Ok, so let's tallk Heavy Metal \m/

In the recent artist vs. artist thread, I was ninja’d, and it made me think that while we may have had some threads tangentially related to the idea, I can’t recall any comprehensive thread we’ve had on the genre.

To provide context of what I think of the boundaries of the genre: I can tell you when I think it’s Metal, but I can’t tell you where I think it ends. Stylistically, it’s probably on the other side of Cream, dying out completely probably somewhere on the other side of Arthur Brown, but if you want to present the Doors as the first proto-metal act, I’m not going to say you’re wrong. Hell, tell me The Who is, but tell my why you think they are.

Now, while I can’t tell you where it ends, I can say what I think the most Metal song is (I’ve honestly been asked this, and this is my answer). Premenstrual Princess Blues by S.O.D. (yeah, the lyrics are inaccurate). Metal should be more about action than thought, in my mind. And that song is pretty much all action over thought. MTV hit a rare home run by picking that as the song for Heabangers Ball in its early incarnations. It’s totally hinged on the riff, and doesn’t take itself seriously. I can’t ask more of Metal. The attraction of early Sabbath was the groovy riffs, and that Ozzy was willing to sing about pretty much anything ranging from drug problems to space caravans back then.

On the other end, where Metal takes itself seriously, it tends to spawn things I find abhorrent. I loved Led Zeppelin* when I was a kid, and I can still find a lot to like (despite the legal issues), but Hair Metal lies pretty much directly at their feet. From Def Leppard, Motley Crue’s and Whitesnake’s first records on, nah, Hair metal isn’t my thing (and wow, even those records are pretty silly).

Similar to that, when Metal artists become too fixated on being “respected” musicians, it tends to become tedious. I loved Rush as a young bass player, and can still play a bunch of their songs in a pinch. But a good deal of their complexity seems to be focused on adding complexity for it’s own sake, and songs that I’d otherwise love to play are ruined by figuring out what to do with the insane part that no other band but a tribute band would bother with (“Spirit of Radio”, I’m looking at your reggae bridge).

So, what do you think of Metal? If you just categorically hate it, love it, or am somewhere in between (where I am), tell us why! What band made you hate it? What band made you love it?

*“Listen to those lyrics, man. That song’s about love, and longing… yes, and hobbits. Look, it’s a metaphor!” - Brock Sampson

I enjoy metal, but it is one of the first genres that got less attention as Being a Grown Up™ sucked up more and more of my time.

There’s a fine line between rocking hard and taking yourself too seriously. I am looking for enough fun in my metal to take the too-serious edge off, but in small enough doses that it stays very far away from Silly.

Hard to find these days - it worked better when it was undiscovered territory. Putting on someone else’s leather jacket is never quite as cool as putting on your own :wink: But shame on me for not looking - I am sure there is plenty of great stuff out there, per various threads I see here from time to time.

To me, metal was Zep and Black Sabbath and a bit of Deep Purple, back in the day, but the various branches that thrive today are solidly from Black Sabbath, with Purple bringing the technique focus and Zep being considered more hard rock than metal these days.

Well, I’m not sure there’s actually a serious/silly axis in metal. They’re probably described best by something more complex, like a helix. :slight_smile: Sometimes the most self-important stuff comes across as the silliest, and the silly stuff seems to be pretty good in retrospect. To take the S.O.D. song above, I’m pretty sure they wrote it as a joke, but it ends up being a pretty good slice of life song about dealing with persons like that. I can take it seriously in a way that I can’t take any Danzig song seriously. With that in mind, there’s a self-reflective quality that Metal kind of has to have to be good in my mind. It kind of has to acknowledge its own over-the-topness, and then it has to somehow blow by that marker and leave it behind. To stop and stare at it tends to lead to generic Metal.

Yeah, the “Zep isn’t Metal” thing is a bit of historical revisionism that’s cropped up which confuses me. I find listening to one of their records very different from listening to say, Rick Derringer or ZZ Top. They stray pretty far from blues-rock. Even when they’re covering an old blues song, it doesn’t always come across as a blues song. Nobody’s Fault but Mine doesn’t have a lot to do with original other than the sailing intro, but even that’s been changed substantially into a pounding part that’s pretty metal to my ear. The harmonica solo is as metal as anything Ozzy did with Sabbath.

You can lay pretty much all of Hair Metal at Zeppelin’s feet, but denying that a good deal of their catalog is metal isn’t really going to get very far with me without some very convincing reasoning.

I mean, Slayer may have launched a thousand emulators that I’d rather not listen to, but sweet mother of heaven, they truly destroy. Just because I’m not particularly fond of all of their artistic children, I don’t get to categorize them as non-metal.

