What is Heavy Metal?
After reading several articles on heavy metal music, starting with Wikipedia of course. My poking around the internet lead me to others who created whole websites like hardradio, nolifetilmetal and metalinjection. Someone from Princeton University even wrote a paper on it. I was amazed at the plethora of information out there from history to psychology to science and math. I was interested in how and why did this kind of music was created. What exactly constitutes heavy metal and what bands made it popular. Do I like any of those bands? Actually there are a lot of them that I know, and have always liked I just did not class them as heavy metal. Maybe hard rock, but not that obnoxious noise. Which is a completely different genre of heavy metal. Who’s playing today and is heavy metal still popular or is it just a dying breed? I found the answers to these questions and more. . . . . .
Heavy metal music was not at first embraced by Americans. Society and the media did not know what to make of the fast pasted electric guitar riffs that were being played. You all know Jimmie Hendrix, some one who definitely thought outside the box, brought this new sound to Woodstock. It was over in the UK that this kind of music was really taking hold. From an article I read called the Cultural Influences of British Heavy Metal, life was particularly hard and heavy metal was played in working mans clubs. It was a more aggressive and serious sound with lyrics expressing the feeling of the time. Black Sabbath was born and spawned the evolution of heavy metal in Britain and then in America. Many other bands also emerged spread across Europe. Political pressure, dissatisfaction with government and the Vietnam War influenced the direction of heavy metal. America’s younger generation was influenced by this music because they could relate to it. The music expressed similar dissatisfaction and unrest in society.
So What exactly constitutes heavy metal? My first thought is really loud music with screaming lyrics, lots of guitars and lots of drums. That does sum it up but there is more to it that. There is electric guitars that use distortion and feedback, heavy riffs and power chords. Drums have heavy fast beats called slam beats and vocals are gritty with everyone amplified. Heavy metal can trace its family tree to blues and psychedelic rock married together with the invention of the electric guitar and amplifier. Musicians experimented with feedback, distortion and studio effects to enhance their music. (This is where science and math comes in). The next challenge was to play as fast as possible with more complex song structures. That is something I can appreciate about heavy metal music.