If you’ve ever hoisted a righteous, three-finger devil salute while violently shaking your hair and hollering “mmmwwwAAAHHH!” as your favourite band pounded aural nails into your skull, tonight’s episode of Metal Evolution: The Series is just for you.
As documentary filmmaker Sam Dunn reveals in episode six of his quasi-anthropological (but way more fun) study of metal music across the ages, thrash yanked the reeling genre back from the brink, filling the chasm between much-maligned glam and grunge.
Expect our pals Metallica to be outfitted with superhero capes before the episode finishes, with mad props also to Slayer, Megadeth and the like.
Here’s the official blurb of episode six:
“How could metal go so horribly wrong? These were the bitter thoughts of scruffy outsiders Lars Ulrich, Dave Mustaine, Gary Holt and Jeff Hanneman, cursing as the glorious clang of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal echoed across America, only to die in L.A. Ratt, Dokken, Quiet Riot… where was the power? Where was the fire in the belly? From this crucible of embarrassment, a virulent strain of metal called thrash was born, the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax wreaking vengeance on hook and melody through a rhythmic discipline executed at breakneck tempos topped by harshly barked vocals laying bare the horrors of nuclear holocaust and other fun forms of death.
“The blueprint came from Motörhead and the speedier of NWOBHM demons, but it took Metallica's incendiary Kill 'Em All to leach out the niceties until all that was left was stone-cold metal gathered around riff and pounding rhythm. Episode 6 dares to dig into the raging heart of America's thrash movement, uncovering its birthing in Judas Priest, Accept and the aforementioned Motörhead, its toddlerhood in San Francisco, while also acknowledging the parallel contributions of Anthrax and Megaforce Records across the country in New York. Into adolescence, Testament and Overkill get added to the moshpit as we wrestle our way toward the triumphant Clash of the Titans tour.
“But is it victory at last or a last loud hurrah? As we discovered in Episode 5, grunge efficiently erased glam from pop culture relevance, and it appeared to be on its way to doing the same with thrash. Yet thrash fought back, against all odds bounding into today's metal milieu as the most durable and abundant form of metal, thrash bands both modern and retro thriving from L.A. to Sweden, its current saviors being Virginia's Lamb Of God, and - surprise - a resurgent Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, each playing to the biggest and loudest crowds of their lives. How did this unlikely chain of events happen? Episode 6 has all the ugly answers.”
Thrash heads: heed the call. Metal Evolution airs tonight (December 23) at 10 pm on MuchMore and repeats over the weekend; check local listings for times.