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Heavy Metal If you were looking for the music genre supertrope, go here: Heavy Metal One of the most frequently misunderstood genres of popular music, heavy metal traces its origins back to the late 1960s, as the hippie movement began to burn out and hard/acid rock bands began to proliferate, bringing with them a new, hard-edged style of guitar playing. For instance, many consider The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" the first heavy metal song while the electric guitar legend, Jimi Hendrix, is credited as a major inspiration with the story that a supposed music magazine article described his music as "like bars of metal raining down on the stage." Other starters include Blue Cheer in 1968 and a very little known band called 'Bitter Creek', who played a very interestingly speed/sludge metal-esque song, 'Plastic Thunder' all the way back in 1967. The genre was officially given life when an obscure little English band known as Black Sabbath fused this sound with raunchy, aggressive blues and jazz routines on their 1970 self-titled album. The band's morbid Crapsack World imagery and Tony Iommi's signature aggressive guitar riffs became wildly popular with young people on both sides of the Atlantic, much to the consternation of their parents and the newly un-hip '60s "flower generation". Despite the controversy (which would persist and mutate into different forms as heavy metal itself evolved), Black Sabbath enjoyed brisk album sales and a sizable fanbase. If Black Sabbath was the Trope Maker of heavy metal, Judas Priest and Deep Purple were certainly the Trope Codifiers. They provided a faster, smarter variation on Black Sabbath's crushing riffwork, mixing razor sharp riffs, agile leads, and the earliest examples of the dramatic, high-pitched vocals and searing "Metal Scream" that would become almost synonymous with metal in the mid-to-late 1980s. Fast-paced burners like "Highway Star", "Tyrant", and "Exciter" stripped away Black Sabbath's blues baggage, providing a sound that was nothing short of revolutionary. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too revolutionary for the conservative '70s rock scene and heavy metal enjoyed limited mainstream success at this time. But nevertheless, by combining its prowess with the then huge popular punk scene, heavy metal grew. The source of the name "heavy metal" is, like most things to do with metal, hotly debated. Those who prefer a more "high culture" or "respectable" inspiration point to characters called "the Heavy Metal Kid" and "Heavy Metal People" in works by William S Burroughs. Lowerbrow types often point to the line "heavy metal thunder" as a metaphor for the sound of motorbike engines in the proto-metal hit "Born To Be Wild" by Steppenwolf. More generally, the word "heavy" had been used for a long time among hippies to mean "serious" or "depressing", and some people point as well to the group of often-toxic chemical elements known as "heavy metals" in chemistry. Various critical magazines also use the term as early as the late '60s, and Black Sabbath wasn't even referred to as a heavy metal band- they were considered Progressive Rock! When it was first used and when it gained mainstream use is debated, but few deny that it was a well-established term in music by at least 1972, when it referred to or was used interchangeably with 'heavy rock.' Heavy metal largely fell under the radar in the late 1970s as Black Sabbath began to fall apart at the seams and the new sensation of punk music, providing much of the aggression of heavy metal in a rawer, stripped-down package to appeal to a music-buying public sick of the theatrics of Progressive Rock. However, the success of British punk bands was providing fresh inspiration to a new generation of metal musicians, who blended the gritty, street-smart anger of punk with the drama and bombast of heavy metal. In late 1979, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) exploded onto the British music scene, bringing with it new bands like Motörhead and Iron Maiden that were faster than Priest, louder than Sabbath, and angrier than The Sex Pistols. The collapse of the original punk scene brought even more wind into heavy metal's sails and metal bands began springing up, not only in the UK, but all over America and Europe, and as the genre's success grew, three very different movements were coalescing within a once more-or-less unified genre. The first movement came from when punk rock's own offspring, the nastier, noisier, more aggressive "hardcore punk", trickled down into a metal scene already amped-up on punk rock rage. Many within the metal scene decided to beat them at their own game and turn it Up to Eleven. British band Venom's 1981 album Welcome to Hell was perhaps the first prominent fruit of the budding extreme metal subculture. Blisteringly fast, stupendously aggressive, and unabashedly offensive with its lurid Satanic imagery and violent themes, Welcome to Hell was perhaps the most aggressive album ever published at the time, and became a lightning rod for controversy from people who claimed that it was subversive, Satanic, and encouraged all manner of social ills. This, of course, only made it more popular with rebellious youth. European "Speed Metal" bands began to one-up each other in aggression, creating a massive metal arms race of chainsaw guitar riffs, frenetic drumming, and new vocal styles that mutated the high-pitched wail that had now become the definitive metal voice into nearly incomprehensible shrieking and gibbering. These early extreme metal albums were raw, uncompromising, and hostile, attracting a small but loyal following of hardcore fans, but were too unpolished and off-putting to crack the larger music world. