Get Thrashed: The Story Of Thrash Metal review
Rick Ernst (of MTV's Headbanger's Ball) started off on this self-financed documentary, on the rise and coming of age of thrash metal, in 2003, later to be joined by Rat Skates (ex-Overkill). 2006 saw the premiere of Get Thrashed at the Raindance film festival in London, and 2007 will, hopefully, see the release of it on dvd.
Many thrash fans, after their appetites had been wetted by the trailers on www.getthrashed.com, have been waiting for this for quite some time now. And, has it been worth the wait? For me personally it has been worth it.
What we get is a 99 minute in-depth documentary on the rise of thrash, accompanied by a great soundtrack, which starts of with Bonded By Blood and ends with Back In The Day, featuring well-known and lesser-known artists.
Get Thrashed is set up in clear chapters on the birth of the genre, the Big Four (each one getting their own chapter), Exodus, the three big US scenes (all also getting a chapter of their own), thrash metal fans, the dress code, headbanging, stagediving, moshing, crossover, Suicidal Tendencies, life on the road, the German scene and worlwide scene, Clash Of The Titans tour as an end of an era, Pantera as the true metal (thrash) survivor in the nineties, a chapter on Nu-metal versus new metal, and wrapping it all up in a chapter called The Legacy Remains.
What Ernst does, is he interviews prime players of the early thrash scenes and also modern bands who were in some way heavily influenced by thrash or a fan of the movement in its heyday. The list reads as a who's who of thrash, featuring such people as Ron Quintana (Metal Mania magazine, and the guy who unwittingly gave Metallica their band name), John & Marsha Zazula (Megaforce), Brian Slagel (Metal Blade), Ian Christe (author of Sound Of The Beast), The Old Bridge Militia, and artists such as Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett, the guys from Exodus, Anthrax, Overkill, Death Angel, D.R.I., Megadeth, Katon W. De Pena (Hirax), Kerry King and Tom Araya, Eric Peterson and Chuck Billy, John Connelly and Danny Lilker (Nuclear Assault) and many more.
So, do those of us that grew up with thrash in the early to late eighties learn anything new from the interviews? I don't really think so, but what we do get is a great trip down memory lane. The passion with which the artists talk about those days works infectious and makes you wanna pick up all those old thrash classics and delve deep into it and get totally immersed with old magazine clippings and demos. Hell, even Lars Ulrich gets all excited (but then again when doesn't the guy get excited when being interviewed?). Lars really nails the feeling of the time when he says: "It wasn't about selling units and all that horseshit, it was about the passion" which is along the lines of Frank Bello's (Anthrax) remark: "It was all about the music, there was no money, so it had to be about the music." and also when talking about tape trading where you'd go bananas over a bad sounding 14th generation copy of a demo of a new band. Many people hearing Lars say that will probably call the guy a hypocrite because of Metallica's money-grabbing antics (remember the court case against peer-to-peer file sharing? And that from a band which used to allow fans into a special area at concerts where they could tape the show). But Lars is right, that's how it was back then, even for the currently big artists. Bobby 'Blitz' Elsworth (Overkill) certainly takes the prize for the most down to earth, self reflective, sincere, vibrant artist interviewed here. The passion for thrash just oozes from his every pore and every word he says. Another artist who really stands out with his sincere passion for thrash is, believe it or not, Slipknot's and Stone Sour's Corey Taylor.
Many people will wonder if the birth of the term thrash metal is explained. Yes it is, and after having heard the explanation there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to refer to it as trash ever again. As explained in the Thrash Metal Is Born part, the term came into being because the crowd tended to thrash everything in their path. Blitz's anecdote on when he first heard the term certainly rings true to my ears. When Blitz first heard the term he thought people were referring to trash and that it was an insult.
What is probably interesting to most younger fans of thrash is that the three original scenes were centred around record stores that imported a lot of records. And also that the bands helped each other out a lot back then and that some fans hosted concerts in their backyards and let touring bands party and stay over at their house. The do- it-yourself ethic was really big back then. Labels like Metal Blade and Megaforce were started by fans of the genre in order to release their favourite bands. Another fact which might be interesting is that the thrash scene back then was even more male dominated than it is now. Or like Blitz said: "The ongoing joke was: What has two thousand legs and two breasts? An Overkill show in Germany."
