviews. It currently holds a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 6.9/10 and the critical consensus being: "Made by a metalhead, this documentary of the musical genre both informs and entertains with its range of interviewees."[2]


Some brief controversy arose over the film's depiction of black metal, which many fans of the genre saw as being one-sided and biased during a screening documented in the film. In the special features to the DVD of the film, Dunn attempted a restitution to the concerns of the black metal fans by including an additional featurette.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Global Metal - in Theatres Spring 2008". Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  2. ^ Metal: A Headbanger's Journey on Rotten Tomatoes Retrieved on 18 November 2010

External links[edit]