"Shredders of Metal" web series

Sam Dunn (the guy behind the documentary “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey” and the TV series “Metal Evolution”), now is involved with a youtube channel called “BangerTV”. This spring, they did a casting call for a reality-TV style shred guitar competition, and the episodes have been released over the course of this week.

I think the level of talent on display from the contestants is pretty mixed (I think the only thing up for grabs is “bragging rights”, and contestants needed to either be local to where the thing was taped, or pay their own travel and accomodation for the taping).

Probably the coolest thing is they had Alex Skolnick as one of the judges.

While I can see why some people might philosophically object to the idea of treating music as a contest, I think the overall structure of this has potential to be fun and interesting in future iterations, especially if publicity around this first “season” allows them to attract a more balanced field of highly skilled players in the future.

Episode 1:


I haven’t seen this yet but I love the idea of anything giving exposure to guitar players since vocalists have gotten so much exposure with all the reality competition shows based entirely on them… I don’t object to the idea of competition in music at all because competition is and always has been a huge part of the rock music business. If you go to an audition you compete against everyone auditioning. If you play clubs you compete for a gig at a club with the other bands wanting that same gig at that same club. The winner of the competition is the band that can draw the most people and therefore money, to the club! Competition is part of any business; it is the essence of capitalism and countries based on capitalism have produced every legendary band that ever was. Who were the legendary bands to come from China or The Soviet Union? China alone has 4 times the population of The USA but with all those people never managed to put one legendary band together. Yngwie moved to The USA from Sweden because as he said he never could have done what he has done anywhere else.

They really need to have backing tracks for rhythm, other than that I like the idea. I also like it because it made me feel a lot better about my playing.

Wow, some of these guys (and gal) really sucked! There were also a few players who were good but I expected a much higher overall level of playing ability. If you were paying attention to Alex Skolnick’s facial expressions, he seems to literally be in pain at some points of this competition and I don’t blame him.

On the positive side, I think Frankie C was pretty good, easily the front runner so far and I predict he will win the whole contest. I love the format - playing without a band or backing track really puts the ficus entirely where it should be = 0n the guitarists and their playing. It’s harder to sound good without a backing track, so since that makes it more challenging, I’m glad they did it that way. Besides, they’re not grading them on songwriting. This is the equivalent of the unaccompanied guitar solo in a heavy metal concert and it’s all about chops. Again, I love the idea of a competition that finally focuses on guitarists rather than vocalists!

If I could choose the judges they’d be Yngwie Malmsteen (his comments alone would be priceless and perhaps the most entertaining part of the whole show), Michael Angelo Batio, and Zakk Wylde. Dave Mustaine and Ted Nugent would also be cool to see as judges, and like Yngwie, their comments would be priceless! Nugent would add diversity because he comes from a time when there was more emphasis on soulfulness in hard/heavy rock and metal and he’s so articulate! Mustaine is also a very articulate man and he brings another perspective to this as a guy who has auditioned tons of shred guitarists over the years for the spot in Megadeth of lead guitarist. So he brings with him the “band leader” perspective as in “Which of these guys has the most to offer a band” rather than “Who was the flashiest or most outrageous.” Cool show!!!

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I was checking out the “most viewed” videos on the BangerTV channel, and hadn’t previously realized that a Sam Dunn interview with Yngwie is the source of the famous “more is more” video clip:


I had also forgotten that! Ha ha! Sam Dunn seems like a good guy. I thoroughly enjoyed his documentary on metal which was named something like “A headbanger’s Journey.” Remember the part where he tried to interview a drunken black metal musician? That must have felt awkward!

I whole heartedly support Yngwie being a judge.

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It would be so cool! I would absolutely love to see that!

I think anyone who had the balls to play in public, be it online or elsewhere, should be praised for doing so, even if they suck or not. I wouldn’t have the confidence to play in front of the judges like they do!

Good point. It’s really unrelated to how skilled they are or aren’t but having the balls to do it is admirable. I was expecting shred guitarists who were as good at playing that style, as the vocaiists who competed on American Idol were at singing in their style. You can say what you want about American Idol and I was never a fan of it, but the final 8 or 10 singers or whatever the number was before they started eliminating on per week were relatively much more skilled than say, the first guitarist to play in that competition. The guy who I predict to win - Frankie C, is at the level I expected their average contestant to be. I don’t think my expectations were unreasonable because there are a lot of tremendous unknown guitarists out there all over the world. I thought they would have had a more rigorous screening process so that players like the first two to be eliminated would simply never have been considered for the contest. I could walk into a good sized music store at random and probably find some guitarists that are better than some of the guitarists that were in that competition. I love the concept and the format of it though!

All of these (Vysotsky in particular) had at least part of their careers in the Soviet years, and Vysotsky is a household name in Russia. You’re assuming that because you don’t hear about a musician or group in Ye Olde США that they’re not legendary somewhere else.

I’ll wait for someone who knows more about China to come along and put their two cents in on that front.

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God damn it Tim! I played a few gigs with him over the years and worked at a guitar store with him and I’ve seen him play at least a billion times. He’s a much better player than that. What a shame.

American Idol is a funny contest. There was a guy on America’s Got Talent, IIRC, called Puddles Pity Party. I had been following him on YouTube for a while before the show and I think he is a very talented singer. As you would expect with these TV talent shows he got eliminated!! I’m guessing part of the reason was that he was a 50 something year old man with average looks.

He’s not too far from me, if I remember right. nope that’s not correct

He’s sang with Postmodern Jukebox:

Great voice, entertaining schtick.

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On one hand , it’s good to believe in yourself and have guts, but if you suck, and you think your good , you’re just delusional.

Frankie C. Is a very good player, although that clean piece he did in season 4 was strange…

Great premise for a show , but very low standards and obviously no screening process.
These guys were awful, couldn’t bend a note in tune , or use vibrato to save their lives.

Hearing the judges compliment these guys (not counting frankie ) Seemed disingenuous.
I get it they can’t tear them apart, but once again, is this the best you can bring in?

Shame, because the premise is very cool.
No backing tracks is an another bone head move… ugh

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That article is legendary. Malmsteens comments are priceless.

His critique of Hammett is brilliant. …his solos take the song down… lol

You just hit the nail on the head! Also, regarding the somewhat disingenuous remarks made by the judges, or some of them anyway, there was one judge who was very sincere, at least with the facial expressions he showed during the “contest.” Do you know which judge I’m referring to?

Alex S. Looked disturbed by much of what he’s was hearing. … and the first guy was wincing,…
Not sure how they screened, what budget they had or the talent pool they chose from, but apart from Frankie and maybe Alex it was low…

What’s the incentive to be on the show? Bragging rights? Exposure? … future endorsements???

Frankie won btw… it’s on youtube…

Season 2 of this show finished airing recently. It’s up on YP.

So apparently, shred guitar is spastic right hand picking, while moving your left hand fingers as fast as possible? Aside from 2 guys, the contestants barely have fundamental guitar skills. Even the ones that stand out are playing beyond their capabilities and bend a note in tune!

Why do all backing tracks consist of psuedo mega death trash metal?

The concept of the show is intriguing, but the show makes me angry on every level…

This is pretty fun. Even though the competitors aren’t a perfect sampling the show itself borrows effective tropes from other reality competition shows and keeps it friendly. The judges try hard to accentuate the positive and not discourage without pandering. Thanks for sharing!