The influence of thrash metal on the metal scene in the larger context is also not forgotten. Like said by Steve 'Zetro' Souza, thrash evolved into death metal and black metal. Of course, metalcore is also heavily influenced by it.
As someone says in Get Thrashed: Modern day thrash, as played by Lamb Of God, God Forbid, and Shadows Fall, is not the same thrash we used to listen back then but it's something that is more relevant that kids are listening to today.
What Brian Fair of Shadows Fall has to say about the legacy of thrash metal rings totally true for me: "The legacy of bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer they're undeniable and they'll live on forever. I mean, whether it's in the punk rock scenes, hardcore scenes, metal scenes, that stuff's there forever. It's kinda like, I don't honestly need to even go look and listen to a lot of those records 'cause it's imprinted in my DNA at this point."
Yes, as has been stated throughout the entire 99 minutes, it was an insane time back then and for people like me, we were lucky to be there at the time, and to see so many bands when they first started and see them grow over the years.
How does Get Thrashed compare to last year's big metal documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey? Well, Get Thrashed limits itself to just one subgenre of metal thus delving deeper into the aspects of it. Get Thrashed isn't as slick as Headbanger's Journey due to the fact that Get Thrashed is a self-financed project. Which in my opinion is its strong point as well for that accentuates the rawness and do-it-yourself ethics of the early thrash days. And Rick Ernst limits himself to what he knows and loves best, unlike Sam Dunn (although I mightily enjoyed Headbanger's Journey) who goes over to Martin Popoff (metal journalist) for his subgenre charts and then goes terribly wrong classifying quite a few bands.
But the two documentaries can't really be compared due to the generality of Headbanger's Journey and the genre specificity of Get Thrashed: The Story Of Thrash Metal. Having seen one of them is no reason not to see the other. I would even recommend seeing both of them.
So, is this documentary worth the wait? And will it be worth buying when it is released on dvd? A resounding… Hell, yeah! Hopefully it will be like what Ernst told Terrorizer in an interview he did with them which was published in Issue 123, September 2004 that the dvd version will include over an hour's worth of additional material and will include features on many more bands that could not be included due to time constraints of a television program.
The constraints are probably also the reason why things I really did miss were left out. Nope, I am not talking about the Arizona thrash scene (Flotsam & Jetsam, Sacred Reich, Atrophy) because that is already the second, and not very influential, generation of thrash. And also not more on thrash from outside the US and Germany. Why would there be more focus on that? The only really big and influential mover within the thrash scene from outside those two countries was Sepultura. What I really missed were two things… firstly, something on producers/engineers of thrash albums. People like Michael Wagener, Bill Metoyer, Mark Whitaker, Harris Johns, Alex Perialas, Mark Dodson, Michael Rosen, Carl Canedy, Eddie Kramer, Flemming Rasmussen, and so on.
And secondly, interviews with well-known artists of thrash album covers like Ed Repka, Don Brautigem, and Pushead.
I watched Get Thrashed with quite a few metallers (people who were into thrash back in the day and younger metalheads who only got into thrash in the late nineties) at my house so as to see what their reactions would be to it. Well, both groups really enjoyed it, the older guys and girls already knew most, to all, of the subject matter presented here but thought it was a brilliant trip down memory lane. For the younger generation it was really interesting for there was quite a bit they didn't really realise and now they could hear it all from the mouths of the players of those days. A striking difference between the two groups of watchers was the way the younger generation reacted to Lamb Of God, Corey Taylor (Slipknot and Stone Sour), Chris Jericho (Fozzy), Chimaira, Shadows Fall, Kittie, Killswitch Engage, Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed). They got upset by the fact these artists were interviewed because according to them they aren't thrash, having nothing to do with thrash, and are only making metal for the sake of earning a quick buck and are posers when it comes to thrash. Well, on posers… what was considered a poser back in the day is clearly explained in Get Thrashed. The people who grew up with thrash thought it was a good thing that the interviews with those artists are featured for it gave an insight on how thrash has influenced, affected and is seen by those people.
So, all in all, a must see for anyone with the slightest inkling of interest in the history of metal in general and thrash metal in particular. A great job well done by Rick Ernst. This is a documentary he can certainly be proud of.
Rating: Must See
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