Sam Dunn, a 30-year-old anthropologist and lifelong metal fan, embarks on a trip into the heart of heavy metal in Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. His mission is to figure out why metal music is consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned, even while the tribe that loves it stubbornly holds its ground – spreading the word, keeping the faith, and adopting styles and attitudes that go way beyond the music. Dunn visits heavy metal landmarks as far flung as L.A.’s Sunset Strip, the dirty streets of Birmingham, and the dark forests of Norway. Along the way, Dunn explores metal’s obsession with sex, religion, violence and death, meets his heroes, and discovers some things about the culture that even he can’t defend. Part social document, part celebration of a misunderstood art form, this documentary is a window into a culture that’s far more complex than it seems.
Sam Dunn holds a BA in anthropology and history and an MA in social anthropology from York University.