Movie Review
Heavy In Houston
Produced by Derek Norman, Rusty Conner, Mandy Manslaughter, and Hillary Marek
Directed by Derek Norman
Acadia Bar & Grill  7/29/12  
Sunday evening

by Andrew C Schlett

Truthfully, there has never been a documentary film, or any sort of film at all, ever made about the Houston music scene.  The very phrase ‘Houston Music Scene’ could cover such a wide spectrum of musical genres and sub-genres as to be indefinable when taken as a whole, but when you parse it down, and find just the right particular musical niche to aim your documentary spotlight upon, you might uncover a group of bands all playing with a recognizably metal edge and a noticeably similar passion.  Once this documentary effort gets out and is seen by the masses, you may unwittingly be on the verge of becoming the Original Authority on The Next Big Thing.  Filmmaker Derek Norman is in almost immediate peril of having this title thrust upon him, because when he embarked on this project he had no real idea where it was going to end up, or where it might lead him to.  He still has no idea, and neither do any of the rest of us.  Only the passage of time can judge the success of this effort (and of the music featured within) but it is my guess that it is judged favorably by not only everybody who was there for the movie’s premier showing and party last Sunday night at Acadia, but also by history.

They say that it’s difficult to paint a picture in words.  It’s even harder to paint a motion picture in words, but since putting music into words is what we do here at Rivethead, and since we are an actual Original Authority on the underground Houston metal sound, we’re probably qualified to do a review of the movie that could very likely open the doors of recognition, finally, for the Bayou City.

Heavy In Houston is a two-hour journey into the heart of some of the rippingest metal to come out of these parts in quite a long time, and includes just a dash of hard rock thrown in, since the two are not mutually exclusive.  Between the video clips from such groundbreaking bands as Azrael’s Bane, Phantom X, bakbone, and Decimation Theory, there are insightful feature interviews with people like Matt Hughes, Ansley Stewart, Alex Lorenzana, and many other very influential players in this ongoing Houston Music resurrection.  These, combined with the sheer power of the musical presentations depicted on screen, bring forth a film which not only lives but breathes, and it breathes pure Houston.  From the opening credits to the final scene, this movie holds the attention of any viewer who bangs their head, and enthralls those who do not.

Not everything in this film is pretty.  Norman gets down to the grimy more than once with many of these bands, and some of the material presented here may well be offensive to old ladies, young children and conservatives.  Unapologetic in his approach, Norman lays bare the current state of the ‘Metal Scene’ here in Houston and puts it out to the world with warts and all. 

The music featured in this film is the stuff of future legend.  From the first opening riffs to the Failed to Reason song “III” played through the closing credits, this is a non-stop shred-fest of the best that our town has to offer.  Songs from Bagheera, Devon Mycah, Epic Death, Carry The Storm, Mechanisms of a False Reality, Ten Ton Hammer and many others comprise the soundtrack.  Of course there are bands that were left out or overlooked by this movie.  That’s to be expected in a very big city where there are more bands than there are venues to see them at, and Norman couldn’t include everybody.  It’s simply impossible to be exposed to every band in this town and slot them all into 120 minutes of film.  But trust me when I say that he included absolutely as much as he could, and that the DVD is slated to run for just over three hours.  It could have been even longer than that, and Norman says there are plans in the works already for a part two.  Before long it’ll be Heavy In Houston part 19, and there would still be bands not covered.  Nor would there be even one band that’s lame at all.

A shout must go out also to Acadia Bar & Grill for hosting this event.  The movie was made even better by the festive atmosphere created by the complimentary grub and the $5 pitchers they sold all night long.  Acadia did a great job making this premier a memorable occasion, and we thank them for being such a great host!

As of this time, the DVD version of this film has not yet been released.  When it is, though, it will become a must-have for any lover of metal documentaries.  Stay close to Rivethead for information on when and how you can score a DVD for yourself!

Editor's update:  Heavy In Houston has come out on DVD since the original posting of this review.  As a matter of fact, it's now an even longer 'Extended Edition' spanning almost three full hours and including many more bands than the original two-hour version did.  If you happen to have a copy of this gem, or if you pick one up, be sure to check the press blurb on the front cover pictured here below.  Thanks Derek!  You rule, brother!

Because The Music Matters!!!