Murder in the Front Row-The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story

Murder in the Front Row: The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story (2019)

Here’s my first film review on here.  Luckily I live in the birthplace of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and they are cool enough to show some metal-related movies and documentaries.  Last night, they screened the above documentary about the birth of the Bay Area thrash scene.  It was so damn good that I damn near squirted some tears at a couple of points during the screening.

So, my formative metal years were smack dab in the middle of the 80s.  Iron Maiden, Priest, AC/DC, Saxon, Van Halen were all gateway drugs for my transformation from shy, scrawny and geeky pre-teen into a shy, scrawny and geeky metalhead.  And then my friends and I found Metallica.  And nothing was ever the same.  These guys weren’t of the hair metal Sunset Strip bands that were hot in the early-mid 80s.  They were aggression and intricate musicianship personified.  I had never heard such aggressive riffs nor heard such lyrics filled with such rage and angst and horror.  And the dudes producing the music were just a bunch of fucking badasses.  No spandex.  No hairspray.  No makeup.  Just long hair, jeans and tour shirts.  They looked just fucking like us.  Fuck, they were us.  And then came Megadeth, Slayer, Exodus and Testament following Metallica’s lead and thrash metal was birthed.  And there was much rejoicing.

This documentary is a love letter to the early thrash scene centered in the East Bay area of the San Francisco Bay.  It is filled with interviews, photos and live footage from everyone that was there.  It’s funny.  It’s inspiring.  It’s a nostalgic look back to a golden age of metal.  All you heroes are here.  Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, Death Angel, Forbidden, Vio-lence, Laaz Rocket, Possessed.  And Exodus.  Fucking Exodus.  Exodus is the real star of this thing and it’s nice to see them get ample credit for being the mainstay of this scene.  Metallica may have gone on to become the biggest metal band ever, but Exodus is the heart and soul of the Bay Area scene.  And if you don’t end up tearing up a bit during the parts about Cliff Burton and Paul Baloff’s deaths, well, I just don’t know about you as a human.  I honestly didn’t realize Burton was fucking 24 when he died.  Just a baby.  Such a sad loss.

Seek this one out if you came of age during this time.  Hell, seek it out if you didn’t.  Seek it out even if you don’t like metal.  I doubt you’ll be able to see it on the big screen.  I think they are doing some one-off screenings of it around the country, but your best bet is to try and find it on your favorite streaming service.  I know you have to be internet savvy if you ended up on my rinky-dink little site.  Go find it now.

10 flip flops out of 5

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