Better than Slayer: Heavy Trip (2018)

Everything you need to know about Heavy Trip (2018) is summed up in the line, “We play symphonic post-apocalyptic reindeer-grinding Christ-abusing extreme war pagan fennoscandian metal,” and the fact that this line is repeated multiple times throughout the film’s one and a half hour-long runtime.

Speaking as a big fan of heavy metal music for as long as I can remember, it didn’t take long for me to connect with the film’s rather unorthodox subject matter. It follows a group of friends, all twenty-something year-olds working day jobs, who play in a metal band looking to make it big.

The dialogue reads like the footnote of that niche: the hopeless musician just waiting for that big break, struggling to make ends meet by working nine-to-fives. The struggles that come with this lifestyle are touched on quite substantially in the film: having to book shows, buy a touring van, promote your demo, work day-jobs, etc. The twist comes in that these musicians just happened to play death metal (as something of a purist, this is completely subjective; their take on the genre had traces of thrash and deathcore, although this is a completely different discussion on its own) and lived in Finland. As a result, the four also have to deal with the discrimination that comes with playing a rather extreme type of music. There are some true to life themes that come with it as well: overcoming adversity, maintaining personal relationships, and ultimately, the power of friendship.

And from the aforementioned description of the band’s sound, you can already tell what kind of ride you’re in for. For the untrained viewer, the four boys Impaled Rektum might come off as a little too eclectic. An example of this is when just as the four musicians are seemingly apprehended, they do the only logical thing to do in the moment: jump off a cliff and survive the fall unscathed. Yet, directors Jukka Vidgren and Juuso Laatio pull this off in way that isn’t corny or lame, and is instead genuinely fun. Even though it wasn’t as outrageous, unpleasurable, or estranged as other offerings of European cinema, Heavy Trip still had a distinctly foreign flavor to it. I felt that the dry humor for example, was reminiscent to that of Edgar Wright’s earlier work.

However, it is clear from the get-go that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should you. Once the final credits roll, I found that this took nothing away from what the film was at its core: an earnest and heartfelt love letter to the struggling musician. Every scene is able to capture the youthful excitement of being out on the road with your friends to play music, and this is contrasted with the gritty reality that playing music you’re passionate about is difficult.

Thus, since Heavy Trip is still a film about musicians, it is no surprise that the band’s music took center stage (pun intended). Their hit (and only) single is played a number of times as well throughout the film, which really lets this aspect of the film shine. Metal fans should rejoice at this; not only is it a genuinely good song, but references to metal greats are peppered in the dialogue as well.

The next time I need my fix of  symphonic post-apocalyptic reindeer-grinding Christ-abusing extreme war pagan fennoscandian metal, I’m glad I’ll know exactly where to look.

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