Images courtesy of the artist
The three young members of Brooklyn metal wunderkinds Unlocking the Truth have already had one of the most bizarre career trajectories in heavy metal history–and all before they were old enough to drive themselves to band practice. Now aged 14 and 15, vocalist/guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse, bassist Alec Atkins, and drummer Jarad Dawkins have weathered a media storm, signed a $1.8 million Sony contract, played at festivals around the world, gained (and then shed) a manager, and have just released their debut album, Chaos.
You probably knew all that already, though—Unlocking the Truth are media darlings, and have recently been making the rounds once more to support both the new album and a new documentary about their wild ride through the music business. Breaking a Monster opens in LA this weekend at the Laemmle Monica Film Center, and will both tug at your heartstrings and stir up some righteous anger at the way that major labels operate.
Filmmaker Luke Meyer chronicles Unlocking the Truth's ascent, from the band's earliest days up to the filming of its first music video. Their story is fraught with frustration—with the clueless Sony executives, with their own limitations, and especially with their increasingly controlling manager, industry veteran Alan Sacks (who comes across as an absolute caricature of a "slimy music biz shill").
You can see them fighting to be taken seriously as a band—a real band, not a "kid band"—and it's hard not to find yourself rooting for Malcolm, Alec, and Jarad, even when they get bratty or stubborn (bearing in mind that they're literal children).
The film shows how these kids got chewed up and spat out by the Sony machine (though it doesn't explain exactly what happened with that record deal_it's worth noting that the trio's new album was self-released). What is apparent, though, is now that they've escaped its clutches, they're determined to push forward. Their music may be a squeaky-clean blend of metalcore and nu-metal, but Unlocking the Truth's rebellious attitude, copious technical skill, and bullheaded tenacity is pure heavy metal.
The exclusive clip we've got for you below is an excellent peek at the various kinds of tension Breaking a Monster teases out—mother versus manager, teacher versus student, musician versus himself. Brooklyn's Nitehawk Theater is hosting a screening of the doc on August 24th as part of their monthly Music Driven series, and for more info on the documentary, click here or here—and keep an eye on your local movie times!
Kim Kelly is dodging chaos on Twitter.