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Nalbandian, Bob (Director)
Inside Metal:The L.A. Metal Scene Explodes 2 (DVD)
April 2017
Released: 2016, Metalrock Films
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: JP

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 2 is an exact and direct continuation of Part I, the same interviews, the same locales, the same people and style. The film can’t be faulted for that. For example if you sit and interview Don Dokken or Lars Ulrich or Lizzy Borden for one hour each (at least!) they are going to have a lot to say! Multiply that by 30 or 40 other people, that adds up to hundreds of hours of footage! Editing this thing must have been a chore! The director, Bob Nalbandian chooses to interview tons of other types of folks; industry people, promoters, club owners, radio personalities, journalists, agents, managers, all the supporting cast of characters who made the stars on stage shine a bit brighter.

This film has cool segments on the various clubs and regional difference in the L.A. area a small area of roughly 30 miles. This seems to weird to me where in Canada people routinely drive literally hundreds and hundreds of miles and back to see a gig and yet there were these differences between Hollywood, The Valley and Orange County that seem magnified and people wouldn’t venture out too far out of their tiny little area. There is an interesting chapter on the PRMC an interesting segment on the Ronnie James Dio STARS project and some great interviews with the few pioneering women in the bands and industry. There is some talk about the role of the major labels who started to sign these independent DIY bands and how money and power changed the rock game from friendly and fun into something a little more serious, a business. There was an interesting segment that explains a growing division between the glam guys and the thrash guys and the shredders. That left a small void, where many of my favorite bands fell, (W.A.S.P., Lizzy Borden, Armored Saint and Malice etc) who were too heavy/ugly for the glam scene but too melodic/theatrical for the surging underground thrash scene of Metallica, Slayer and Dark Angel.

The role of virtuosity is discussed at length and in a related segment, probably my favourite part of the film, a lengthy segment discussing the incredible role that the arrival of Yngwie J. Malmsteen had on LA. This kid of 18 from Sweden shows up and blows everyone away when he joins Steeler. There is an endless parade of people saying he is the best ever and how he single-handedly made everyone from George Lynch to Marty Friedman, have to up their game. Since he is my favourite guitarist of all time this brought a smile to my face, validating my feelings, in that I’m not alone thinking he is the best ever.

Also speaking of validating feelings, I’ve said for years that if Axl Rose had any balls he would admit that he ripped off his style directly from Richard Black of Shark Island. To my delight, there is an interview with Black, who speaks directly to this topic at the end of the film, and how he still sort of habours a (mild) grudge towards Axl Rose who, when he arrived from Nebraska (or wherever he was from) he spent tons of time at various clubs watching and taping Shark Island on VHS and perfecting his moves based on the style of Black. The unfortunate irony is that Shark Island never quite made it, well they sort of did, with one album on a major label in 1989, (which is an awesome album by the way) and people started to say that Black ripped off Axl! The height of injustice but rock and roll is a crazy game. The whole movie is full of amazing little anecdotes and insights like this.

Naturally, THE L.A. METAL SCENE EXPLODES compliments Part 1 perfectly and you can’t really watch one without the other. You can order both directly from MetalRock so you can see the cool bonus features that will not be on your PPV providers and we can all look forward to the next installment in this superb series focusing on the LA Thrash scene!

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