Director and writer Bob Nalbandian, who is probably best known for his compelling ‘Inside Metal’ documentary series, returns as the director and producer of the new documentary “Band vs Brand.” The new film, which will be coming to DVD and digital streaming outlets in March 2019 via Cleopatra Entertainment, covers the topic of making the comparison between the artistic integrity of a band vs the often exploitative business side of the music industry. It’s an interesting deeper dive into a topic that’s been heavily discussed lately among music enthusiasts, especially fans of classic hard rock and metal bands of the seventies and eighties. With many of these now “legacy” acts having, in one way or another, endured multiple lineup changes, deaths of key members, breakups, legal battles, and other turmoil, the idea of when a band is still the same band worthy of carrying on their original namesake logically comes into question. Well-known names such as Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Jack Russell (Jack Russell’s Great White), Frank DiMino (Angel), Dave Lombardo (Sucididal Tendencies, ex-Slayer), Marc Ferrari (Keel, Ferrari), Nik Turner (Hawkwind), and other notable veterans of the music industry weigh in to offer their personal insights on the “Band vs Brand” debate.
Filmed and presented in a straightforward and stripped-down style, this doc doesn’t try to hide behind flashy editing and hype to deliver its impact. Taking on more of a bootleg aesthetic, the majority of its just over an hour and a half runtime is filled with substantial slices of raw interview footage, split into various sub-segments that break down the main topic from all angles. Interwoven sparsely are brief voice narrations and live concert clips from the archives.
A few moments I found particularly memorable came from Ellefson who likened band logos to automobile logos in their ability to signify quality, Wendell Neeley (The Classic Metal Show) who brings up a great point about bands who rose to fame prior to the MTV-era becoming identified more by their sound rather than the visual image of their band members, and Lombardo who talks about bands exploiting their brand by going on without original members – something that certainly must hit home for him as his ex-bandmates trudge on under the Slayer monicker despite the absence of 50% of their original lineup.
This documentary is definitely a must-watch for seventies and eighties hard rock and metal enthusiasts who will likely gain an entertaining and informative insight into the current climate facing some of the biggest bands of the last several decades. Nalbandian, who has made a name for himself by going “Inside Metal,” has now given fans an inside look into another unique (and somewhat taboo) aspect of the music industry with “Band vs Brand.”