Metal Down Under- A History of Australian Heavy Metal (Animus Industries DVD)

A stupendous work...

I don’t consider myself to be much of an expert on film criticism, documentary criticism much less so. It doesn’t take much expertise, however, to realise just how much work has been put into this film. Metal Down Under is the magnum opus of filmmaker Nick Calpakdjian that gives us a comprehensive history of Australian heavy music from its earliest roots all the way up to today.

The sheer scope of this project is what makes it stand out. Divided into three 50 minute parts, there’s enough depth to adequately cover the 40 or so odd years of history here. The doco boasts over 40 interviews with such luminaries of the Australian metal scene as Peter Hobbs, Steve Hughes, Adam Aguis and Dave Haley who all go into details about their respective bands and the Australian scene at the time. However, this is supplemented by interviews with the supporting characters- if you will- of Australia’s scene such as the editor of influential publication Hot Metal Magazine, Robyn Doreian or Greta Tate who ran Melbourne’s infamous Central Station record store.

All of this serves to flush out the story and give a real sense of what it was like back in the day, not just as a metal band but as a fan of heavy music too. There is a bit of a popular misconception that metal in Australia didn’t exist, save for a handful of bands, up until the 21st century. Metal Down Under shows that cities like Melbourne and Sydney had as vibrant a scene as more reputable places like London or the Bay Area, albeit on a much smaller scale. If anything, this documentary is a testament to the true global appeal of heavy metal. The record shops, the radio shows, the magazines, the key people responsible for pushing talent; it’s a story that’s virtually identical to the evolution of many different metal scenes across the globe. It’s a comforting thought really, that despite differing locations and creeds, metal is still metal wherever you go.

As far as documentaries go, this is worth seeing not only for fans of Australian heavy metal looking to learn their history, but people interested in Australian culture in general. Highly recommended.

Metal Down Under is available now.