The title Heavy Metal is somewhat misleading. Sure, this terrific soundtrack from the 1981 animated cult favorite features heavy metal and hard rock numbers. But the title refers to National Lampoon's sci-fi/fantasy magazine on which the film is based. Musically, Heavy Metal offers more than the title suggests, and the songs fit perfectly with their respective film segments. Heavy Metal was originally a double album, but at 62 minutes it fits just fine on one CD. Sixteen songs are contributed by Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Don Felder, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, Riggs, and Trust; Cheap Trick, Felder, and Riggs each provide two. Most songs are exclusive to this soundtrack. The best-known song here is Journey's ballad "Open Arms." Blue Oyster Cult's darkly menacing "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" is a haunting gem. Devo's quirky, new wave interpretation of the Allen Toussaint-penned "Working in the Coal Mine" was a minor hit. Black Sabbath's blistering "The Mob Rules" is a fine example of the underrated Ronnie James Dio era. Felder's "Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)" and "All of You" are well-crafted, and they make a good argument that he was the Eagles' secret musical weapon. Fagen's "True Companion" is a delightful jazz-rock song that would have fit nicely on a Steely Dan album. The odd thing is this five-minute tune is practically an instrumental; Fagen doesn't start singing until 3½ minutes in. Nazareth's "Crazy (A Suitable Case for Treatment)" has a hypnotic rhythm. Stevie Nicks' "Blue Lamp" is clean, upbeat pop/rock. Cheap Trick's "Reach Out" and "I Must Be Dreamin'" rely more on synthesizers than power-pop guitars. Riggs' "Radar Rider" is basic, catchy hard rock.
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AllMusic Review by Bret Adams