High school movies come out all the time. They are often similar, with tried and true tropes to get the next generation watching the same stuff as the previous one.
Metal Lords is a bit different. Sure, it’s set in high school, but this isn’t a coming-of-age tale for everyone as much as it is a story about a certain group of people: metal heads.
And it’s a really good movie. I think, for the most part, certain members of the “outsiders” all had a small metal phase or at least knew to avoid the metal heads if they didn’t. They’re not nearly as intense as you would think, but there is always one, who is… And in Metal Lords, that’s Hunter.
On the other hand, there’s Kevin, whose internal monologue starts off the movie with, “All it takes to be great is commitment and sacrifice, which is what metal’s all about. Or maybe it’s about power, or sticking it to the man, or denim, or motorcycles, or speed, or the devil. I don’t totally understand it, but Hunter says I don’t have to.”
Kevin is the more “normal” of the two metal heads in this high school. Personally, I was more of a rocker, a small distinction to the alpha types, but it straddles the line. It’s important as a setup, because this movie was more relatable than I would have thought for me. I was a bassist in a metal band, sure, but it feels like writer D.B Weiss and I had similar backgrounds in high school after watching this.
It may not matter that you didn’t personally feel like this movie is talking to your experience, either. As long as you knew those kids, hung out with those kids, or ever were one of those kids, this movie will make you smile.
It’s a teen movie, so the kids are in high school, but the references are up to date. The bands I grew up knowing and even the ones my much more serious metal friends were discovering at that time (now decades ago) are all represented.
The awkwardness of high school, of not fitting in, and of class warfare are also very much still there. Where this one succeeds as a good movie and others have gotten off the hook for just being “fun” is that the plot is a bit different. This one isn’t just written by the nerds. It feels like it was written by the metal heads. It’s an underpinning throughout, a sonic boom, if you will, within the entire film that says, “We know who we are and we haven’t really changed.”
Even after the D&D sessions are over and the Mountain Dew has been drunk, the metal plays on. Even after the jocks graffiti your car or beat you up, the metal remains. Forever and always, there will be metal in high school because that rage is high school in a nutshell.
The more I think about this movie, the more I like it. It’s not an instant classic, but I can see myself and others like me turning it on again from time to time, perhaps gaining a cult status of its own.
I haven’t really said much about the plot itself, because I don’t want to over simplify it or over complicate it. The official Netflix description reads, “For teenage misfits Hunter and Kevin, the path to glory is clear: Devote themselves to metal. Win Battle of the Bands. And be worshiped like gods.” Ok, that’s fair. But on IMDb, the description is “Two friends try to form a heavy metal band with a cellist for a Battle of the Bands.”
Neither are wrong, but they both miss the soul of this movie. This is about misfits finding their own way and becoming themselves. It’s a path to self-realization and self-actualization. It’s about music, friendships, relationships, getting angry, and getting over that anger.
Parts of that surely describe some high school movies, but not all of them. Because this isn’t your average high school movie, it belongs on your watchlist.
Plus, it’s got an amazing soundtrack, and a small part by one of my favorite authors, Chuck Klosterman! (That’s how you know it’s metal to the max because he literally wrote the book on metal!)
Remember, no matter how times may change, metal stays the same!