“Inside Metal: The Rise Of L.A Thrash Metal: Part One” is the latest documentary directed by Bob Nalbandian whose previous work includes “Inside Metal: The Pioneers of L.A Hard Rock” and “Metal and Inside Metal: The L.A Metal Scene Explodes!” It’s fair to say if you have an interest in L.A’s heavy music scenes you won’t find anyone more knowledgeable.
If you’re a thrash fan you’re probably aware of the San Francisco Bay Area scene where bands such as Exodus, Testament, and Metallica paid their dues before moving onto international fame. What you might not be aware of is that L.A had its own thrash metal scene, indeed many of the big bands we now associate with San Francisco started out there before moving away due to difficulty getting gigs and the dominance of glam metal. The film does a good job covering the atmosphere, multicultural and punk influences that make L.A Thrash different, so if you need to research the scene for any reason it’s a good source of information. As a documentary, however, it leaves a lot to be desired.
While it’s somewhat interesting as a thrash fan to listen to big names such as Gene Hoglan and Lars Ulrich discuss the early stages of their career, “The Rise of L.A Thrash” is just not particularly engaging. It wouldn’t be fair to expect something on the scale of March of The Penguins or Blue Planet 2 – this is for a niche audience after all and has a budget that reflects this but even in comparison to other metal documentaries such as the fantastic “Death Metal Angola” or “Metal: A Headbangers Journey” it’s incredibly disappointing. The documentary consists largely of interviews discussing individuals experience and knowledge of the scene, many of which look like they’ve been recorded on a webcam from the early 90’s occasionally interspersed with poor quality live footage. I’d be able to look over this if the story being told was interesting and well-structured but opportunities to go into more detail about pivotal moments, venues and gigs are never explored. The sparsity of narration and the repetition of the same points over and over by different people also hinders the attempt to create an easy to follow structure despite the documentary being split into sections.
The worst thing about this documentary, however, is that after an hour and a half it just ends out of nowhere. It may be titled “The Rise Of L.A Thrash” but by the time the credits rolled we haven’t even got to the “rising” part, we’re still discussing the scenes early evolution and influences. When I first watched it, I assumed that the distributors had simply forgotten to send me the second part to review… but no it’s actually a separate product which will be released at a later date.
‘The Rise of L.A Thrash’ has a few interesting moments but there’s no way I’d recommend spending money on it. Calling it a documentary is a bit of a stretch, it’s a series of interviews chopped up and ordered into a vague semblance of a narrative that spends far too much covering the same points. Perhaps the upcoming part 2 will be better, but as a standalone product, The Rise Of L.A Thrash Part One is best avoided unless you really need to know more about the L.A scene.