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Metal Down Under - Metal Down Under Award winner

Metal Down Under
Metal Down Under
by Jacob Dawson at 13 November 2014, 10:12 PM

Although Metal as a genre is quickly becoming more and more widespread as the internet helps more isolated bands gain attention, it is still seen as being far more prevalent in Europe and the USA than elsewhere in the world. Although we all like to pretend otherwise, it's an unfortunate truth that Metal is typically associated with white, heterosexual people from these continents. It's only when a commercially successful band from another country gains attention from the media that we are reminded how big the world is, more recent examples being of course the Japanese controversy behemoth BABYMETAL and, albeit in a different way, Australia's own AIRBOURNE. Australia is often forgotten about in the world of music partially due to its fairly short heritage, and the new DVD Metal Down Under aims to remind the world that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

The 3-episode collection details the rise and fall of many of the continent's more famous heavy bands, such as ION DRIVE, HOBB'S ANGEL OF DEATH, FRANKENBOK and PSYCHROPTIK. This is done through lots and lots of interviews, mainly with members of contemporary bands or fans and historians of the genre. There is also a healthy dose of old archive footage from gigs in the 80s and 90s, which although contain dreadful sound quality for the most part do also add some nice context to what's said in the interviews.

Each hour-long episode doesn't cover a different area to the other two; the whole package is more like a general tour through the careers of many different bands alongside a timeline-like overview of what was happening in the genre at the time. It touches upon issues such as how the emergence of digital technology has affected the industry's ability to promote new music, as well as how many bands in Australia must make the difficult choice between focusing on fans in their own country or abroad.

The opinion that seems to be shared amongst many of the interviewees is that their country's attitude to music is far more relaxed than that of the rest of the world, and that their independence and deliberately standoffish demeanor may account for their lack of international attention.  It is this consensus that makes the release of the DVD confusing, as at face value it seems to be trying to get the country noticed for its music, but the musicians themselves don't seem to care whether their work achieves commercial success or not. That's not to say it contradicts its own purpose; I’m just observing an interesting paradox that the subject matter has created for itself.

In any case, the title is an interesting and revealing look into the heavy musical side of a country that is often reduced to ridiculous stereotypes, and if you didn’t already know much about the Australian flavour to Heavy Metal before seeing it you will want to investigate it further after having done so. I would recommend however that all three hours are not watched back-to-back, as it can become slightly repetitive due to its own nature and by listening to my girlfriend's many sarcastic comments after forcing her to watch it with me I can confirm it is also better if watched alone, or with someone else who appreciates Metal for what it is. It's worth it for the last line alone, when a band member thankfully confirms the following: "Metal's a bit like a cockroach; it's always going to be there. Even after the holocaust."

4 Star Rating

Record Label: Animus Industries


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