Nalbandian, Bob (Director)
Inside Metal:The L.A. Metal Scene Explodes (DVD)
Released: 2016, Metalrock Films
This month I’ve reviewed five documentaries from across the ages. One covering a band the 70’s (Twisted Sister), a pair from the 80’s (The LA Glam scene), one from the 90’s (At The Gates) and one from post 2000 (Edenbridge). Feel free to read all my reviews of these very different documentaries spanning well over 40 years.
In 2015 I wrote a review of INSIDE METAL the Documentary series. In a sense in that review I sort of made a mistake. It was a two DVD set, each one released and sold separately, and my advance screener was one set, so I made a false assumption. I said I was looking forward to Part II and III, when in reality I reviewed Parts I and II collectively and should have been looking forward to parts III and IV. I feel like I want to go back and order the final full product of Part I and Part II. To rectify this I’ve written two reviews, one for each but they are so similar I’m going to be repeating myself a lot; thus these reviews are pretty identical. To summarize, there are now four movies the series and a fifth coming in the summer of 2017.
The next two movies in the series THE LA METAL SCENES EXPLODES and THE LA METAL SCENE EXPLODES 2 have been released and I have reviewed both of them this month. One more quick note. I can’t get my head around why these are separate. It doesn’t make sense. They are virtually identical in packaging and presentation. Why not economize and make it a two-disc set? It would be cheaper to produce. The only thing I can think of is that if INSDIE METAL was marketed as a single set to distributors and pay-per-view groups, they might shy away because of length. The other reason if the producers at MetalRock Films sell them individually people, like me, will obviously want both of them so the producers might realize another dollar or two more profit, selling two short DVD’s, instead of one long one.
THE LA METAL SCENE EXPLODES series is your standard DVD, no booklet and has decent enough graphics. The film produced by Bob Nalbandian runs a little under 90 minutes and has a dozen or so special features which are just stuff from the cutting room floor. These extended interviews and stuff are totally worth watching. The film picks off where exactly where the first two PIONEERS OF L.A. HARD ROCK AND METAL left off. Those films covered roughly 1975-1981 or so and the new films cover 1981 to 1986. They production team including producer Warren Croyle (Evil Dead, Laaz Rockit and many more) had some help from Joe Floyd (Warrior) and the whole thing is narrated by John Bush. It is really is a gang of veteran LA dudes making this thing work. They all know their stuff because they were there the first time around!
THE LA METAL SCENE EXPLODES is a standard talking head documentary but with lots of little extra features, tons of still shots, all nicely edited in, some stock footage of LA and a killer soundtrack. They really dug into the vaults as we get to look at gold records, old tickets stubs, flyers, posters, hear some old KNAC radio interviews and more. The roster of people who get interviewed is extremely impressive. There are lots of big names like Lars Ulrich, Don Dokken and Stephen Pearcy and a whole host of lesser known guys from bands like Eden, London, Steeler August Redmoon, and countless more. There are interviews with guys who were sort of in that whole scene but from other areas, people like Dave Meniketti (Y&T) from San Francisco, Jamie St. James (Black and Blue) from Portland and a surprisingly inclusion of Roger Romeo from the under-rated Legs Diamond from San Antonio. These folks all provide perspective of the LA scene back in the day. There is quite a bit of cross-over but the film flows well going from chapter to chapter discussing the impact of various bands, image, certain clubs and more. The film discusses the role of the independent labels such as Enigma and Metal Blade, but not too much about Shrapnel, even though many of the artists are featured and interviewed. The role of the NWOBHM is tackled and certain legendary early 80’s gigs like Saxon and Raven are mentioned. I would have liked to see a bit more emphasis on W.A.S.P and how influential the elder statesmen, Blackie Lawless was, having mentored lots of guys like Nikki Sixx. Fortunately we get some good interviews with Randy Piper and a mostly semi-coherent Chris Holmes. Other segments include the role of MTV and the evolution of the scene from Metal into a more glam style. It is very comprehensive!
Despite not being from LA, I grew up in that era and bought all that stuff (on cassette!), so it was like watching an old homecoming, hearing some great old songs, seeing what the guys or girls from Leatherwolf, Malice, Bitch, Autograph or Sound Barrier looked like back then and now. There are lots of mirrored shades in these interviews! It is a great history lesson and for those revisionists who feel that bands like Ratt are not Metal, need to go and watch this documentary to see their role in the early L.A. Metal scene. I cannot recommend this movie enough! Feel free to read my review of Part 2!