I don’t know. Mayhem to Poison, maybe?

Mayhem’s early ditties include “Chainsaw Gutsfuck” and “Necrolust”. Not too sure that belongs on the “serious” axis.

(still miles ahead of anything Poison recorded)

Mayhem was silly in 1988, serious in 1993.* These days they’re… Grown-ups.

I’m heavily into black metal and its off-shoots. Supershort scene rapport: In 2015, the genre is alive and well, with lots and lots of excellent new releases by new and new-ish bands. Great time to be a metalhead.

*) Dead replaced Maniac, Hellhammer replaced Manheim, and Euronymous - well, Euronymous changed, man, he changed.

The boundary between hard rock and heavy metal isn’t a precise one, the boundaries between the various subgenres even less so. Like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Guns n’ Roses, Blue Oyster Cult and a few others, I’ve noticed led Zeppelin described as both hard rock and heavy metal by various sources. I can’t say I’ve noticed an increased tendency to call them hard rock these days.

I’m still waiting for an apology for that.

Like you, I’m also heavily into black (and death and similar) and I know exactly what you mean, but good luck convincing someone with a passing interest that the spiky black clad and corpse-painted crowd are “serious!”*
*What’s the definition of serious in this context, anyway? Singing about something other than unskinny bopping?

Some of my favorite metal is made by bands that don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s supposed be fun, after all.

Alestorm, a Scottish “pirate metal” band, is a lot of fun:


You Are a Pirate


And I’ve always loved this video from White Wizzard:

Over the Top

(Though WW apparently doesn’t exist any more, due to the bassist/founder’s douchebaggery. Their record label dumped them after they went through six singers in less than a year, and the rest of the band walked out due to some other douchebaggery.) Hmm. And my spellchecker doesn’t appear to have any problem with the word "douchebaggery. Odd.

Then there’s the fact that “metal” is an attitude, not just a style of music. You don’t even need guitars. Here’s a metal a capella group (well, they employ a real drummer instead of a beatbox, but are otherwise a capella) called Van Canto, covering a Manowar song, and it is, IMO, even heavier than the original:
Kings of Metal

Covering Metallica:

Master of Puppets

And just to prove that there is now such a thing as “nerd metal”, here’s Van Canto, with orchestral backing (still no guitars), performing an original song … based on an MMORPG:

Magic Taborea

Hehe, you’re right about that!

I meant “serious” in that by 1993, Euronymous talked about black metal as, ideally, a religious cult rather than yet another goofy ol’ youth subculture.

I’d say the epitome of Mayhem’s “seriousness” was the title track of De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas, with the religious, ritual atmosphere, the pig Latin and the faux-Gregorian chanting. Hell, the song was so influential that it spawned an entire new sub-genre of black metal, “orthodox black metal,” which took the religious, theistic themes even further. The bands were mostly Swedish, and IMHO often brilliant: Ofermod, Ondskapt and Funeral Mist all belong, to my mind, to the black metal pantheon.

The 26 Genres of Metal. :slight_smile:

Did Headbanger’s Ball have more than one S.O.D. song for the intros? This intro song is the one I’m familiar with. It is Milano Mosh by S.O.D. I also remember a good intro with Pantera.

I’ve gotten back into metal in my middle age, gone back and discovered some of the bands I missed in the 80’s, such as S.O.D., Mercyful Fate, Slayer, and Diamond Head.

Also, even though I’m not a stoner, I love stoner metal inspired by Black Sabbath like Electric Wizard and Sleep. Electric Wizard has to be one of the heaviest bands ever, not in sheer aggression but just in the low down and dirty steal your soul and banish it to hell bass lines.

I’ve also discovered early 70’s proto-stoner metal bands Iron Claw and Wicked Lady, both well worth a listen.

Hell even 70’s Aerosmith rocks, I was too young to appreciate them at the time. You can really hear where a lot of 80’s metal came from in Aerosmith’s 70’s music.

Metal was my music of choice in high school (early eighties). Judas Priest, Maiden, Sabbath, etc. I saw most of the big names, some multiple times (lost track of how many times I saw Priest and Maiden).

I still listen to it sometimes but it long ago was replaced by punk/post punk/alternative as my main musical interest. And in all seriousness, after This is Spinal Tap I was unable to ever take it seriously again.

Does anyone else see a similarity between the beginnings of “Iron Man” and Zappa’s “Who Are The Brain Police?”? The song structure seems very Sabbath like to me. When I was younger, I thought Zeppkin was metal because I was told it was. I son’t hear it that way anymore.

