LONDON: The first 20 minutes or so of “Metal Lords” — Netflix’s tale of a pair of high-school outcasts desperate to start a metal band — feel like pretty standard (read, generic) music comedy fare. But pretty soon after, this disarmingly likable movie begins to flex its creative muscles in pretty much every department. After all, it’s written by DB Weiss (co-creator of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”), directed by Peter Sollett (“Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist”), and has Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and Ramin Djawadi (“Game of Thrones,” “Westworld”) on music duties. It might easily get lost in the depths of Netflix’s menus, but “Metal Lords” is a cut above your average high-school movie.
Hunter (Adrian Greensmith) and Kevin (Jaeden Martell) are a pair of socially awkward teens, who bond over the daily churn of high school and spend their evenings shredding in Hunter’s basement. Their fledgling band is missing something, however. Could it be that fellow outcast, cello player Emily (Isis Hainsworth), could be the person to catapult them to international stardom?
Well, it’s not quite that simple. Because, as with almost every part of this movie, nothing is as predictable as we might assume. Weiss’ script makes his trio of teenage leads far more complicated and nuanced than you would initially suspect. It’s heartening to see high-school characters who don’t neatly fit into tried-and-tested tropes, and captivating to see those same characters played by young actors with ability beyond their years.
This is less a movie about metal, and more one about discovering what you love and then unashamedly embracing it. It’s a feel-good movie with metal as its backdrop — but there’s still plenty here to enjoy for fans of the genre. “Metal Lords” boasts some stellar cameos, and a soundtrack rammed with classics. But even if you’ve never listened to a Slayer album in your life, you’ll find plenty here to love.