16 must-see metal rockumentaries to stream right now

(Image credit: Future)

With many countries on lockdown and a growing toll of gig and festival casualties, it's advisable to self-isolate and minimise any activities that could put you in contact with, well... other humans. 

To some, this might sound like a dream come true. Two weeks of unadulterated bliss. No pressure to leave your safe, cosy little cocoon of germ-free bliss.

But to others – those who thrive off of socialising, extroverts and anyone who had a gig or festival planned in the next couple months – it can be a pretty daunting thought. How do you keep yourself entertained without going stir-crazy?

Well, we've done our best to help ward off the isolation anxieties by tirelessly flicking through online streaming services and picking out the best metal documentaries available to watch now on Amazon Prime, Netflix and YouTube.

So spend your time wisely and swot up on your heavy metal history knowledge.

Disclaimer: This list is based on UK availability, some of these titles may not be available in your country. Check a search engine like justwatch.com to find out where you can stream them.

Amazon Prime

Last Days Here (2011) (opens in new tab)

Last Days Here (2011) (opens in new tab)

Billed as the United States' answer to Black Sabbath (opens in new tab), this is the story of Pentagram – or, more accurately, Pentagram mastermind Bobby Liebling. 

The documentary follows Liebling's attempt to record a new Pentagram record and take the band back on the road with the help of his manager, Sean "Pellet" Pelletier, after spending most of his life addicted to crack and living in his parents' basement. 

It's a poignant, often heartbreaking, but ultimately triumphant tale of an ageing musician who, after decades spent struggling with addition, manages to get his life (and band) somewhat back in shape.

Death By Metal (2016) (opens in new tab)

Death By Metal (2016) (opens in new tab)

Considering the influence of virtuoso Chuck Schuldiner (opens in new tab) and his seminal band Death, there's a surprising lack of documentary material about reluctant 'Godfather of death metal'. 

It's about time then, that Schuldiner is given the tribute he so deserves. Death By Metal paints a portrait of the late guitarist's life and career through interviews with former bandmates and family, as well as archive testimonies of the man itself. 

The result is the raw and honest story of a passionate, driven and often difficult visionary whose life might have been cut tragically short, but whose legacy has made him immortal.

Get Thrashed!: The Story of Thrash Metal (opens in new tab)

Get Thrashed!: The Story of Thrash Metal (opens in new tab)

Featuring the likes of Metallica (opens in new tab)'s Lars Ulrich (opens in new tab), Death Angel, Anthrax' (opens in new tab)s Frank Bello, Dave Mustaine (opens in new tab) and Godsmack's Sully Erna, Get Thrashed! is the story of thrash metal from the people involved in the scene, tracing the subgenre from its humble beginnings in the 1980s to a worldwide phenomenon by the 1990s. 

Binge it quick: Get Thrashed! is leaving Prime on March 31, 2020

The Decline of Western Civilization: Part II - The Metal Years (1988) (opens in new tab)

The Decline of Western Civilization: Part II - The Metal Years (1988) (opens in new tab)

The follow up to Penelope Spheeris' 1981 seminal chronicle of LA punk, The Metal Years (opens in new tab) does exactly what it says on the pack. Spheeris has turned her attention to the struggling up-and-coming musicians of LA once again, but this time it's at the height of glam metal. Aside from these unsigned acts, the film also documents the extent of heavy metal excess through interviews with the likes of W.A.S.P. (opens in new tab), Paul Stanley (opens in new tab), Aerosmith (opens in new tab), Lemmy (opens in new tab) and Ozzy Osbourne (opens in new tab).

American Hardcore (2006) (opens in new tab)

American Hardcore (2006) (opens in new tab)

Based on Steven Blush's book American Hardcore: A Tribal History (opens in new tab), is packed full of rare grainy footage from California's sweaty urban dives back in the late-80s. Witness Black Flag (opens in new tab), Bad Brains (opens in new tab), Minor Threat (opens in new tab) and the Dead Kennedys (opens in new tab) tear up the rockstar rulebooks alongside interviews with all the major players, including Henry Rollins (opens in new tab) and Ian MacKaye.

Until The Light Takes Us (opens in new tab)

Until The Light Takes Us (opens in new tab)

This infamous documentary follows Darkthrone (opens in new tab)'s Fenriz and Burzum's Varg Vikernes a decade after black metal (opens in new tab) recieved worldwide notoriety following the infamous church burnings and murder that occurred in Norway.

It chronicles the the history of Norwegian black metal, its aesthetics and ideologies through shocking, unfiltered conversations with some of the scene's biggest names. The ever lovable Fenriz, however, comes across like a boss.

