REVIEW: ‘Metal Lords’ has a Lot of Heart

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Metal Lords - But Why Tho

Metal Lords is the newest movie to hit Netflix on April 8th, 2022. Produced by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, directed by Peter Sollet (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist), and written by D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones), this movie pulls you into the lives of two teens navigating the pains of high school, starting a rock band and getting a girlfriend.

I think it would be easy to brush Metal Lords off if you aren’t fans of heavy metal because this movie centers on metal as a huge aspect of the main characters’ identities. We have two main characters to focus on. Jaeden Martell plays Kevin, a regular kid in the marching band. He’s not into metal but his best friend  Hunter, portrayed by Aidan Greensmith, lives and breathes it. Hunter is obsessed with having him and Kevin make their band, Skullfucker, the winner of this year’s battle of the bands.

Both Martell and Greensmith really nail the teenage angst roles in a way that feels universal. They’re both outsiders, have stressed relationships with their parents, and want to fit in but don’t want to conform. It paves the perfect road to escape with music. In their first encounter with underage drinking at a party, the two run into another band from their high school covering The Shape of You by Ed Sheeran. In a great display of honest musicality, you can feel that not only is music important to the characters but having all of the actors actually partaking in it was imperative.

All of the notes weren’t hit, but it felt refreshing to watch a movie that wasn’t striving for perfection but for an honest atmosphere. These kids love music whether they’re good at it or not. They’re dedicated to getting better even though they know it sucks. They read about their idols being addicted to alcohol and drugs and recognize that they don’t want to be like their idols, but better. It’s simple, sweet, and brings me back. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

The history of metal is displayed in a really fun montage that weaves you through classics like Pantera, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Slipknot, Opeth, and so many more. . War Pigs by Black Sabbath overtakes the screen as we see Hunter and Kevin lose themselves in metal and find what it means to them. Metal as a genre gets a bad rep because of the Satanic Panic and the darker, moodier themes it explores. To see these kids come to their own conclusions about metal being a commitment, a lifestyle, an avenue to express themselves, and a home, makes my heart really damn happy.

My biggest gripe with this movie is that it follows a formulaic narrative. Two teens can’t fit in and they attempt to rebel against their school’s stereotypes. They need the new girl Emily, played by Isis Hainsworth,  they fight over her, friends break up, and come back together stronger than ever. The characterization of Kevin has story beats that follow him through finding himself outside of his friendship with Hunter. He deals with crushing on girls and learns how that just because alcohol makes you confident, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. He develops a really healthy relationship with Emily who plays the cello and is totally metal in the way she doesn’t care about what other people think of her.

Kevin realizes that high school is trivial and that it’s important to have friends. Hunter, a child of divorce, has some of the worst character moments and dialogue in the film. He’s brash, insensitive, picky, and demeaning. Outside of his love of metal, it’s very difficult to like him for most of the movie but it all comes together at the battle of the bands.

What the story lacks in plot, it is carried by feel-good messages. The ending of this movie makes me give out the biggest toothy grin. My favorite message of Metal Lords is that it’s okay to be weird.

I love the sense of belonging that Emily, Hunter, and Kevin eventually find. Some of the best friends I’ve made have been through our mutual love of heavy metal when we were teens. This is something to watch to jam out to your favorite heavy tunes and remember that belonging starts in your own heart with your favorite music and your favorite friends. So what if you play the cello and want to use that talent to cover Pantera? I was a junior in high school when my end-of-the-year orchestra project was covering Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” on viola.

Weird kids exist and that’s okay.

Metal Lords is now streaming, exclusively on Netflix.


Metal Lords
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

What the story lacks in plot, it is carried by feel-good messages. The ending of this movie makes me give out the biggest toothy grin.