Metal:Then and Now

How did metal get from this: Nazareth 70's metal band

To this: Poison 80's hair metal band
Then finally to this: Five Finger Death Punch -Modern day douche bags in a band. DEATH TO FALSE METAL! Your guess is as good as mine.

(Sorry any FiveFingerAlign CenterDeathPunch fans who read my blog)

First off, I just want to thank everyone who is old and new to the blog, who posted their opinions of which I have yet to respond. I value it all-be it praise or critique. I'm glad that people feel comfortable enough to really say what they mean to say and not feel awkward or tense about it. Keep it up-yes that even goes to the Lord Toph fans (*read earlier post) I love interesting conversations even if we both don't necessarily agree. But really, thanks for coming back and checking up to see if I'm still there and for being very patient. Now back to the main topic:

I think having an understanding of how modern metal has come to be formed is important for any metal head. Quite honestly I still am not really sure how it has all come to be. I call myself a metal head yet when faced with this post I found myself doing research and realized that I really don't know shit about it. Or perhaps, rather, that I had only skimmed the surface of a genre that has alot of depth. Far more than a self proclaimed music geek like myself even thought there was.

Recently, I have been into alot of music history and such and I had always wondered how and why the metal that I've become so familiar with (from radio friendly to underground) came to have that certain modern sound I just can't quite place but know by ear. Or even if a metal purest could even consider the hair/glam metal bands of the 80's pure 'metal'. What really is the heavy metal sound? Or what makes a song classified into heavy metal? Drop D tuning? Heavy fast drum work? Or gut wrenching vocals?

If you look at when heavy metal was in its first pure form-its alot different than what we would even consider metal today. I was browsing Youtube the other day and had an argument in the comments section (I know, pathetic) with some being who thought that a song was only metal if there was screaming in it. Of course, my nerdrage kicked in and I argued about various classic bands being metal w/ out the whole pig squeal, growling, etc vocals. And alot of people agreed with the plebeian. So I had to ask them if they thought Black Sabbath wasn't metal to which they responded 'Whats Black Sabbath'? That's when I realized I was dealing with children and logged off. I mean, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple didn't scream-and they are famous metal bands. Had they come out today? They would be considered at most, hard rock.

Lets fast forward to the 80's. Hair metal has arrived. But what I find very interesting is that also during this time, the first wave of black metal arrived that progressed from thrash metal. So at this time bands like Celtic Frost, Venom, Mercyful Fate, and Bathory came to play. Which is probably a result of wanting to be apart from the commercial metal that was emerging in America with the bands like Poison, Stryper, Ratt, etc. This sort of L.A brand of dare I say, pop metal? It's just amusing to me that Europe was like 'Fuck that' and went all black metal. (Not to say there aren't European hair bands. *coughDefLeppard*)

Let me make a point that during all this time, Underground metal (thrash, speed, death, power, doom, etc) is alive and kicking. I suppose I should now go into the awkward 90's fusion metal brand that emerged where it all just sort of got scrambled into many things. Metal fused with rap. Metal fused with rock and punk. Cross over thrash. Metalcore. Prog.You name it. That "nu-metal" sound.

And now? There is so many metal sub genres that it starts to hurt my brain when I think about it. I still don't even feel like I have a definitive grasp on metal as a whole. I wanted to go into more of how it came to be with the history of what was going on around the time but that is another post. This is just the skim of the milk. I can say that it has definitely evolved musically into many things. So much that if you don't like a certain type then maybe you could like another. That is what is great about metal. There could be an audience for anyone and everyone.

So I have to ask:what is metal to you? Or even, what does it do for you? Perhaps then we can fully grasp how and why it became what it is today.


thatcrazyolgoth said…
It seriously hurts when I talk to younger 'metal fans' (I'm, not a member of the old guard, however being 20, I'm certainly old enough to appreciate all of the older metal bands) who don't consider Iron Maiden and their ilk to be metal. They think that metalcore etc just has 80s hardcore to thank, but they don't realise, Maiden practically started out as a punk band. To me a band has to have a certain guitar tone to be metal, the vocals or any other instrument can be as soft as you like, if it has that certain guitar tone, its metal. The same group of people also annoy me when they make me listen to the latest 'core band and tell me how 'brootal' it is, and yet when I get them to listen to a song such as The Prize Of Beauty by My Dying Bride, they cant see the heaviness in it because its not being played at a billion beats a minute.

