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Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (2005)



Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 29
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 3

Made by a metalhead, this documentary of the musical genre both informs and entertains with its range of interviewees.


Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 1

Made by a metalhead, this documentary of the musical genre both informs and entertains with its range of interviewees.



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 9,468

My Rating

Movie Info

Sam Dunn is a 30-year-old anthropologist. He's also a lifelong metal fan. After years of studying diverse cultures, Sam turns his academic eye a little closer to home and embarks on an epic journey into the heart of heavy metal. His mission: to figure out why metal music is consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned, even while the tribe that loves it stubbornly holds its ground -- spreading the word, keeping the faith and adopting styles and attitudes that go way beyond the music. Sam

May 23, 2006

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All Critics (34) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (3) | DVD (6)

The metal scene emerges throughout the documentary as the recruitment center of an army of misfits, where the outcasts of the world can seek each other out based on their love of the angsty, eardrum-destroying tunes their parents warned them about.

May 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This documentary about one of the most loathed, lampooned and beloved music genres isn't the kind of film to rock your world, though it may well inspire laughter.

April 21, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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It'll make you want to dig out your Whitesnake T-shirt. It might even convince Tipper Gore that heavy metal thunder is all in good fun.

April 21, 2006
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A lightweight fanboy valentine for ostensibly heavyweight music.

April 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
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Full of splendid social and psychological insights.

April 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Interviews with metal practitioners such as Tony Iommi, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and Dee Snider, journalists and academic types paint a compelling portrait of a vibrant society of outsiders.

April 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brings on a variety of eloquent voices from both the fanbase and the gods of metal themselves.

October 20, 2007 Full Review Source:

The success of Dunn's film in support of heavy metal music might be the result of not offering the audience too much music

November 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Enjoyable whether you're a fan of the music or not.

May 6, 2006 Full Review Source:

A documentary that preaches to the converted if ever there was one, but Dunn's enthusiasm for the subject and the range of pretension and humour of his interviewees makes for fun viewing.

May 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A film that manages to be intelligent without being boring, making it one of the better music documentaries in recent memory.

April 21, 2006 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

The movie is woefully short on concert footage, which could have shown us the power of metal instead of just telling us.

April 21, 2006
Salt Lake Tribune

It's a measure of Dunn's success that even a total nonfan like myself could find his journey interesting.

April 20, 2006

You might not go out and buy the latest Slipknot album after seeing it, but you will understand why some disenfranchised kid would.

April 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

Acts not as the window for the outsider into the spectacle of heavy metal music, as the filmmakers proclaim it to be, but an unprovoked fan's defense for liking what he likes

April 14, 2006 Full Review Source:

There's so much information and so many finely honed arguments in this ultimately joyous film that it's liable to send audiences scurrying home to their computers to download the bands they've just heard.

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Those who only remember metal as an MTV aberration from the 1980s will learn a lot from Dunn's film, and metal heads will find vindication for their dedication to a music that has been condemned and dismissed as infantile and depraved.

March 21, 2006 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Audience Reviews for Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

As a diehard metalhead, I was astounded at how much care that Sam Dunn has given to the genre. He truly gives the respect the genre deserves. Metal: A Headbanger's Journey takes a closer look to the metal genre. In the documentary, Sam Dunn tries to answer one question, "Why is metal so controversial, yet so loved?" The film features terrific interviews done by the legends that forged this incredible genre. Dunn is able to provide solid evidence as to why Metal is dismissed by the mainstream. As a diehard fan of the genre, I was very happy to see my question answered. For over ten years have I asked the same question that Dunn did. After viewing this documentary, I thought to myself, well this genre is an elitist genre, the people who listen to it don't conform to the standards of trendy music of today, thus it makes loving metal that much cooler. Just the fact the the trendy MTV crowd misunderstands this epic genre makes me love metal even more. Dunn presents valid arguments to his points and that also shows that him being a metalhead doesn't necessarily make him stupid as the mainstream crowd presents us metalheads to be. Dunn asks intelligent questions, and despite that he's surrounded by his idols, he is extremely professional. One interview kinda pissed me off, the one with Mayhem, the guy was being a really douchbag with the director. Dunn asked him a buinch of questions, and the guy from Mayhem just kept telling him to fuck off. The interview after that was with Ronnie James Dio. Dio as always is kindhearted and he was very kind to the crew. that was one of my favorite interviews. Dio was the man, and always will be. Dunn has done a terrific with assembling a collection of great interviews, one of the best is Dee Snider talking about the PMRC censorship of metal bands. Snider proved that metal musicians are intelligent, and not some stupid uneducated people. Other worthy interviews are with Alice Cooper, Tom Araya, Kerry King and Tony Iommi. Metal: A Headbanger's Journey is terrific music documentary, it answers many questions and gives true respect to this misunderstood genre of music. One of the reasons that this documentary works so well is that it was made by fans for fans. One phenomenal Journey for metal fans everywhere. The appeal of Metal music has lasted longer than many careers of pop stars of today, in many ways the genre is still young, as it continues to reinvent itself and be relevant with today's times. Watch out Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, METAL IS HERE TO STAY!!!
September 24, 2010
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

This is one of my favorite documentaries, not only because I'm a metalhead myself, but because it gives true insight into a large global cultural movement. That this movie was helmed by an anthropologist metalhead increased this full perspective of its subjects. Sam Dunn asks intelligent questions of the "heroes and gods of metal" so that even diehard fans will gain some insight on the art form. Dunn's talent at interviewing also creates some very compelling and full portraits of a spectrum of metal fans themselves. Dunn is also incredibly tactful when dealing with the "bad boys" of metal who just want to curse and fling beer at the camera, or especially the Satanic black metal musicians in Northern Europe (mostly Norway) who advocate violence and have prior committed or advocated terrorist acts of political natures. Overall, Dunn creates a fantastic and extremely informative doc, thorough, and one of the better music docs I have ever seen. This doc works for people completely oblivious to the metal scene as well as the seasoned headbanger. The DVD 2 disc edition is also required to get the best out of this doc. While what had the edited feature stands perfectly on its own and will be enough for some viewers, the extended interviews with metal's legends and revolutionary contemporaries are must-watch for rock fans or musicians.

This movie also introduced me to tons of great metal bands I didn't know about and I've also gotten around to listening to legendary bands that have been on my "discographies to digest" list; Right now I am listening to: Hammerfall and Candlemass in the former category, and Rush and Iron Maiden in the latter. \m/,.\m/
April 9, 2008

Super Reviewer

The first ever documenatry about heavy metal culture, from the point of view of someone who is immersed in it himself. I saw this at the Toronto film festival when it came out and I still love it. It's one of my favorite documentaries, although some of his concluding points kind of came out of the blue.
September 15, 2006

Super Reviewer

Anthropologist Sam Dunn directs this documentary about an under appreciated music genre with love, and it shows. It's not everyday you watch a documentary and say, "Wow that movie was fun", but this one will please both die-hard fans and those who find metal an abysmal art form.
January 17, 2008

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Metal: A Headnager's Journey (UK)
  • Metal : voyage au coeur de la bête (FR)
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