Heavy Metal Britannia Review: It’s A Hard Rock Life

March 5, 2010 by  
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HEAVY METAL BRITANNIA: Friday 5th March, BBC4, 9pm ALERT ME

Despite all the biting off bat’s heads and devil worship – British Heavy Metal musicians seem like thoroughly nice chaps. They might dress a bit scary but they’ve got some cracking stories to tell.

In Heavy Metal Britannia, Nigel “Neil from the Young Ones? Planer takes us through the history of the genre from it’s beginnings in the Black Country to the pomp and hair-dos of stadium-filling acts.

Along the way we meet some legendary guitarists and front-men including Lemmy, Tony Iommi, Bruce Dickinson and Brian Tatler who chat about the pleasures and pit-falls of being in a Metal band.

Never taking themselves too seriously, the tour-hardy talking-heads help us discover what Heavy Metal is all about.

They have endless theories on how and when Heavy Metal started. Was it the Kinks’ growling guitar on You Really Got Me? Did Arthur Brown and his on-stage theatrics kick things off? One thing is for sure. Metal really came together in the Midlands and the territory has produced a string of acts including genre leading Black Sabbath. But why there?

Rob Halford, frontman of Judas Priest, thinks it could be to do with all the steel foundaries in the area at the time. He says: “Some of us say we actually breathed in the metal?.

He goes on to have a stab about how the music evolved as it did. He thinks things start with American Blues then to Blues Rock via Electric Psychadelic Rock then Progressive Rock ending with the early strains of Metal. Simple really.

The documentary also explores the cult that grew up around the genre, especially in the US, where fans would practice black magic and worship the devil. The baffled band members would often get dragged into these spooky rituals.

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi explains: “A lot of weird things happened in Sabbath that even we can’t explain – might have been all the drugs though.?

Even for those who don’t particularly like the music, the documentary holds a lot of laughs and the big-haired, wrinkled rockers are great company.