Its a scary thing to say but I think todays younger generation of metal fans are just looking for a greater number of blast beats and looking cool.

Just my two cents.
Anonymous said…
Luke sez:

A better example may have been Nevermore, Black Sabbath could be called hard rock by today's standards, but Nevermore is a modern band that doesn't scream, and it's clear to anyone that they are indeed metal.
As far as the difference between Hard Rock and heavy metal, I look at it as being like evolution, and early metal is like the missing link, an intermediate form, but then metal speciated into it's own fully fledged genre, instead of just being a sub genre of rock.

Anyway don't over think it, just dig what you're into and don't worry so much about what's what, genre classifications only exist so that you can easily talk about bands and get an idea of what they sound like, it's just a guide for finding music that you like.
Raven Garcia said…
Hi, just wanna say that I love your blog! You write really well and from a unique standpoint too. I've never worked out why there are so few black people (let alone girls) into the heavy metal scene.

@ Thatcrazyolgoth: I totally agree. I've gotten a bit out of touch with the more recent bands on the scene. I'm only 25 but was raised on Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple thanks to my uncle. My 17y.o. cousin had the same treatment but whenever he comes to stay he's always getting me to listen to his latest favourite band and you're right, it all seems to be about how fast, or 'brutal' sounding it is. Metal doesn't need to be either of those things.
DareDevil said…
What is Heavy Metal?
If you ask me then the song "Heavy Metal" by Judas Priest says it best:

When the power chords come crashing down
Go tearing through my senses
It's for the strong, not for the weak
In light and dark dimensions

It stimulates, regenerates
It's therapeutic healing
It lifts our feet up off the ground
and blasts us through the ceiling

Anonymous said…
Luke sez:

Responding to Raven Garcia> could your cousin be listening to deathcore by any chance? Because those deathcore kids seem to think that they've found the holy grail of heaviness, when in reality I haven't heard metal get any heavier in the last 10 or 15 years, I just find it so ironic that they're just now trying to win at the "who's the heaviest" game when it was already played and lost so long ago, I mean who really tries to "out heavy" each other anymore? kids today really are clueless.
Kraas said…
"Who's Black Sabbath?" I literally laughed out loud at this.

I just found your blog and I'm looking forward to reading it all! Here's hoping you get back soon.
@thatcrazyoldgoth:I so agree, lol. When did metal become this freaking 'I'm more brOOtal than u' fest-all this measured by blast beats, screaming, and arduous guitar riffs.
I think people are forgetting how simple metal started out and it sounded great back then.
@luke-Hmmm, an evolution. Damn, why hadn't I thought of that.Good post.
@Raven Garcia-Welcome to the blog
! Ands thank you so much. Its always nice to hear good feedback.
@Krass-Welcome as well! I aim to be both amusing and informative. ^_^
Anonymous said…
hmm.... dunno if I'd agree that Iron Maiden practically started out as a punk band. Maiden is definitely metal, and I would say they are a quintessential definition of it. I agree with Sabbath, I wouldn't actually group Zeppelin or Deep Purple as metal, just as I wouldn't consider Hendrix to be metal. As a child of the 70s, I remember that these weren't classified as metal by any metalheads that I knew (though they were still on every metalheads playlist). Same in the 80s - Poison, Ratt and the Glam-bands were definitely not considered metal by any of my metalhead friends. Maiden, Priest, Motorhead, Dio, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax were. ac/dc, GnR, Skid Row were hard rock, but not metal. Into the 90s, Metallica and Limp Bizkit joined up on the Spawn movie soundtrack and basically brought the nu-metal concept crashing into mainstream as it got forcefed through the radio. But stuff like Napalm Death and GWAR were taking metal into heavier territory. These are just my opinions, but having lived through these eras as a metalhead, these are my vivid memories of attitudes towards metal (and classification of bands) from those times. Also - screaming does not define metal ... it is merely something that may be present in some forms of metal. From my limited knowledge of music history, rock has it's roots in blues, whereas metal shares roots between both blues and classical - and I think you can tell the difference in composition of songs between the two genres. Cheers.
Kelly said…
@ Anonymous: Limp Bizkit wasn't on the Spawn soundtrack. I know because I bought it right after I saw the movie in the theater . . . geez, I'm getting old. Korn was, but at least Korn qualifies as metal.

