By the start of the 80’s, the recording business was putting its dollars into new wave and releasing “hits” made by a committee of songwriters. On the odd occasions, a band would come from left field and have a “hit”. It’s hard for people to believe this in 2016, but all of the great Seventies bands had more or less finished up.
Aerosmith was a shadow of itself, Bad Company was on its last legs, Led Zeppelin was no more, The Eagles fractured, Alice Cooper gave in to his nightmares, Kiss was fading and the graveyard list just goes on and on.
And then the revolution slowly started. 1980 gave us “Heaven And Hell” from Black Sabbath, “Iron Maiden” by Iron Maiden, “British Steel” by Judas Priest, “Blizzard Of Ozz” by Ozzy and “Back In Black” by AC/DC. 1981 gave us “Killers” by Iron Maiden, “Point Of Entry” by Judas Priest, “Diary Of A Madman” by Ozzy, “Too Fast For Love” by Motley Crue and “Mob Rules” by Black Sabbath. 1982 gave us “The Number Of The Beast” by Iron Maiden and “Screaming For Vengeance” by Judas Priest.
And then heavy metal came to the masses and wiped all styles off the map. Bands with roots who didn’t care about convention and the establishments. Bands who refined their sounds away from the mainstream without interference from know it all A&R reps. Bands who delivered songs with an honesty and angst that was undeniable.
And overnight the youth switched allegiances. We found new leaders in artists and music. MTV brought those leaders into our TV rooms. We finally had artists speaking some truth. Opportunities were slim and the odds were really stacked against us. We all wanted something to believe in and heavy metal/hard rock became our religion.
And when thrash metal came smashing through the boundaries and lunacy had found me. The words of anger and unrest got turned up even more.
Remember the truth?
That’s why certain artists became so big. Not because they were the best musicians or their records had the best sound. They spoke a truth that resonated.
And we all knew the truth. Our lives being controlled by the establishments, but we didn’t dare say it. So we persisted to live in a fake land. Fake, because, we all swore in reality, but on TV it was beeped out. We saw violence daily, but on the news, the pictures are blurred and classed as distressing. We knew the game was rigged, but we still played in it anyway. Why do you think cable TV become popular. It was a step towards common sense.
So “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” resonated. Same deal with “You Got Another Thing Coming” and “Livin After Midnight” from Judas Priest. “Cum On Feel The Noize” exploded. “Fight For Your Rights” from Beastie Boys was written as a parody to heavy metal music, but it became a hit because of its message. “Shout At The Devil” and “Smokin In The Boys Room” by Motley Crue connected. “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne told us life is not easy. “Seek And Destroy” by Metallica made us want to break stuff or each other.
We needed heroes. We needed leaders. Heavy metal artists spoke for the underclass and the repressed. We felt like we could take over the world and for a brief commercial period, we did just that. Actually, recent research has shown how heavy metal listeners have risen to positions of power in corporations and governments.
But as it the beast got bigger, we started picking sides. Black metal over thrash metal. Death metal over heavy metal. Heavy rock over hard rock. Metallica over Bon Jovi.
And then Grunge came to save us from our distress. Suddenly our leaders had no record deals. Judas Priest fractured by the start of the 90’s. So did Motley Crue. Bon Jovi took a break. Guns N Roses was on its last legs. Black Sabbath tried to roll again with Dio. Ozzy toured under “No More Tours”. And from those ashes, Metallica was there to capitalise. At exactly the right time, they released a sonic behemoth with the “Black” album and it was the lyrics of James Hetfield that people connected with. His anger at his Mum’s beliefs in “The God That Failed”, his anger at his childhood in “The Unforgiven” and heartbreak in “Nothing Else Matters”. Added to that a scorched earth marketing blitz and in 2016, we have the highest selling Soundscan album.