One of the most prominent metalcore bands playing today started practicing in a barn in Amish Country. But Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is known more for its farms and PA Dutch culture than its music scene.
Metalcore is a subgenre of heavy metal known for its guttural screams, precise yet pummeling drumbeats, and brutal percussive riffs called “breakdowns.”
This extreme style became the voice of many young, blue collar, and often church-going young people from the rural suburbs of Lancaster County, who built a strong community for themselves around the music. The underground metalcore scene of Lancaster county grew from a small DIY effort to a creative movement that established a unique sound and internationally acclaimed, Grammy-nominated artists.
Through first-person accounts, concert footage, rare photos and old videos, Barn Burner explores the power of community within this unexplored moment in American music history.
Members of August Burns Red, This Or The Apocalypse, Texas in July, and more describe their upbringing in rural communities and how it influenced them to seek out a new sense of belonging in music. Mirroring the yeoman’s work ethic exhibited by their families and community members, bands booked their own shows, printed their own flyers, and built their own equipment. As the scene grew, it found support from some unlikely places. Texas in July relates stories of how their parents drove them around when they toured at only 16 years old. Bands discuss how heavy music became so popular that even local churches began hosting shows. This unlikely mix of familial support, church sponsorship, and dedication to aggressive music catapulted Lancaster, Pennsylvania to a household name in heavy music.
Anecdotes from renowned musicians like Matt Halpern of Periphery, Dave Stephens of We Came As Romans, and Eric Lambert of blessthefall demonstrate how influential the Lancaster metalcore sound has been to artists all over the world.
Barn Burner is more than just a music documentary. It is a story about coming of age in the midst of clashing cultures. The Lancaster metalcore scene joins together the seeming contradictions between small-town conservatism and worldly ambition, between modest faith and extreme art, to form a vibrant yet still underappreciated piece of culture. This documentary finally tells its story.
Barn Burner was featured in the following festivals: