Before MTV, before hairspray and Spandex ruled the strip and way before the Internet/social media existed, the early ’80s history of L.A. is told through a collage of vintage videos, concert/photo stills, flyers, album covers and show stubs between band interviews and stories.
Narrated by John Bush (Armored Saint, Anthrax), Inside Metal: The L.A. Metal Scene Explodes is a two DVD documentary chronicling the ’81-‘86, pre-glam years of bands fighting to play and survive in the L.A. club scene. The stories are told in a raw, DIY style mirroring the lifestyle, budgets and survive at all costs mentality of the time. From backyard patios to apartment complexes, the sudden zoom/wide shot angle, blurry spots and major close-ups are captured talking to several bands that were local household names but never got the national exposure they deserved.
The DVD’s retell a time before metal was grouped and metal was metal whether it was Slayer, W.A.S.P., Metallica, Racer X, Bitch or Armored Saint.
It was a “play anywhere and everywhere” motto. When bands busted their ass everyday writing, rehearsing and flyering any space they could find.
Stories of local lore include the origin of major Quiet Riot songs, dressing room recants at the Roxy, the W.A.S.P. Troubadour rat grinder show, the influence of radio stations playing local bands and the days when Metallica opened for Armored Saint.
Hellion’s Ann Boleyn talks about tape trading and writing letters trying to get label attention while Ulrich discusses the night Metallica and Motley Crue almost met.
Ozzy’s scene influence is highlighted with Mike Inez (Alice in Chains) on his musical epiphany watching Ozzy at the ‘83 US Festival and later in life audition. Marq Torien talks about his audition for Ozzy, leading to Ratt and eventually the BulletBoys.
Bands on camera include members of WW IIII, W.A.S.P., Stryper, Ratt, Hellion, Bitch, Racer X, White Lion, Dokken, Lizzy Bordon, Black N Blue, Y&T, Autograph, Quiet Riot, Snow, Steeler, Rough Cutt, Dark Angel, Testament, Armored Saint, Warrior, Oden, Leatherwolf, Black Sheep, Legs Diamond, Overkill L.A., and Great White among others.
Local promotors Gina Zamparelli, DJ’s and journalist John Kornarens, Jon Sutherland and UK Journalist Malcolm Dome are interviewed.
The rise of indie labels including Combat, Megaforce and Metal Blade are covered, as well as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal’s merging with the L.A. look and sound. Also included are the early days with the monumental signing of Quiet Riot, opening floodgates to labels signing every band with a certain look, leading to over saturation.
Other stories include Poison’s second gig opening for Pandemonium at the Troubadour, Y&T’s story about Bon Scott traveling with opening bands, Metallica’s first gig at Radio City, Z-Rock and the old-school tape-trading, pen pal’s form of media promotion and tales from scene veteran Gene Hoglan.
Part 2 continues with Malice, Savage Grace, Overkill L.A., Metallica, Marty Friedman-Cacophony, Gene Hoglan, Stephen Pearcy, and Shark Island among others.
Famous/infamous venues are mentioned, but The L.A. Metal Scene Explodes talks about local venues where bands honed their craft giving Pookies, Perkins Palace, the Country Club, Golden Bear and The Woodstock their historical place and prominence.
Music Connection and The Recycler were that era’s social networking tools.
The ill-fated PMRC censorship stickers played out as one of the biggest backfires in parental advisory history, increasing sales.
Well known history is mixed with specifics like the rise of female-lead bands Hellion, Bitch and Precious Metal, L.A.’s first female promoter Gina Zamparelli, the Sunset Strip mob scene, the impact of Gazzarri’s, the arrival of Yngwie Malmsteen, Hear N’ Aid and 3 A.M. flyer war stories.