A Brief History of Heavy Metal... Part 5

We've come a looooong way from metal's beginnings. We have no doubt that when Tony Iommi sliced off his fingertips and created the sound of heavy metal, that he or anyone else would have ever thought metal would still be alive and kicking. Out of all the genre's of music (and there are many), one could argue that heavy metal is a relative baby to the music scene - things like jazz, blues, country and pop being around decades before. However, one thing that cannot be denied about metal, when compared to these other genres, is how adaptive and powerful it is, always managing to change with the times, stay relevant, and modern. It is one of the few genre's with SO many sub genre's (and then sub genre's within sub genre's!), that allows a style for everyone who wants something heavy, whether that be blast beats and guttural vocals, keyboards and operatic vocals, or anything in between! Also, unlike some other genre's, the passion among metal fans and the musicians for the music is unmatched, and with each other! As an example of this, we attended a Disturbed concert a couple of years ago, and there was a young man in the crowd in a wheelchair. David Draiman saw this, got the crowd to crowd surf the guy over the barrier, then brought him on stage for the end of the show! He also addressed the crowd "this is what I love about metal fans, you guys take care of each other! This would never happen at a Britney Spears concert - F*CK POP!". He's not wrong either - while fickle pop fans change with the times and music, metal fans are true to their genre and will defend it till the end!

One thing we haven't covered, so will go over briefly here, is how metal is such a diverse genre, that not only has bands that thing with purpose and meaning, but it also has its own "comedy" or bands that like to mess the public, and make you question if they are serious or not?! We'll talk about a few - for example GWAR. Well known for their crazy onstage shows that involve beheadings, sacrifices, and many "liquids" sprayed into the crowd! They also wear monster costumes, have names like "Jizmak the Gusher", and even have a whole backstory, explaining how they are aliens who crash landed in Antarctica to take over earth. With songs like "F*cking an Animal", "Pre School Prostitute", "Saddam A Go Go" and many more, you can see how they not only court controversy but also "take the piss" out of modern music. Another band that you can't quite tell if they are real, or if they are joking, is Steel Panther. Formed in the new Millennium, they began to make a name on the sunset strip of LA, before changing their name and releasing their debut album. Well known for their exaggerated on stage personas, heavily influenced by the glam metal movement, and with names to match (such as Lexxi Foxx), Steel Panther have made a name of themselves for other reasons. These include songs such as "Gloryhole", "Death to all but Metal", "Gold Digging Whore" and "Gangbang at the Old Folks Home" - all of which caused outrage and controversy from various outlets. Still, there is no denying the success of the band, and musicianship wise, they are just as good as any "serious" metal band.

We also want to cover another couple of metal bands which could be considered "silly" or not as metal as say bands like Cannibal Corpse, but are just as popular. One of these is Alestorm, hailing from the cold north of Scotland. Originally a power metal band, the success of one of their early singles "Heavy Metal Pirates" caused the band to change their style, incorporating folk elements and pirate lyrics - being dubbed "pirate metal". Their debut album "Captain Morgan's Revenge" (the name a reference to the rum), included songs such as "Wenches and Mead", "Terror on the High Seas" and "Death before the Mast". Later albums would keep with the pirate theme, and their stage shows are known for giant inflatable ducks, along with blow up cutlasses and pirate hats a plenty! They do have a unique niche in the metal genre, with very few bands being able to say they are "pirate metal". Switching it up back to power metal, Manowar are legends in the category - being formed all the way back in 1980! Although they never made a huge commercial success in their home of the US, they are very popular worldwide (especially in England), and still have a cult following in the US. With lyrics based around fantasy (sword and sorcery in particular) and mythology (Norse and Greco-Roman primarily), and wearing costumes such as loincloths and leather, Manowar have sometimes not always been taken seriously. Nonetheless, they hold some great accolades - in 1984 they made the Guiness Book of Records for the loudest performance - and since then they have broken twice! They are also seen as the precursor to "Viking Metal" and bands who use this imagery (such as Amon Amarth).

We didn't mean to go off on such a tangent, but we wouldn't be giving you the best value if we didn't cover everything! We have no doubt or faith that metal will still be going strong in years to come, especially considering where it came from. No matter what rears its head to try and push metal down - be it disco, grunge or pop, metal will always fight back! It has evolved, changed and moved with the times, as mentioned earlier its not just sub genre's that metal has, it's also the sub genre's within it! As an example, lets look at power metal (the main sub genre). Under this you would include things like symphonic metal, viking metal, pirate metal and folk metal. You can even go further into these sub genre's with further sub genre's, but we could be here for a long time if we go down that rabbit hole! People have often said that metal will never last, that it will die, and that it will never be accepted. Metal has been proving people wrong since it started way back in the day, and will keep fighting moving into the future. There are new metal bands forming each day, and even the ones of the old guard (such as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest), are still touring and not only getting old fans along but also showing the younger generation what good music can be! We are confident in the future of metal, and see it evolving as it always does, bringing on new fans and keeping the old guard strong!

We hope you've enjoyed this very brief dip into the world of metal, and that we have been able to give you some new facts and info with regards to metal and the bands that make it so great! Keep an eye out on our blogs for more to come, and if you have ideas for topics we could cover, let us know with an e mail! Until then, keep it loud and rock on!

© 2019 Merchant of Rock

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