Sound of Metal Creates an Entire World Out of Sound
What, exactly, does metal sound like? Sound of Metal, writer-director Darius Marder’s gentle story of loss, addiction, and recovery, offers a series of answers.
At first, it’s musical, the enveloping cacophony of brutal noise rock heard from the throne of a drum kit. The drummer in this story is Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed), a four-years-clean drug addict who has devoted his life to playing brash, pulverizing music with his partner, Lou (Olivia Cooke). The movie puts you in the middle of the sound as Ruben crashes cymbals and slams out impossible blast-beats. If you’ve ever played in a rock ‘n’ roll band before, you’ll recognize the sensation—the intimacy and connection with the crowd, the overwhelming swell of the music as it drowns out all else. If you haven’t played in a band before, this is about as close to the live-show experience as you’ll get. Sound of Metal doesn’t just show you what it’s like to play music. It shows you what it’s like to live it.
Which makes it that much more painful when Ruben discovers that he’s rapidly losing his ability to hear. Suddenly, the movie’s soundtrack shifts; dialogue becomes warbled and muddy, odd ringing noises interject themselves where they shouldn’t. The whole world suddenly feels out of whack. Once again, the sonic simulation of hearing disorientation is strikingly vivid and realistic. It’s more than an irritating ringing noise; it’s a fundamental and deeply frightening shift in how you interact with
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