DEATH TO METAL (2019)
Directed by Tim Connery.
Written by Tim Connery, Kevin Koppes.
Starring Alex Stein, Grace Melon, Andrew Jessop, Trent Johnson, Charlie Lind, Dan Flannery, Steve Thompson, Sean Weis, Dean Wellman, Neal Kapp, Chelsea Byers, Nate Lang, Lydia Oline, Ben Stone, Jonathan Stone
An overzealous preacher (Andrew Jessop) is put on leave for his outdated and righteous sermons targeting everything from TV to music. Wandering aimlessly after murdering the head priest, stealing a ceremonial robe and a broken cross, the priest falls into a random vat of toxic waste and becomes a monstrous beast bent on ridding the world of sin. His path crosses with a death metal concert going on in the small town featuring a quartet of gnarly bands. Lead singer Zane (Alex Stein) planned on playing the gig with the rest of his bandmates, but they fired him at the last minute, leaving him a wallowing mess of self-pity. But his best friend Mariah (Grace Melon) isn’t about to let it get him down and takes him to the concert anyway, right about the same time the demented priest-monster goes on a gory rampage.
DEATH TO METAL is a well-intentioned little feature. While I can’t say I’m an expert on death metal, I know a thing or two about a thing or two, and it seems the filmmakers know and love the subject. So while this might not be the most capably filmed and tactfully acted, its love and understanding of metal and the culture surrounding it feels truly genuine. Fans of this type of music will at least have some fun throat singing and guitar grinding to appreciate as DEATH TO METAL almost always has some kind of hardcore sounds playing in the background either in frame or on the soundtrack.
The filmmakers also handle their gore with an iron constitution. The evil priest is a radioactive mess that only the Toxic Avenger would love. It’s a fun look as the hooded menace brandishes a broken cross as a giant dagger impaling his sinning victims. Things get quite bloody as the rampage continues and this one doesn’t shy in showing the carnage and wet stuff spattered all about. Sure, we never really get a good look at the priest under the hood, but if the goofy, puffy Halloween-gloved fingers are any indication, it might have been a good thing. Still, the low fi appreciation for gore is appreciated right back from me.
And while the acting may be its worst quality, DEATH TO METAL made me laugh quite a few times. Be it the comedic references to metal classics (the priest says “Hell awaits.” to his intended victim, to which a rocker replies, “Slayer’s best fucking album, man!”) or simple goofy sight gags (the ongoing back and forth between a pre-teen punk rocker and his dad are adorably metal), this one’s got a wicked strong funny bone supporting it all.
So I laughed, I rocked out, I enjoyed DEATH TO METAL for what it was. It’s not trying to take over the cinema world but does repeatedly try to rip out your soul for the dark gods of rock and roll. I’d love to see what the filmmakers could do with some more money behind a production. It doesn’t take itself so seriously a la LORDS OF CHAOS and is self-aware enough to know when the genre (both horror and metal) is downright ridiculous. In a lot of ways, this had the same grungy fun vibe as Peter Jackson’s BAD TASTE, and look at the places that guy went once he got a budget under him. DEATH TO METAL is a low fi, head banging good time, except for those who don’t appreciate the metal, but screw those guys. Screw those guys all the way to hell.