When Sam Dunn’s second installation of his personal study of the anthropology of heavy metal music begins it appears to be more of the same. A return to the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany, another introduction to Dunn and his history as an anthropology graduate and a major metal fan, and a kind of “last time on Metal…”-style summary of the last film, Metal: a Headbanger’s Journey; but within ten minutes the film begins to show its true colors.
Rather than a rehash of his previous work, Dunn delivers a film that examines how metal fits into cultures you wouldn’t expect to find rocking. Starting in Brazil (one of the least surprising stops on the tour because of the popularity of Sepultura and the Rock in Rio festival) Dunn relates the country’s political history to the mass appeal of heavy music in the region, juxtaposing the launch of Rock in Rio with the beginning of freedom and democracy in Brazil.
What’s makes Global Metal more compelling than Headbangers Journey is that while the latter relied on famous talking heads such as Bruce Dickinson, Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio to tell the story, Global Metal relies on the lives of regular people to compel the viewer. Heading from Japan to China, from India to the Middle East this is more than just a study of a genre of music, it’s an overview of the similarities between metal fans the world over as well as how youth living in very different cultural regions have adapted one form of music to fit their lives.