One thing I’ve wondered about the black metal bands who are heavy into the Satanic imagery is whether they take it seriously or not. I don’t believe in a being called Satan, so it doesn’t really bug me. If there’s a God, I don’t really think he/she would see a bunch of guys with lots of tattoos who can play extremely fast as much of a threat. The big guy might respect their musicianship, though.

I like some metal - 80’s hair metal in particular (sue me). To me, Guns-N-Roses Appetite for Destruction is the ultimate heavy metal album. I love all the songs on it such as Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City and Sweet Child O’ Mine but also some of the lesser known ones like My Michelle and Night Train. I love Def Leopard’s Hysteria album as well but that is right on the border of what I consider to be heavy metal versus hard rock and I have never quite decided which one it is.

Some genres of metal quickly become to fast, chaotic, unpolished and dark for me to listen to however. Metallica is about my personal limit. I love Enter Sandman and One but some of their earlier stuff is too much for me. The more extreme forms of heavy metal like death metal and anything that has cookie monster style singing is right out. I have no idea how some people can listen to that shit at all let alone enjoy it. I need my heavy metal to have some recognizable song structure and decent vocals.

I consider the term Heavy Metal to be long since obsolete anymore. To me it’s too specific, it just means hard rock bands that always dress in leather & chains & studs, and has little to do with their actual musical style. Consequently I don’t consider Led Zeppelin, Guns n’ Roses, Def Leppard or even freakin’ Metallica to be Heavy Metal, but merely hard rock. And it’s rather ironic that Judas Priest kind of started the leather & studs metal thing, just because Rob Halford was secretly gay*!*

I disagree strongly. I fail to see how anyone can say that Metallica isn’t ‘heavy metal’. It is implied right there in the name and meets all the criteria as did Black Sabbath. Not all of the Gun-N-Roses catalog was heavy metal but Appetite for Destruction certainly was. I am on the fence when it come to Def Leopard and Led Zeppelin but that doesn’t mean that heavy metal didn’t or doesn’t exist. Dress has little to do with it. I can listen to an MP3 of clearly heavy metal bands that I have never heard of and identify them by sound alone although there are edge cases.

Hard rock is an entirely different category that encompasses bands like Van Halen, most Aerosmith songs and even the Rolling Stones. Heavy Metal has broken down into many (mostly unlistenable) sub-genres over the years but that doesn’t mean that the base form never existed.

Growing up. I followed my family’s lead and listened to mostly pop/Top 40 music. Until Faith No More’s The Real Thing blew my 13 year old mind. “Epic,” “Surprise, You’re Dead,” “Zombie Eaters,” and a killer cover of “War Pigs.” That lead me to Sabbath which lead me to Metallica. They are in fact the reason I started playing guitar. I spent years trying to learn how to riff at warp speed like James Hetfield, but alas, it just wasn’t to be :frowning:

But I never got much deeper than that. I played in a band with a guy who tried to get me deeper into the scene, introducing me to bands like Kreator and Cathedral. But it just never really appealed to me the way Sabbath and Metallica do.

As for Appetite for Destruction, I agree that it is one of the greatest albums ever, I just don’t see it as a metal album. And while I can see how they could have inspired nascent metallers of the time to rock harder and play louder, I don’t see Zeppelin as a metal band either.

Yeah, this is where the “metal” definition gets fuzzy. In my neighborhood growing up, GnR wasn’t really considered “metal.” But I think that was more (at the time) a division between the True Scotsman Metalheads who listened to Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and the like, and then all the “poseur” metal out there, which included hair metal and bands like GnR. That said, to this day, I can’t really think of GnR as “metal.”

As for Led Zeppelin, I was born in '75, and I have a vague recollection of Zeppelin being classified as “metal” at some point before I really knew their work, but by the time I was a teenager and listening to them, they weren’t really thought of as “metal,” either. They were just blues-based classic rock.

Depends on what ones means by “heavy metal”. It’s used as an umbrella term that includes all the subgenres such as black metal, death metal and countless others. In this sense Metallica is heavy metal.

“Heavy metal” can also refer to the original metal sound such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and latter day copycats such as Hammerfall. In this meaning of the term Metallica is not heavy metal, but either thrash metal (1980s) or hard rock (Black album onwards).

IME, “metal” is used as an umbrella term, while “heavy metal” refers specifically to Black Sabbath and company.

I agree with **Just One Monkey **that Appetite for Destruction is one of the greatest albums ever, just not metal.

Def Leppard were arguably only metal for one or two albums.