Steppenwolf was seen as an Heavy Metal act once upon a time. Black Sabbath was more extreme. Led Zeppelin was never heavy metal, however when the 80’s MTV metal wave came, most of the acts referenced Led Zeppelin as an influence and suddenly, the Zep is metal.
Regardless, it doesn’t matter how many times the labels and the media outlets tried to kill it, mainstream it or commercialize it, Heavy Metal has remained consistent from when it began. Whenever pop music became pretentious, heavy metal was the alternative. Well at least it was it my truth.
But something changed in the late 80’s. Metal music was in the Top 10 of the Billboard charts and suddenly Hip Hop was proving to be the alternative, talking about social issues. But metal kept evolving, become even more extreme, the antihero to the mainstream hero.
When heavy metal and hard rock dropped off the mainstream, it was never gone for long. Grunge ruled the airwaves, until Industrial Metal became a thing, with NIN and Ministry. Then Nu-Metal became a thing. The lifestyle and attitude of Metal is the answer to all things corrupt. It is the soundtrack.
Typically most metal fans come from working-class homes or changed family dynamics. The mainstream always ignored metal music, seeing it as too dumb. Of course, when a band breaks through, the mainstream are the first to jump on the wagon.
And metal music is known as so many different things.
There is Classic Metal/Rock, Thrash/Groove Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore, Black Metal, Death Metal, Heavy Metal, Alternative Metal/Rock, Progressive Metal/Rock, Math Rock/Metal, Shock Metal/Rock, Symphonic Metal/Rock, Power Metal, Folk Metal and Stoner/Sludge Metal.
Seriously do we need that many categories.
Music is music. You either like it or not.
And the term heavy metal has become synonymous with a lifestyle more than anything, of being free, having a voice, questioning everything, living within a community spirit and living the way you want to live and not the way others want you to live.
Of course elitists will always have their own truths, but hey we don’t serve them.
And in the words of Rob Halford.
When the power chords come crashing down, they go tearing through my senses. It’s for the strong, not for the weak, in a light and dark dimension.
It stimulates and regenerates, it’s therapeutic healing. It lifts our feet up off the ground and blasts us through the ceiling.
Heavy metal, what do you want?
6 thoughts on “Heavy Metal”
Nice and comprehensive summary. You described the whole genre, culture and subcultures and theory in a single post. Back in the day (early 90s) I wrote similar essay on heavy metal based on D. Weinstein’s research “Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology”, which takes 330 pages.
The essay was one of the last stages of my studies in sociology and the students were allowed to select whatever topic. Erm… heavy metal, it’s absolutely impossible my professor would know this area. Consider it a safe bet.
Finished the paper and submitted it for evaluation. Face-to-face feedback was part of the process. I booked an appointment and went to hear what the professor thinks about the topic. He glanced the source (see below link) and especially cover photo, and mumbled “Interesting… all kinds of things to be studied. This is sociology as well?” Passed.
And look who is on the cover of the book (well, who else).
Thanks for reading Henrik. So cool to be able to select your own topic. I always used Maiden as a reference for essays.
I can’t make out who is on the cover. Which band is it? My initial impression was Venom. Lol.
I agree with you, Pete. Music is music!
I’ve been a metal head since 1984 and when I am old and grey I will still be a metal head.
Because it’s a lifestyle.
Yes it is!