"Metallica: Through the Never" is a new concert film from the masters of heavy metal. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman filed the following report for YNN.
For years, I’ve joked that the thrash-metal band Metallica has exactly two good songs, both of them off their 1991 album, "Metallica."
The first is the lovely, lilting “Nothing Else Matters,” the closest these demon noise-makers ever came to a power ballad, and the second is “Enter Sandman,” which is their irresistibly catchy if very dark idea of a lullaby.
In a way, I'd say Metallica agrees with me. These two uncharacteristically listenable songs are the final ones they play in their new concert film "Metallica: Through the Never." They know they’re saving the best for last.
The rest of the time, Metallica present themselves as thrash virtuosos of doom.
Their dark, driven atonal music, with its hell-bent rhythmic change-ups, is called metal, but it draws heavily on the speed punk of the 1980s.
It’s meant to come off like the soundtrack to a serial killer’s brain, and I can’t say it’s a sound I’ve ever really liked.
Yet, watching "Through the Never," I felt like I got Metallica for the first time.
The movie is a grand 3D opera that turns rock and roll godlessness into a genuine spectacle.
On stage, the four members of the band stand far apart, and the theatrics suggest an apocalyptic mosh pit gone Vegas, complete with fireballs and electric chairs.
James Hetfield, still the boyish biker-jock, works the crowd as if he were leading a fascist rally.
Watching "Through the Never," I realized that Metallica’s music doesn’t have to be catchy.
It’s channeling something, a primal fantasy of dread and power.
The band’s sound is transfused with a dark freedom, and though it may not be pretty, in concert, at least, it is cathartic.
Of course, "Through the Never" is being sold as more than a concert film.
The stage show is inter-cut with a live-action fable, in which the rising star Dane Dehaan plays a roadie, who’s sent out to a deserted urban landscape in what turns out to be a kind of suicide mission.
To me, these sequences were okay, in a humdrum-graphic-novel sort of way, but the movie didn't really need them.
In "Through the Never," James Hetfield and that snarling drum wizard Lars Ulrich are storybook characters enough.