Culture of Heavy Metal
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States. With roots in blues rock and psychedelic rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles are generally associated with masculinity.
Major Genres of Heavy Metal
Heavy metal mainly consists of trash metal, black metal, death metal, power metal and Christian metal.
1. Thrash metal is a subgenre of heavy metal that is characterized usually by its fast tempo and aggression. Songs of the genre typically use fast percussive and low guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style work. Lyrics of thrash metal songs often deal with social issues, often using direct and denunciatory language, an approach which partially overlaps with the hardcore rock. The origins of thrash metal are generally traced to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when a number of bands began incorporating the sound of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, creating a new genre and developing into a separate movement from punk rock and hardcore. This genre is more aggressive compared to its relative, speed metal, and can be seen in part to be a reaction to the lighter, more widely acceptable sounds and themes of glam metal.The “Big Four” bands of thrash metal are Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax who simultaneously created and popularized the genre in the early 1980s.
2. Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, shrieked vocals, highly distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, blast beat drumming, raw recording, and unconventional song structure. During the 1980s, several thrash metal bands formed a prototype for black metal. This so-called “first wave” included bands such as Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. A “second wave” arose in the early 1990s, spearheaded by Norwegian bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Immortal and Emperor. The music of the early Norwegian black metal scene became a distinct genre.
Black metal has often been met with hostility from mainstream culture, mainly due to the misanthropic and anti-Christian standpoint of many artists. Moreover, several of the genres pioneers have been linked with church burnings and murder. For these reasons and others, black metal is usually seen as an underground form of music. Additionally some have been linked to neo-Nazism, however many black metal fans and most prominent black metal musicians reject Nazi ideology and oppose its influence on the black metal subculture.
3. Death metal typically employs heavily distorted guitars, tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, blast beat drumming, minor keys or atonality, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes.
Building from the musical structure of thrash metal and early black metal, death metal emerged during the mid 1980s. Metal acts such as Slayer, Kreator, Celtic Frost, and Venom were very important influences to the crafting of the genre. Possessed and Death, along with bands such as Obituary, Carcass, Deicide and Morbid Angel are often considered pioneers of the genre. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, death metal gained more media attention as popular genre niche record labels like Combat, Earache and Roadrunner began to sign death metal bands at a rapid rate. Since then, death metal has diversified, spawning a variety of subgenres.
4. Power metal scene came together largely in reaction to the harshness of death and black metal during the late 1980s. Despite a relatively underground style in North America, it enjoys wide popularity in Europe, Japan, and South America. Power metal focuses on upbeat, epic melodies and themes that appeal to the listener??™s sense of valor and loveliness. The prototype for the sound was established in the mid-to-late 1980s by Germanys Helloween, which combined the power riffs, melodic approach, and high-pitched.
Many power metal bands such as Floridas Kamelot, Finlands Nightwish, Italys Rhapsody of Fire, and Russias Catharsis feature a keyboard-based “symphonic” sound, sometimes employing orchestras and opera singers. Power metal has built a strong fan base in Japan and South America, where bands like Brazils Angra and Argentinas Rata Blanca are popular.
Closely related to power metal is progressive metal, which adopts the complex compositional approach of bands like Rush and King Crimson. This style emerged in the United States in the early and mid-1980s, with innovators such as Queensryche, Fates Warning, and Dream Theater. The mix of the progressive and power metal sounds is typified by New Jerseys Symphony X, whose guitarist Michael Romeo is among the most recognized of latter-day shredders.
5. Christian metal is a special form of heavy metal music usually defined by its message in a songs lyrics as well as the bands dedication to Christianity. Christian metal is typically performed by professed Christians sometimes principally for Christians who listen to heavy metal music and many times produced and distributed through various Christian networks.
Christian metal bands exist in all the subgenres of heavy metal music. The only common link among most Christian metal bands is the lyrics. The Christian themes are often melded with the subjects of the genre the band is rooted in. It has been argued that the marginal yet transnational Christian metal subculture provides its core members an alternative religious expression and Christian identity, and that the music serves the purpose of offering a positive alternative or counterbalance to secular metal music which is known for its generally dark and negative message.
Christian metal emerged in the late 1970s as a means of evangelism to the wider heavy metal music scene, and was pioneered by the American Resurrection Band and Swedish Jerusalem. Los Angeles Stryper achieved wide success in the 1980s, otherwise the genre was mostly ignored by the mainstream. Californias Tourniquet and Australias Mortification led the movement in the 1990s. The metalcore groups Underoath, Demon Hunter, As I Lay Dying, and Norma Jean brought some mainstream attention to the movement in the first decade of the 21st century, achieving ranks in the Billboard 200.
Image, Fashion and Physical Gesture
As with much popular music, visual imagery plays a large role in heavy metal. In addition to its sound and lyrics, a heavy metal bands image is expressed in album art, logos, stage sets, clothing, and music videos. Some heavy metal acts such as Alice Cooper, Lordi, and Gwar have become known as much for their outrageous performance personas and stage shows as for their music.
Down-the-back long hair, which is the most crucial distinguishing feature of metal fashion originally adopted from the hippie subculture. Long hair gave members of the metal community the power they needed to rebel against everything.
The classic uniform of heavy metal fans consists of blue jeans, black T-shirts, boots and black leather or jeans jackets. T-shirts are generally emblazoned with the logos or other visual representations of favorite metal bands. Many metal performers of the 1970s and 1980s used radically shaped and brightly colored instruments to enhance their stage appearance. Fashion and personal style was especially important for glam metal bands of the era. Performers typically wore long dyed hair; makeup such as lipstick and eyeliner; gaudy clothing, including leopard-skin-printed shirts or vests and tight denim, leather, or spandex pants; and accessories such as headbands and jewelry.
Many metal musicians when performing live engage in head banging, which involves rhythmically beating time with the head, often emphasized by long hair. The corna, or devil horns, hand gesture, also widespread, was popularized by vocalist Ronnie James Dio while with Black Sabbath Although Gene Simmons of Kiss claims to have been the first to make the gesture on the 1977,there is speculation as to who started the phenomenon.
Attendees of metal concerts do not dance in the usual sense. There are two primary body movements that substitute for dancing: head banging and an arm thrust that is both a sign of appreciation and a rhythmic gesture. The performance of air guitar is popular among metal fans both at concerts and listening to records at home. Other concert audience activities include stage diving, crowd surfing, pushing and shoving in a chaotic moshing, and displaying the corna hand symbol.
Smart Students Like It
While a number of heavy metal songs and albums feature violent imagery, profane lyrics and markers for dangerous behavior, scientists did a survey and find gifted students who feel the pressure of their ability could use heavy metal music to get rid of negative emotions. Those students said they did not consider themselves to be metalheads but identified with specific aspects of this culture. They spoke specifically about using heavy metal for catharsis, literally using the loud and often aggressive music to jump out frustrations and anger. Smart students like it because they are more aware of how stressful life is, and luckily there is heavy metal to help them channel those emotions and do something constructive.
2. Heavy Metal Music and Reckless Behavior
3. The Rough Guide to Heavy Metal
4. The Peculiar Case of Christian Metal Music