By Muhammad Muzammal Columnist
Metal isn’t like most music genres. It has a realist element that makes its music far more powerful. There are fundamental components to metal bands that cannot be replicated. Perhaps the most well known metal band of all time is Metallica. With Lars Ulrich’s intense drumming, Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett’s rapid bass and guitar playing and James Hetfield’s powerful vocals, Metallica epitomizes metal music like no other band.
In “Metallica: Through the Never,” a film that is part concert and part narrative, Metallica is the spectacular centerpiece, playing with fierce liberation and incredible ferocity. During the concert Metallica connects with its audience and both parties share a multilayered bond.
The narrative follows Trip (Dane DeHaan), a roadie responsible for setting up the bands valuable equipment. One night, one of Metallica’s trucks breaks down. Trip is called to drive to the vehicle and save a mysterious bag whose purpose is never revealed. He finds himself on a unique odyssey, traveling through a dystopian Los Angeles in search of the bag.
“Metallica: Through the Never’s” largest achievement is carefully lining up Trip’s journey with the concert. L.A. has become a breaking point for civilization, with numerous riots on the streets. As Trip goes deeper into this malicious world, Metallica’s songs become darker. For one, the band performs select songs from their album “Masters of Puppets” while Trip encounters various rioters.
One of the largest themes of the album is powerlessness – an emotion that the broken civilization can identify with. The juxtaposition of the concert with the story works here because the concert acts as a conscience while the story represent its actions. Trip doesn’t speak much; Metallica’s thought-provoking lyrics show us his fear instead.
The film is not without direction. Its masterful craftsmanship creates an escapist experience due in large part to Hungarian filmmaker Nimród Antal.
There are extravagantly staged sequences with unique and fascinating angles. The camera pans over the band and most importantly, captures the reactions of the die-hard fans. The crowd is joyful and in the moment, so much so that they resemble one organism, moving in unison, arms waving in the air. They applaud, laugh and cheer so loudly that, in one humorous scene, Hetfield can’t even fathom the noise. Yet Metallica keeps playing, moving the inspired crowd to deep emotional levels.
As the backdrop to the film, Metallica always plays in the background and acts as a main character. What we see and hear is a band with a passion and pure love for their music. The film connects many scenes from Trip’s story to the songs, showing a thematic relevance to both. The film shows a discipline to its subject just as the band shows rigorousness for its genre. It is more than a serviceable concert movie – it is an immersive mixture of storytelling and exhibition. And a damn good one.