Soaring Highs and Brutal Lows: The Voices of Women in Metal (opens in new tab)

Soaring Highs and Brutal Lows: The Voices of Women in Metal (opens in new tab)

Eight female vocalists, one male-dominated music scene. Soaring Highs and Brutal Lows tracks the history of women in heavy metal. Doro (opens in new tab), Floor Jansen (opens in new tab) of Nightwish (opens in new tab) and Alissa White-Gluz (opens in new tab) of Arch Enemy (opens in new tab)are just three of the incredible women interviewed who offer a compelling insight into the life of a female singer in music's heaviest genre.

Blackhearts (2017) (opens in new tab)

Blackhearts (2017) (opens in new tab)

Three die hard black metal fans from across the globe pilgrimage to the home of their beloved subgenre: Norway. Blackhearts follows Sina from Iran, Hector from Columbia and Kaidais from Greece as they make this unholy journey to the country that spawned the music that has shaped their entire lives.

Netflix

Lemmy (2010) (opens in new tab)

Lemmy (2010) (opens in new tab)

Filmed over a decade ago, Lemmy is an intimate portrait of the life of the late Motorhead (opens in new tab) frontman Ian Fraser Kilmister (opens in new tab) – warts and all. The beloved rock'n'roll hero is seen spending his days at L.A.'s Rainbow Bar and Grill (when he's not on tour), and hanging with his son in his unassuming apartment. Interviews with his former bandmates, peers and admirers (including Slash (opens in new tab), Ozzy (opens in new tab), Nikki Sixx (opens in new tab) and James Hetfield (opens in new tab)) help paint a well-rounded picture of this straight-talking legend.

Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster (2004) (opens in new tab)

Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster (2004) (opens in new tab)

Filmed during one of the most turbulent periods in the band’s history, Some Kind of Monster provides a captivating insight into a Metallica (opens in new tab) on the brink of implosion. 

Comprised of studio and fragmented concert footage between 2002 and 2004, this two plus hour long documentary, fraught with turmoil, lawsuits, and creative struggles acts as a fly on the wall for a band forced (as a result of sobriety) to work through decades of pent up issues previously suppressed by substance abuse. 

This rollercoaster of emotions would prove a necessary catharsis and an unexpected future for the most successful heavy metal band of all time.

Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (opens in new tab)

Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (opens in new tab)

Dubbed the greatest movie ever made about rock and roll, the story of Anvil follows two lifelong friends and musicians, that never really made it, on their journey into heavy metal stardom. 

A hilarious and moving masterpiece depicting the not so glamorous side of fame that many of today’s bands worth their salt can relate to - the grotty club shows, difficult relationships and logistical nightmares that can plague an artist’s existence are all captured in a heartfelt and inspiring way that will have you rooting for metal’s greatest underdogs. 

Anvil (opens in new tab) really are the life Spinal Tap (opens in new tab) and their tenacity and sheer will to make their dream into a reality is a testament to us all for never giving up hope.

Who The F**k Is That Guy (2017) (opens in new tab)

Who The F**k Is That Guy (2017) (opens in new tab)

You could be forgiven for never having heard of Michael Alago, a metal-obsessed kid from Puerto Rico, as the title says it all. But as it turns out, his name is one we all should know. This enthusiastic South American metalhead ended up signing an unknown bunch of thrash metal drunks from San Francisco called Metallica and working with some of the biggest names in rock.

YouTube

Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986) (opens in new tab)

Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986) (opens in new tab)

Filmed at a Maryland concert arena parking lot during a Judas Priest (opens in new tab) concert, Heavy Metal Parking Lot has become a cult phenomenon. While Decline is about the stars of the scene, Parking Lot is all about the fans. Its mid-80s metalheads in their element, we're talking double denim, plenty of Aqua Net, mullets, spandex, muscle cars and more. 

Slow Southern Steel (2010) (opens in new tab)

Slow Southern Steel (2010) (opens in new tab)

Everything moves slower in the South, and that includes the metal – but that as sure as hell don't make it any less heavy. Slow Southern Steel is a chronicle of the rise of the dirty, deep, sludge of the South featuring interviews with the likes of Phil Anselmo, members of Alabama Thunderpussy, EyeHateGod, Down, Black Tusk and more.

Such Hawks Such Hounds (2005) (opens in new tab)

Such Hawks Such Hounds (2005) (opens in new tab)

Such Hawks Such Hounds: Scenes from the American Hard Rock Underground traces the rise of the stoner, doom, desert and sludge subgenres of metal in the USA, from Pentagram to Kyuss to SUNN O))). Warning: This one might inspire you to start smoking grass...

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