Disaster rock docs

by DGO Staff

Want to indulge in a little sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll — from a distance? Well, well. We have found your unicorn.

It’s no secret that the world of rock ‘n roll comes fertile with disaster. Long stretches on the road, professional uncertainty and every nasty vice that comes with the lifestyle (everything from overdoses and STDs to revolting eating habits) primes the pump for depression and interpersonal conflict.

When money and pride are on the line, fistfights and firings become very real possibilities. And when they do, the fireworks can be intense. Here we examine five unique documentaries that catch metal acts in the process of melting down and how they recovered — or burnt out forever.

Some Kind of Monster

Perhaps the granddaddy of heavy metal rock docs, 2004’s Monster looks at icons Metallica in the midst of an existential crisis. Directors Joe Berliner and Bruce Sinofsky captured the interpersonal tension, particularly that between lead vocalist / guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. The vitriol was palpable.

The film also includes their search for a fresh bassist after the recent departure of Jason Newsted. By film’s end, they settle upon former Suicidal Tendencies member Robert Trujillo, whose style and decent juju helps breathe new life into the band.

Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone

Although you’ve likely never heard of them before, Fishbone remains extreme-ly influential. Loosely described as a blend of rock, R&B, punk, metal and ska, their distinctive logo can often be spot-ted in the form of T-shirts donned by dis-criminating listeners. As their popularity grew in the early 90’s, it seemed they were destined to become megastars.

Upon the death of his mother, guitar-ist Kendall Jones abruptly quit and left to live with his father in what’s been de-scribed as a cult, renouncing his former band and even calling them “demonic”.

After his band mates attempted an intervention, they suddenly found them-selves in court on attempted kidnapping charges. Thus began a downward slide that continues to this day, despite their persistent musical greatness.

Quiet Riot – Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back

Everybody remembers “Cum On Feel the Noize” and “Metal Health” from Quiet Riot’s smash hit, Metal Health, the 6x platinum album released in 1983. What casual fans don’t know is the tragi-comic tale behind the rotating cast of players that has turned the group into a revolving door. The picture centers upon drummer Frankie Banali, whose desire to make the goup work is spurred on by the death of singer Kevin DuBrow. His des-perate desire to fill DuBrow’s absence and heal his past is equal parts sad, funny and heartwarming.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Praise was heaped upon Anvil! when it was initially released in 2008. Director Sacha Gervasi’s lauded rockumentary about Canadian metalers Anvil details how a band can be intensely loved and often imitated, yet never acquire finan-cial success.

Thin crowds, missed trains and lack of promotion all become sources of frustration and tensions fray. In the end, their desire to perform overcomes all obstacles.

Breaking a Monster

If you’re not familiar with Unlocking the Truth, you’re not alone; after all, they never really got off the ground. When a group of African-American seventh-graders began shredding in the middle of Times Square for tips, a video of the talented youngsters went viral and soon they had the industry breath-ing down their necks, hungry to capital-ize upon the next big thing.

Eventually, they signed an astronom-ical $1.8 million record deal with Sony. During the contract signing, they toyed with their phones and generally spaced out, resulting in a tongue lashing con-cerning their immaturity, as if a bunch of middle schoolers should be expected to act like twenty-somethings.

Director Luke Meyer’s crew captured the kids at the center of the maelstrom and documented the endless series of unwise decisions that caused the promis-ing act to flame out like a Roman candle.

Many great documentaries concerning musicians exist, but when one narrows the focus specifically to heavy metal these are some of the best. Anybody ab-sorbing these cinematic tales of caution will have their suspicions well-confirmed. Yes, living the life of a hardcore artist is dangerous territory. If you haven’t already, seek out one of these recom-mended gems and see for yourself what can go wrong when heavy metal is your business.

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