On the subject of heaviness, metal got as heavy as it ever has been in the year 2000, with Electric Wizard's Dopethrone. It got as brutal as it ever has been almost 10 years earlier than that, when Suffocation hit the scene.

I hate almost all deathcore, but I would never criticize some kid for listening to it. I also wrote about true metal and false metal and my own thoughts on the issue.
Adrian said…
Quick comment and question for you.
I really enjoyed your comments and if you haven't already watch the documentary "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" that does a pretty good job of summarizing metal's history. It also explores the stigma associated with metal in general.
My question is what do you have against Five Finger Death Punch?
I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I'm just curious because I listen to a great variety of metal and all music in general and I they are one of my favorite bands of all time.
Thanks and keep writing you have a very interesting blog
@Adrian-First, Welcome to the blog!I watched a tad of Metal: A Headbangers Journey. I want to watch the whole thing I just haven't gotten around to it but thank you for letting me know about it. I'm sure they probably have it in parts on youtube, right?
Ah, Five Finger Death Punch. I actually saw them live (my boyfriend likes them) and lets just say I didn't have a good time. However, I will admit that I have not given them a fair chance so if there is a song you think is really awesome that I should hear that will change my opinion of them-hit me up. Thank you for leaving a comment.
Adrian said…
Actually they play "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" a good amount on the TV channel Fuse. I'd look for it there if you get that channel.

Ummm I'm not sure I can name a song that would instantly change your opinion of them. I will tell you what I believe are some of their best songs by type, hardcore, mid-range, and softer songs.

Hardcore - "White Knuckles"
Mid-range - "The Bleeding"
Soft/Ballad-like - "Far from Home"
KalinWalhalla said…
I liked the post and your blog on the answer your question; for me metal is more than music or art it is something i simply cannot do without...i listen to songs like:Fighting the world from Manowar when i need to find some inspiration...I listen to songs like Angel of Death from Slayer when i'm angry etc...every mood i have can be molded to a metal song and that's why i love's there for me no matter can't get that from pop or hip-hop...and i hate it when kids(i'm 18 myself and by kids i mean 13-14 year olds)think they are metal just because they have long hair and black shirts...i was once accused by a 13 year old that i wasn't metal because i didn't have long hair(my hair is very very short like phil anselmo from pantera used to have) and because i wore a grey shirt instead of black...then i asked him: isn't kerry kind metal?even though he is bald?...and then the classic: who is kerry king?...i told him he was the guitarist from Slayer...What's slayer? i listen to korn and in flames, these are true metal bands...i facepalmed and walked away laughing...these are the future ,,metalheads'' unfortunately:(
Heavy_Metal_Fundamentals said…
There is a line between what is heavy metal, and what is not. When you go to the extremes on either side, you can easily proclaim yay or nay. But that only leaves one headache-causing question...Just where exactly is the line? I feel that anything that is heavy metal should have an element of darkness and actual heaviness to it. As a result-from a heavy metal mentality-I feel offended when glam bands are regarded as heavy metal. When I hear Poison's "Nothing But a Good Time," I wonder who decided that THIS was heavy metal? At what point in the song does heaviness come into play? When I hear Bon Jovi sing "Runaway," I wonder the same thing. Don't get me wrong, they're fine rock n' roll songs...but I just can't understand how they could be categorized as heavy metal. Aside from the actual sound, let's take a look at the appearance of glam. You see a bunch of guys "beautifying" themselves with eye shadow and lip gloss. Again, I ask...Who decided this was heavy metal? Who decreeed that guys wearing girly make-up and wearing lace was hardcore? I think the line is drawn when you go from banging your head to bobbing your head. If it's not harsh enough to bang your head to, it's not metal. But hey, I digress. These are only my opinions...not facts. I just still have yet to hear a valid explanation as to how such glam bands are heavy metal.

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