If you looked at Metal Lords and thought it was just a metal version of school of rock, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. However, that doesn’t mean you should outright dismiss the new netflix movie as a result.
Back in 2019, Game Of Thrones co-creators DB Weiss and David Benioff signed a major deal with the streaming service. Metal Lords marks the first movie from the deal, with Weiss writing and producing and Benioff on executive producer duties.
It centers on diehard metal fan Hunter (Adrian Greensmith) and his best friend Kevin (It‘s Jaeden Martell) who have their own “post death metal” band called Skullf**ker. In a school where the most popular band covers Ed Sheeran, it’s obviously a challenge for them to win over their schoolmates, especially since they don’t even have a bassist.
Enter cello player Emily (Isis Hainsworth), who not only brings a new dimension to the band, but also other hormonal issues for Kevin. If they’re to stand any chance of winning the battle of the bands though, the trio need to overcome their differences for long enough for Skullf**ker to bring the house down.
You could never say Metal Lords was rewriting the rule book, but sometimes it’s OK to tread familiar ground when you do it well. The story covers the tropes you’d expect from a coming-of-age tale, including (but not limited to) terrible parents and bullying, yet does it with enough heart to make it work.
Key to that success are the performances from our leading trio. We knew from It that Jaeden Martell excels at being a loveable awkward outsider and he does just as well here, while Isis Hainsworth is a great foil for him as Emily and the pair have an adorable chemistry. Adrian Greensmith convinces as a heavy metal fanatic and keeps you on Hunter’s side, even when he’s being a bit of a dick.
It’s a shame that the script doesn’t give too much for the talented trio to really dig into, though. Issues such as Emily’s mental health and Kevin’s struggles with bullying are covered only at a surface level. It ends up feeling like a checklist when something deeper could have elevated the movie.
Still, even though the script doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, you’ll have fun hanging out with the trio all the same. As much as it shows a love for the heavy metal genre, it’s not afraid to mock it either. When Hunter doesn’t want Emily to join the band as it’d be “completely gay”, she points out all the band posters with skin-tight leather on them.
There’s also plenty for heavy metal fans to enjoy on the soundtrack with needle drops from the likes of Judas Priest, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and more. Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ even gets a terrific cover, now with cello, and Skullf**ker’s big original song ‘Machinery of Torment’ is genuinely great, as well as being convincingly written by a teen.
Expect to see some fun cameos from heavy metal icons too, as Kevin turns to their imaginary advice to help him navigate his blossoming love life. The overall tone might end up feeling too safe for a movie about heavy metal, despite the liberal use of the C-word, but there’s no doubt it’s been made with affection for the genre and its fans.
For a movie that generally plays out exactly as you’d expect, the movie even has a fun sting in its tail that leaves you wishing there was more of the unexpected. You might not want an encore, but Metal Lords is still an endearing and funny coming-of-age tale.
Metal Lords is available to watch now on Netflix.
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