Too many things happened this past week. Mumbai Indians fans got one of the biggest disappointments of their lives, and so did Manchester United’s loyal followers. Two back-to-back South Indian releases sent Nepali filmmakers into a nationalist frenzy and movie theaters around the country operated for almost 24 hours with midnight and early morning (3am) shows. Among this all, we also celebrated the Nepali New Year.
As the week was heavy, I decided to watch something light, something musical, on Netflix. And what could be better for a metalhead than Netflix’s latest release “Metal Lords”? Written by D.B. Weiss, directed by Peter Sollett and featuring Tom Morello, the legendary guitarist of rock bands Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave as executive music producer, Metal Lords is a coming-of-age movie about a group of misfits who want to rule the world with their hard-hitting music. Think “School of Rock”, but in the present context and a lot heavier.
Glenwood Lake is like any other American high school. Young people from different walks of lives converge there for education. Some are popular for their sports and music choices, while others are bullied for having a different view of themselves and the world around them.
Hunter (Adrian Greensmith) is a facsimile of a high schooler from the 80s—one of the last remaining metal heroes. With long hair and donning sleeveless t-shirts with metal band prints, Hunter is a up and coming shredder who wants to rip the heads off people with his cranked tube amp and overdriven guitars.
Kevin (Jaeden Martell), Hunter’s best friend, bandmate and disciple, is a meek, young, bespectacled lad who thinks he can play drums because he does so for his school marching band to avoid physical-ed classes.
Together, Hunter and Kevin have formed SkullF$cker, a post-death metal duo. At a time when pop and RnB music rule the world as well as their high school, the duo wants to break through with their music. They see the upcoming Battle of Bands music contest in their high school as an opportunity to prove themselves.
But they’re one bass player short and through music ‘seeking and destroying’, they find Emily (Isis Hainsworth) as the perfect match, although her initiation into the band comes with a lot of trouble and changed dynamics between members. Same goes for their participation in the Battle of the Bands as the competition’s dark horse.
The storyline is not fresh. But context matters. Had this been the 80s or the early 90s, Hunter would have been the coolest kid in school with his getup and guitar skills. But the world has changed and now he’s an outcast and so are Kevin and Emily.
The context provides Metal Lords the freshness we all look for in a movie, and the film’s brevity as well as clever writing make it an entertaining watch. For those who have followed music from the past few decades, there are many musical allusions and trivia sneaked in the film’s dialogues. Like the “Didn’t I say no Yokos?,” dialogue that Hunter uses against Kevin in an argument.
Music is the film’s best part. Metal Lords’ soundtrack consist of some of the most popular metal and hard rock numbers like “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica, “Painkiller” by Judas Priest, “Since I Don’t Have You” by Guns N’ Roses—and more. With Tom Morello as music producer, you can expect the film to sound like a well-cut, heavy metal album.
Who should watch it?
Metal Lords is an important film for fans of the heavier genres of music. Ardent ones will find many things to love in the movie. And even if you have little idea of metal music, the film is satisfying enough as a coming-of-age musical that takes up the lives of a group of oddball teens and their struggle to cope with the world.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Drama, music
Director: Peter Sollett
Actors: Isis Hainsworth, Adrian Greensmith, Jaeden Martell