Metal Lords is a terrible teen rom-com in horrible corpse paint

Last week Friday Netflix released one of its newest originals, Metal Lords.

Metal Lords was written by D.B Weiss who worked on that season of Game of Thrones, but the executive music producer is Tom Morello. Morello’s involvement had us excited, but after actually watching the film during our loadshedding block on Tuesday, we wish we hadn’t wasted the data.

The film follows two high school chums Kevin (played by Jaeden Martell) and Hunter (played by Adrian Greensmith) who are incessantly bullied at school and beyond. Hunter gets the idea to start a post-death metal band and pulls Kevin into playing drums while he handles vocals and lead guitar. To be clear, Kevin plays drums in a marching band and this prompts Hunter to assume he can play drums.

The band, with the name Skullfuc*er, needs to find a bassist and that’s where celloist Emily (played by Isis Hainsworth) enters the film. While we were still on board at this point, following the hamfisted introduction of Emily, things just get worse.

While Hunter is one of those annoying, gatekeeping metalheads, this gets amped up when Emily enters the picture and Kevin suggests she play cello for their band.

For instance, Hunter’s persistent shouts of “No Yokos” in reference to Emily joining the band is the sort of gatekeeping rubbish that made heavy metal a boys club for so long. In an era where equality and violence against women is so widely talked about, Metal Lords feels tone deaf in this regard. There’s even a moment where Hunter uses the word gay in a derogatory manner.

Hunter’s delusions of grandeur are a mainstay throughout the movie and it’s clear that the kid needs to talk to a professional. However, rather than highlighting the importance of mental health the topic is just fumbled worse than Scott Stapp when he performed drunk on stage in 2002.

The film is also loaded to the brim with teen movie tropes. The bully who has no depth perception, the Dungeons and Dragons group, the popular girl everybody wants to know, the neglectful parents and the stern high school teacher are all here. However, despite their differences, everybody comes together to celebrate Hunter, Kevin and Emily when they ultimately decided to play together. Isn’t that just so Hollywood and this moment of triumph feels unearned.

The aspect of this movie that misses the most is it’s insistence on focusing on the heavy metal the parents of these kids would’ve grown up with. While we understand that these help form a baseline, having a list of bands where the most recent song is from 2012, in a film in 2022, looks bad.

Where are the deathcore and metalcore bands from throughout the 2010s, where are any bands from the rap-metal days of the late 90s? It all just feels so stuck in time and makes it seem like no other metal bands have existed since 2012.

Also, Rock of Ages references? In 2022? Get out of here with that.

This movie has flashes of brilliance such as Kevin’s drumming montages or Brett Gelman as Hunter’s father. It was even nice to see Joe Manganiello staring as a psychologist.

Despite only seeing the band practice once we are treated to an original song at the end of the film which is nice but also just makes no sense. Perhaps this movie is actually about three savants who find common purpose in heavy metal. Come to think of it. we’d have preferred that movie over this teen movie in corpse paint.

We recommend re-watching School of Rock rather than spending time on Metal Lords. Not only is Jack Black more fun to watch, the film feels more appropriate in our current era than Metal Lords ever will.


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