You know those old guys who used to be or are still in a band and reflect about “the glory days” when they almost made it big, but ended up being the proverbial opening band for another band who went on to be huge? Yeah those guys. Well, “Inside Metal: Pioneers of L.A. Hard Rock and Metal Vol. 1 & 2” is a documentary about those guys.
Save for a few musicians like Carlos Cavazo of Quiet Riot (currently in Ratt) and Dave Meniketti of Y&T, the majority of the interviews in this two-part film are with aging, balding rockers who once had 15 minutes of fame either nationally or on the famed Sunset Strip. They sit back and regal you with stories of booze, blow and broads at the legendary nightclubs—the Starwod, the Roxy, The Whiskey, etc. where they had some great times, when their band opened for the likes of Van Halen, Quiet Riot, or Smile—the three biggest bands in Los Angeles from 1976-1981, the five years “Inside Metal” focuses on.
And that’s the kicker—of the nearly three hours of walking down sleazy memory lane, more than half the time everyone is talking about how great Van Halen and Quiet Riot were. The two bands featured the now legendary guitarists Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads.
“There were good bands and there was Van Halen, they were the shit,” guitar maker Grover Jackson said. Rival bands shower you with memories of smoking pot with David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen, while not one bad word is said about Randy Rhoads’ character.
To save face and to hold up the title of this documentary the writers and directors, Carl Alvarez and Bob Nalbandian, give a few minutes to British heavy metal, which stormed into town, and the New York punk scene, which tried to infiltrate the glam and metal of L.A. Apparently, the Ramones weren’t welcomed with open arms. The film glazes over the existence of The Runaways and makes further mockery of “the good old” days.
For the most part everyone puts their rock & roll stardom into perspective and thanks their lucky stars they were able to be part of it, but there are a couple hangerson who can’t quite give up the ghost—namely Michael Des Barres and Don Dokken. The two frontmen come off surly and underappreciated for their contribution to the L.A. metal scene. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why Metallica’s Lars Ulrich is in this documentary. Metallica is a Proud flag waving, San Francisco band. I think he was just a big name that allowed for them to stick Metallica’s logo on the cover. And let’s face it, Ulrich will use any excuse to get his mug in a movie.
If you were hanging out on the Sunset Strip from 1976-81, you will probably enjoy “Inside Metal: Pioneers of L.A. Hard Rock and Metal Vol. 1 & 2,” even if you are just a rabid music fan, I am sure there are some things you will find interesting, but for the most part this double disc documentary is for those two niche crowds.