Posted by: ckckred | May 16, 2016

The Music of Green Room


As a metalhead, I’ve always been disappointed with how extreme music in general has been portrayed by the mass media.  For the most part, both punk and metal have been wildly misunderstood by Hollywood, who often fail to relegate the aura of such music. While there are certainly a number of works that capture the atmosphere of heavy music (This is Spinal TapBeavis and Butt-Head, and Metalocalypse), the world in general is dismissive of the genre’s fans and culture together.

Green Room, directed by Blue Ruin‘s Jeremy Saulnier, captures the power, aggression, and anti-authoritarianism of hardcore perfectly.  The movie, which centers on the Ain’t Rights, a punk band taken hostage by a group of skinheads, is the most horrifying and thrilling picture I’ve seen in a long time.  Though we aren’t even halfway through 2016 yet, if we get any other film as good as this one, we’re in for a hell of a year.

I can talk endlessly about the movie’s raw violence, the top-notch acting (highlighted by a terrifying performance by Patrick Stewart), and the saturated aesthetics, but what really caught my attention was Saulnier’s use of music.  It’s clear that Saulnier is a fan of extreme music, even thanking bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and Aborted in the credits, and he features an incredible palette of punk and metal that fit perfectly into the movie.  Here are just a couple of examples:

Fear: “Legalize Drugs”

Is there a song that better emphasizes hardcore’s authenticity that Fear’s “Legalize Drugs?”  Saulnier thinks so, as we see the Ain’t Rights play this song off a record while chugging down some beers, introducing the true nature of punk.

Dead Kennedys: “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”

When the Ain’t Rights take the stage at the skinheads’ club, they pull out the most punkish move possible: playing the Dead Kennedys’ legendary anti-fascist ode “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.”  Jello Biafra’s deliciously sharp lyrics attack racism and violence, a jab at the skinheads who appeared at the band’s early shows.  The Dead Kennedys, perhaps better than any other hardcore band, helped mark punk as a rejection of far-right and Nazi ideology, emphasizing unity amongst fans to fight unfair institutions.

Slayer: “War Ensemble”

No band unites fans of extreme music better than Slayer, who pushed the limits of metal throughout the 80s.  Slayer of course has faced charges in the past for endorsing Nazism in the past, with critics charging the lyrics of “Angel of Death” as evidence.  Of course this couldn’t be further from the case, as Slayer’s intention is to depict these inhumane atrocities rather than encourage them, and the band has repeatedly stated that they do not support such views.  Slayer is name-dropped by the Ain’t Rights frequently as one of their greatest inspirations and unfortunately the skinheads like them too, playing “War Ensemble” over the PA system at one scene.  I’m guessing that these same guys haven’t listened to the band’s collaboration with Ice-T.

Napalm Death: “Suffer the Children”

Speaking of bands that unite metal and punk, grindcore pioneers Napalm Death also make an appearance on the soundtrack with their great song “Suffer the Children.” Mixing in Mick Harris’ pounding blast beats with Barney Greenway’s roaring gutturals, and you get one of the most furious songs of extreme music.

Obituary: “Paralyzed in Fear”

Given that Green Room is fixated on old-school hardcore, it might seem a little strange that Saulnier has this number from Obituary’s latest album Inked in Blood instead of one of their older songs like “Slowly We Rot” or “Cause of Death.”  But Obituary funded Inked in Blood through a Kickstarter campaign, accentuating the connection between the band and their fans rather than simply relying on a corporate contract deal.  This point is made explicit early on in Green Room and by picking “Paralyzed in Fear,” Saulnier reinforces this ideal.

Bad Brains: “Right Brigade”

What better way to cap off a movie about punks vs. white supremacists better than a song from Bad Brains.  Earning fame in the late 70s and early 80s for featuring an all black line-up, Bad Brains tore apart the hardcore scene with their their jazz-infused riffage and brutality, and “Right Brigade” captures the rough edges of everything punk should be.



  1. Great piece Ck, and oh how I loved this movie too. It really will be lodged in the elite few come the end of the year for me I think, all late October/early November releases be damned! I like how you incorporate a discussion about the music used in this movie, as I haven’t really gotten into the hardcore scene myself but I definitely liked a lot of the songs Saulnier used here. And the way he used them too was incredibly effective.

    • Thanks Tom. Ever since I saw Green Room this past weekend I can’t get it out of my head. I’ve been meaning to see it for so long and it blew away my highest expectations. I know it’s still early on in the year, but I can’t imagine how this can’t make my top 10 list of 2016.

      It’s got an excellent soundtrack for sure and a great selection of punk and metal numbers. It’s cool to see Saulnier’s a fan, he picked out a fantastic group of songs.

    • Your review first drew my attention to this Tom, and this comment makes me even more excited! I just wish I could see it in a cinema! It is good to hear that not only does he use great songs, but they are used effectively within the movie. Ahhhh I almost want to travel interstate just to watch this damn thing!

  2. Top piece that centres on something else other than the filmmaking. Not being a metal head the tunes were not the driving force for me. I thought the cast really convinced as a band though.

