Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (2005) Review:

A Heavy Metal journey.


Director: Sam Dunn and Scott McFadyen

Runtime: 96 minutes

Plot: Dunn takes viewers through a history of the music genre Metal. Through a series of interviews with talents such as Dio and Lemmy, Sam Dunn teaches us where the genre came from, how it is as popular as it is, and where it is going.

Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey has a simple premise – telling the story of the often undervalued genre of Metal music. To fans of the genre there are some great interviews, interesting facts and anecdotes and for non-fans? They may find themselves with a new-found respect for the genre, as well as the stuff I’ve listed above.

The story of metal is told very conventionally, we start before the start and are taken through the genre chronologically and then shows different aspects of the genre, such as fans, controversy and even aspects of masculinity and sexuality. However, there is one part of the film that takes us to the cold lands of Scandinavia, and Black Metal – where we are shown true controversy and blasphemy: a scary time for fans of the music and the church-goers of Scandinavia.

The amount of material the director’s cover is huge, and some interesting discussions are formed through interviews with musicians and people involved in the industry, particularly the interview with Dee Snider, giving an analysis of the attack on Heavy Metal music in the 1980s. However, I feel the film is a little unfinished, and an extra half-hour would have worked great.

The film's greatest interview comes with a lesson, drinking and interviewing don't mix.
The film’s greatest interview comes with a lesson, drinking and interviewing don’t mix.

There is not enough emphasis on newer metal music, Dunn’s love for the older subgenres is clear, but I believe he gets in the films way when it comes to documenting newer areas of the genre. Disappointingly, the camerawork is quite static, as the majority of the film is built around talking head interviews – more emphasis on live shows and fan responses would have added some more energy into the film.

As a history lesson, Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey is great, but as an all-engrossing look at the genre, I feel some more time spent on developments such as Melodic Death Metal and the Gothenburg scene would have been great and interviews with bands such as Opeth and In Flames could have been interesting. Indeed, I feel the glossing over of aspects of the genre Dunn does not really appreciate is an issue with him, he is clearly a metal fan (tells us he is a few times), but perhaps the film would’ve been better if he wasn’t a metal fan? Just food-for-thought.


Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey is an interesting documentary but one I feel should have been longer; more time spent on modern Metal developments would have been great and provided a good ending to the film. As it stands though, the film is an enjoyable, interesting documentary that is well-made and worth a watch.

Great fun and interesting, but flawed.



2 thoughts on “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (2005) Review:

    1. I know what you mean, he does seem to get in the way of the film at times. At the same time, I think he comes across really well, the series Metal Evolution is better I think.

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