One of the things that I love most about underground metal is that so many diehard fans fulfill so many roles within the metal community. A lot of the kids that you see at the grind show are also in bands. The dude rockin’ out at the front might own a distro. That girl might run the screenprinting service where all the locals get their band shirts made. Another guy might be taking photographs for his blog, or promoting the show, or running a small label on the side. Extreme music requires extreme commitment.

Filmmaker Kenneth Thomas is one of those extremely committed folks. He’s a filmmaker with 15 years of experience, mostly in documentary work but also in producing music videos and EPK footage for Isis, Neurosis, Queens of the Stone Age and tons more. Back when he was living in Los Angeles, I would see Thomas at most every show I went to. Sometimes he had a film camera with him; sometimes he was just rockin’ out with everyone else. After five years of work, he’s just about to release his latest project, Blood Sweat and Vinyl: DIY in the 21st Century.

The film focuses on the bands, label workers and assorted cast of characters surrounding three independent labels: Hydra Head, Neurot and Constellation. Each of these labels has its own distinctive aesthetic, and one of them (Constellation) doesn’t release anything close to metal. What all three share, however, is a fierce insistence on keeping an artist-centered, DIY spirit alive.

Blood Sweat and Vinyl: DIY in the 21st Century pulls some amazing quotes and stories from members of Neurosis, Isis, Cave In, Pelican, Jesu, Oxbow, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Do Make Say Think and many more. It’s a goldmine of exclusive footage for fans, but it’s also a compelling piece for curious onlookers. Through Thomas’s boatloads of interviews, concert footage and historic documentation, you get a deep understanding of why it is that these labels and bands care so much about the music that they release, why they’re willing to sacrifice financial reward for complete creative freedom.

If you’re in Seattle, you can catch a screening of the doc this Sunday, August 7th at the Northwest Film Forum. Everyone else may have to wait until later this year, when Blood Sweat and Vinyl will be released as a double-disc DVD release later this year.

Find out more about Blood Sweat and Vinyl here. It’ll make you proud to listen to this music.









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