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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Netflix’s ‘Metal Lords’ is more than just metal

Cast members Jaeden Martell, Adrian Greensmith and Isis Hainsworth gave us a closer look at Netflix’s new release “Metal Lords.”
Costume design in “Metal Lords” really contributes to the grungy metal vibe. (Metal Lords/Netflix)

Thanks to Professor Jennifer Gunderman’s History of Rock class, we have all heard of Kiss, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Netflix’s new film “Metal Lords,” written and produced by D.B. Weiss, takes the passion for heavy metal to a new extreme.

Hunter (Adrian Greensmith, in his first film role as opposed to theater) is a diehard fan of metal rock, with the wardrobe, knowledge and musical talent on the electric guitar to prove it. One problem: he needs to win his high school’s Battle of the Bands as the first step to achieving his dream of becoming a star.

The poster for the film demonstrates the humor of high school students forming a metal band. (Metal Lords/Netflix) (Netflix)

He enlists his best friend Kevin (Jaeden Martell, best known for his lead roles in “It” and “The Book of Henry”) to play drums, and Emily (Isis Hainsworth, from “Emma.” and “Harlots”) on the bass—not to mention her mad cello skills and her angry temperament, perfectly suited for a metal performance. When Hunter starts to prioritize metal over everything while Kevin and Emily’s romantic feelings for each other blossom, their chances of winning the Battle of the Bands dwindle. In an unexpectedly R-rated way, raunchiness, nudity and even gore ensue as the teengers strive to resolve their personal issues and put metal over all else. 

We had the privilege of sitting down with these three stars in a virtual college roundtable to gain more insight into the film and ask some burning questions. Martell has had several roles in major films, so we wanted to know how this role was different from most.

“It was intimidating for me to get into [this role] because I am used to playing someone who is quiet and boring,” Martell said. “Kevin is kind of quiet and boring, but he eventually grows out of that and becomes a tough dude. It was a lot of fun to switch it up a little bit.” 

Martell has always played the brilliant nerd in his previous roles, but in this film he blossomed out of that awkwardness. Not only did he become less shy, he went full metal. This 180 is shown by his new skills on the drums, scandalous black wardrobe and rough persona. It was amazing to see his new bleache-blonde hair and gentle demeanor, after seeing this version of his character in the film.

He also mentioned that the comedy and interactions with the other three characters in the script drew him to this movie. 

Each of the three leads in “Metal Lords” actually learned how to play their respective instruments for the film. Dedication. (Metal Lords/Netflix) (Netflix)

Greensmith also performs well, especially in how he communicates Hunter’s unique obsession with the world of metal. As a viewer, it was hard to ignore, as his enthusiasm simply stares you in the face in every scene of the movie. Funny enough, Greensmith was not a metal head before acting in this role, but he said he found it easy enough to fake the passion.

“[Metal] is so loud and so powerful; it is kind of visceral, you feel it in your whole form,” Greensmith said. “Even if I didn’t have a familiar relationship with it beforehand, you can’t really help but have this gut feeling and response when you play it. I didn’t need to do that much pretending or acting.” 

Each character came from very different acting backgrounds, with Martell from feature films, Greensmith from the theater and Hainsworth from smaller roles, and yet  they all came together to help this film become a music-filled, comedy feature. With “Game of Thrones” co-creator D.B. Weiss writing this R-rated movie, it was easy to be “drawn to the script and the comedy aspects,” Martell said.

But the R-rated qualities were also very obvious. I was even a little surprised by the film’s vulgarity and views of hookup culture. I was prepared to watch a film along the lines of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” meets hard metal, but instead I was presented with “American Pie” level nudity and metal-obsessed characters.

While I did enjoy all the references to the metal genre, including band posters littering Hunter’s bedroom walls and guest appearances by members from the band Mastodon, Tom Morello and Troy Nix from the band Kiloton, I felt that the plot moved incredibly quickly. Often, character development and plot took a backseat to simply making as many references as possible. 

Despite this swiftness, the music performances were awesome. Martell, Greensmith and Hainsworth all learned how to play their respective instruments, which is impressive dedication. Their heavy metal performances rivaling the other teen band’s pop performances made for an enjoyable movie soundtrack as well.

“Metal Lords” allows viewers a new perspective on a type of music they may often overlook. By pairing teenage relationships with this genre, we see a more personal side to the metal lifestyle, something we might assume is too harsh to be likable. This film proves otherwise.

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About the Contributor
Grace Delmonte
Grace Delmonte, Staff Writer
Grace Delmonte ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science double-majoring in neuroscience and medicine, health & society. She is from Atlanta, Ga., and serves as a staff writer in the Life Section. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her running around Centennial Park, baking, working in her research lab or exploring restaurants around Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
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