    • Thanks man. I just loved about everything about Green Room, but the music is what really captured my attention. Saulnier gives a pretty strong starting guide for hardcore, and his song palette is incredible. He actually had the band play out a couple of the songs and they’re avaliable on the film’s soundtrack. Even if extreme music isn’t your thing, I’d recommend checking out a few of the numbers, they’re pretty solid.

  3. I CANNOT wait to see this and you’ve basically given me another reason to look forward to it. Huge metal head myself and love this soundtrack, so even more excited for this now.

    • You’re gonna love this. I cannot underemphasize how amazing I thought Green Room was. It’s great to see that Saulnier’s a metalhead, he really understands and appreciates the music.

  4. I just did some research and this fucking film is playing in EVERY STATE IN AUSTRALIA EXCEPT MINE! How fucked is that?! I’ve been wanting to see this as soon as I heard about it, plus I loved Blue Ruin. And just thinking about Patrick Stewart as a neo-nazi has me even more excited.

    Now hearing that all the tunes were well picked…. goddamn this movie better be available to buy soon. War Ensemble is one of my favourite Slayer songs, and that Dead Kennedys song…. ahh what a fucking classic. And Bad Brains, flashback right there!

    “I’m guessing that these same guys haven’t listened to the band’s collaboration with Ice-T”

    Hahaha!! Also, its funny that you say that this fictional band say they were influenced by Slayer, cos when you watch old (I mean ’85, ’86) Slayer interviews, they all say that punk inspired them, like DRI and whatnot.

    If you haven’t seen it, you gotta watch this:

    You might have seen it, it is pure awesome, pure metal. Interviews with Slayer and Venom circa ’85, plus Exodus also play few songs too. And early Exodus fucking rules.

    The thing starts with Paul Baloff screaming about going down to the local disco ‘to waste a couple of people’ haha. Fucking great stuff

    “Bang you head as if up from the dead
    Intense metal is all that you need”

    Sorry for the super long reply mate, you’ve just got me all pumped up. I think I’ll go practice my blast-beasts, which I still suck at!

    Actually, when I finish editing and fiddling with them, I’d love to hear what you think of our demos!

    /rant over

    • Whoa, that sucks man. I caught Green Room just as it was about to exit theaters and it blew me away. When this hits theaters, see it immediately, you’re gonna love this.

      I’m a huge Dead Kennedys fan and Nazi Punks is one of my favorite songs by them. And anything by Slayer is always a plus in my book.

      I’ve seen that performance before on Youtube and it’s a killer show. I’m not too big into Venom but both Slayer and Exodus deliver awesome sets. No one talks shit quite like Baloff, I wish he was still alive today.

      • Me too, Baloff is one of my favourite thrash vocalists. I think he had problems with booze though. Chuck Billy is great too.

        I thought you may have seen that video, I watch it all the time. I love the interviews with Slayer… Dave Lombardo was hilarious!

        Nazi Punks is easily my favourite DK song, I remember hearing it for the first time when I was drunk one night. I then went out and was screaming the lyrics to that song, hehe 😀

      • It’s funny, Baloff didn’t have the sharpest voice in the world but his style fits Exodus perfectly. Plus nobody does crazier and funnier stage banter.

        It’s hard for me to pick a best DK song, but Nazi Punks is certainly up there. Jello’s a fantastic writer and his political insight is always sharp. I often have trouble discerning between them and the Misfits as my favorite punk act.

      • I really need to check out more Misfits songs, I don’t know them well at all. Jello is great I agree, he did an album with Melvins (or at least King Buzzo), I gotta dig that out

      • Check out Walk Among Us and Earth A.D/Wolfs Blood. I’m so excited that the Misfits’ classic line-up is reuniting later this year, wish they would do a world tour.

  5. This is really really interesting. I know nothing about metal, but I can appreciate how this film seems to celebrate a small part of music that is widely misunderstood. I liked Green Room, not quite as much as a lot of people have, but I love your perspective on this one. I can definitely see why you love it!

    • Thanks man. The soundtrack is a large reason why I loved Green Room and Saulnier nails the atmosphere of extreme music. Can’t wait to see this movie again.

  6. Just saw this man. And I’m not sure…. I thought the last three qtrs coulda used a lot more hard music to underscore the craziness. If it was used in those heated moments I missed it! Need to watch again asap!

    • I definitely want to watch Green Room again to catch more songs I missed beforehand. I liked that Saulnier didn’t use any music though during the action sequences; for me, doing so really underscored the shocking and spontaneous aspects of the violence.

      • Hmmm yeah that is what I was thinking at first, then the thought occurred to me, what would this be like with the musical theme remaining? Not so much the soundtrack, what you said makes total sense, but I also thought the movie went away from music pretty quickly. I guess that’s my only issue with it, I fuckin’ loved it and will be buying it legally asap, but I was disappointed that it didn’t explore the neo-nazi world of -music- in more detail. But that is just me picking holes really, awesome movie. Thanks internet ;P

  7. […] Green Room […]

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