Netflix’s Metal Lords is many things. It’s a high school coming of age story, a musical education, and an exploration of the cringiest moments in a person’s life. Not everything about it worked, but this movie is ultimately a charming story of coming into one’s own and the search for acceptance. At its core, this movie also has a powerful message about bullying in the teenage years and the many ways in which this is manifested.
There’s a unique cringe factor that high school ‘band kids’ will recognize instantly in this movie. Jaeden Martell and Adrian Greensmith ultimately capture this so well, as Kevin and Hunter respectively. Every time they speak on-screen, it gets more awkward. And yet this works to near perfection. So much of this movie is so viscerally uncomfortable to watch and yet so relatable and endearing at the same time.
While so much of the dialogue is stilted, and the voiceover is awkward, it’s completely understandable in the context of the story. Who among us didn’t have a cringe inner monologue narrating each and every thought during the high school years? Then again, maybe that was just me. In any case, among the most endearing aspects of the movie was how true to life it captured the teenage years. In contrast to other teen-related pop culture entities, Metal Lords is intensely committed to dialing the awkwardness up to the maximum.
So much of this movie did an amazing job at capturing the cruelty teenagers inflict on each other every day in overt and covert ways. Did people get beat up as teenagers? Sure. But probably a far more common experience is that of experiencing constant rejection and ostracization. Rejection by those who are supposed to be our friends is an experience that just hits different, and this movie captures this terrible feeling so well.
Living up to its name Metal Lords attempted to answer the question, what is metal anyway? The ultimate conclusion, while perhaps simple, is an effective one. Is it simply disobeying rules for its own sake? On a slightly deeper level, the movie concludes that metal is truth to power, and sticking it to the man. For those uninitiated into the world of metal, there is a great starter playlist including Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, and Guns. All music is a powerful opportunity to explore art in a deeper way and Metal Lords definitely made a valiant effort to take this chance.
Although the movie was a poignant look at the journey of friendship, the one character who was so often wasted was Emily (Isis Hainsworth). While this movie absolutely could have taken a more incel route, it missed the opportunity to elevate the sole female character. She was so compelling and had such incredible potential. It was such a shame that viewers didn’t get a chance to get closer to her to better understand her journey.
While imperfect, and certainly not in the top tier of coming-of-age teen music movies, Metal Lords was enjoyable enough to make it worth the watch. The combination of excellent performances combined with a sweet story made it worthwhile overall. All of the actors involved are clearly just getting started, and we can certainly expect great things from them in the future.
Metal Lords is available to stream on Netflix.