December 18, 2019 Come on Feel the Noize: The Story of How Rock Became Metal (Documentary Review)
Ready to rock? Then it is time to get down with Come on Feel the Noize: The Story of How Rock Became Metal, a Rockumentary named after one of the biggest hits by that most hardcore of Metal bands, SLADE! Okay, Director Jörg Sonntag (Atlantic Affairs 2002) and Writer Thore Vollert (Crytopia 2020) likely had something harder in mind.
Nonetheless, Sonntag and Vollert managed to grab hold of some long-lost live material from the biggest names in Rock, and the performances are also peppered with interviews with the legends themselves: Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Nikki Sixx (Mötley Crüe, Sixx:AM), James Hetfield (Metallica), and Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath). Through them, the film hopes to show how Rock hardened into Metal.
While the film originally cropped up around 2017, back home in Germany, it made its American VOD debut on December 3 and DVD debut on December 13th all thanks to Cleopatra Entertainment. That in mind, will it make audiences feel the noise, or will they wish for a quiet riot?
People hoping to brush up on their German will get scant chance here, as the documentary is largely in English. There are a few subs and more dubs, but the narration is all English. It aims for a general telling of Metal’s history, though older German fans (who had not caught the Documentary back in 2017) might get a kick from much of the early footage coming from shows like Beat-Club. It seems to have been like the German version of America’s Ed Sullivan Show or the UK’s Top of the Pops, only those shows would not have cut boobs into Led Zeppelin’s performance of “Whole Lotta Love.”
The documentary goes decade by decade and band by band. It briefly touches upon Metal’s roots from the Rock, R&B and even Folk tracks from the 1960s, and how bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple gradually shifted into harder territory. While others, least according to the film, started off hard like Black Sabbath. The presentation is quite crisp, clean and fancy, particularly in the intro.
Still, the scripting could have done with a bit more pizzazz. The narration for bands like Deep Purple and Sixx:AM sounds like they could have been taken from their Wikipedia articles. While certain facts seem like they could have done with more focus instead of being an aside. Did you know Slade’s Noddy Holder could have replaced the late Bon Scott in AC/DC? Well, neither Noddy nor Angus Young and co. are up for interview, so the details are just narrated over Slade’s live footage.
The interviews are rather standard, and some interviewees are a bit more animated than others. Dee Snider seemed happy to be there, recollecting his band’s appearance on Musikladen and how Twisted Sister held the banner up for “glitter rock” in the 1980s when KISS had gone makeup-less. Or Michael Schenker (UFO, The Scorpions) recalling how his teenage guitar twiddling led to his entry into the genre. Other interviews are intriguing for other reasons, like the camera focusing on Michael Monroe’s hand gestures as he explains what he found impressive about Punk, the Ramones and Van Halen.
However, the live footage is the real highlight. There is a nice performance of “Highway Star” by Deep Purple, and some literally explosive performances from the Plasmatics. Some have some knowing narration over them- like one describing the fall of Punk into staid fashion over footage of Plastic Bertrand. But the best ones let the music do the talking, be it Alice Cooper, Motörhead or Doro. Shame they are all shown relatively briefly before the film goes back into documentary mode.
Come on Feel the Noize: The Story of How Rock Became Metal might have been better if it was just the performances with a few interviews to bookend the clips. The actual documentary part is quite dry and generic, passing on nothing new beyond some random, contextless quips every now and then. There is little new here that keen Rock fans will not have already known, and there is not enough of the new stuff to keep them satiated. Rock newbies may get something out of it yet there are better options out there. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Come on Feel the Noize: The Story of How Rock Became Metal 2.5 out of 5 stars.