Metal: A Headbanger's Journey Sam Dunn, Scot McFayden and Jessica Joy Wise

Metal is a genre of music that is often stereotyped, dismissed and condemned, but also misunderstood by many, even those who consider themselves experts, fans and even "metal" musicians. Metal-head lifer Sam Dunn's documentary is an anthropological study of the music and its characteristics that could have easily gone wrong. But thanks to his proficiency and understanding, he's compiled a solid who's who in metal and asked the right questions. At first, though, Dunn comes across like an undesirable host, giving an account of his roots in the music and why he loves it so much. It takes some time to warm up to his unbridled enthusiasm, but once you do he feels like that friend you worked hard to make. Throughout his journey, Dunn divides metal's make up into a number of different categories, such as origin, roots, fans, culture, gender and sexuality, media, religion and Satanism, and death and violence. With some nifty charts, he also links all of the different sub-genres involved that help make metal such a diverse and rich music. However, as many may guess much of the film's appeal lies in its interviews and Dunn chose his subjects wisely in helping him find answers to his many questions. Artists include Tony Iommi, Bruce Dickinson, Slayer, Ronnie James Dio, Lamb of God, Cannibal Corpse and Voivod, while experts featured are journalists Chuck Klosterman and Malcolm Dome, Satanist Gavin Baddeley, Metal Blade's Brian Slagel, Century Media's Robert Kampf and producer Bob Ezrin. It's the interviews gone horribly wrong though that make for the film's most intriguing moments. Mayhem's drunken animosity nearly results in violence, while Dunn's visit to Norway uncovers some serious intellectual deficiencies in the church burning promoters. In the end, Dunn digs up some answers as to why such a beloved musical genre is so misconstrued, just like he set out to do. But for even the casual viewer he does much more than that - he spreads and conveys an appreciation for a genre its fans are unbelievably passionate about, leaving even the biggest metal hater a little curious as to what they're missing out on. (Seville) (Universal)