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in southern California, a clique of like-minded musicians were working on a curious fusion of socially conscious street punk and the more melodic, intellectual strains of NWOBHM as a second wave of social upheaval began to sweep America in the first half of The Eighties. The seeds of what would become thrash metal were being sown with provocative, often sarcastic lyrics, a rigid, driving sense of rhythm, and extensive use of palm-muting, which was used to create long, choppy, often highly intricate staccato passages with a crunching, almost mechanical sound. This new sound had much of the aggression of European extreme metal (which was still several years away from achieving significant recognition in the US) but a much higher standard of musicianship and a more social, political bent (which would become Flanderized in the later 80s into what some called "CNN thrash"). Metallica were the first thrashers out of the gates with their 1983 debut Kill 'em All. The distinctive guitar styles of James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine (who, although already departed from the band, arguably had far more impact on Metallica's early style than his replacement Kirk Hammett) and tougher, more masculine imagery of the band themselves were a hit, and they were quickly joined on the scene by not just other thrash founders like Exodus, but dozens of followers like Megadeth (masterminded by an enraged Dave Mustaine trying to one-up Metallica), Testament, Slayer, and others. The thrash movement spread across the America but truly found second homes in New York, where Anthrax and Overkill infused an extra dose of punk elements to create a pounding, crowd-pleasing "mosh" rhythm and acerbic Deadpan Snarker attitude, and in Germany, where it intermingled with European extreme metal to fuse the best of both worlds, springing bands such as Kreator, Sodom, Tankard and Destruction. At the same time, the mainstream music business had gotten wise to the burgeoning success of heavy metal and were busy making a more accessible, radio-friendly version, infusing metal elements into glam and arena rock to create a form of music that has at different times and places been called "glam metal", "pop metal", "Eighties metal" (a serious misnomer as there were plenty of other forms of metal at the time), "Hair Metal", and other more unflattering terms. Glam metal featured a bouncy, dance-friendly beat with an exaggerated echoey "gated" snare tone (just think "Eighties drums" and you'll get the general idea), a mixture of aggressive distortion and sugary mainstream-friendly guitar work, a scaled-back, more rockish variant of the Metal Scream, and a sleazy Hotter and Sexier image with androgynous musicians in highly sexualized outfits, raunchy lyrics that often centered around prostitution, sex, drugs, and L.A./Vegas nightlife. While reviled by the core metal faithful from its very inception, glam metal became outrageously popular, and many "vanilla" heavy metal bands like Def Leppard, Tygers of Pan Tang, and, most infamously, Judas Priest, jumped on the bandwagon after the diversification of the metal genre took the wind out of NWOBHM's sails. Unknown to almost all metal fans during this time, one far less known genre of heavy metal was born during this period and hailed little to no attention- "Doom Metal". Doom metal was the first metal subgenre- having been born with Black Sabbath's titular 'Black Sabbath'. But doom faced stiff competition and it simply couldn't meet the challenge. For one, the main difference between doom and the other genres is its speed= speed, thrash, black, and glam metal from this period was defined by its blistering speed, whereas doom was identified because of its crushing slowness. Because metal has connotations of incredible speed, doom metal simply didn't fit in many's metal worldview even though it was arguably the purest form of heavy metal. Still, doom arose directly from the original Sabbath albums- particularly through the band Pentagram, who are one of the extremely few early '70 metal acts that are as heavy or even heavier than Black Sabbath. But it didn't grow until the early '80s- exacerbating its failure at commercial success was that, besides its snail pace on a genre known for adrenaline speeds, the earliest purely doom metal albums were of exceptionally low quality. It wasn't until Candlemass's 1986 album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus that it came to anyone's attention, and even then its impact was stunted by doom's slow speed and depressive themes. In the face of more commercial genres such as hair metal, more aggressive genres such as thrash metal, and more traditional genres such as power metal, doom metal never stood a chance. The period between 1985-1990 is widely considered the golden age of heavy metal and was the zenith of the genre's popularity and influence and filled with many of the genre's most esteemed classics, but even in these heady years the forces that would create heavy metal's downfall were beginning to manifest. As the Eighties progressed, the formerly quite distinct divide between American and European metal blurred and the various strains of metal began to hybridize. In continental Europe, the "vanilla" heavy metal had taken a different path from that in the US, becoming more and more refined and intellectual in nature as a contrast against the raw fury of extreme metal, which was by now starting to congeal into a cohesive scene that would one day be known as black metal. While this "power metal" had analogues in American bands like Queensr˙che and Manowar, it was far more popular in Europe, where bands like Iron Maiden (not a power metal band itself, but the first significant "thinking man's" metal band and the most important progenitor of power metal) Helloween, Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, and others were wowing metal fans with high-flying instrumental theatrics and escapist, fantasy-oriented lyrics. Power metal and progressive rock, which was now losing the bad reputation it had acquired in the 1970s, spawned a host of new "white-collar" American power metal bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning, and Crimson Glory. Thrash metal also felt the influence of power metal. Thrash had always had a technical, "musician's music" streak with its penchant for lengthy compositions like Metallica's "The Four Horsemen" and Exodus' "Deliver Us to Evil" and noodly "shred" guitar solos, but a new wave of "technical thrash" or "tech thrash" bands took this to an extreme. Bands like Forbidden, Toxik, Watchtower, Coroner, and Heathen reveled in multilayered compositions and tricky, jagged rhythms, and even the more mainstream elements of the subgenre got in on the act—Metallica's 1986 and '88 albums Master of Puppets and ...And Justice For All had songs that approached the ten-minute mark and Dave Mustaine recruited a succession of guitarists from the highly musician-oriented fusion jazz scene (most notably neoclassical virtuoso Marty Friedman) for Megadeth, their practiced chops providing a striking contrast to his wild and creative leads. Two- and three-guitar bands proliferated as guitarists throughout the metal scene reveled in playing off each other and "dueling" with elaborate solo passages. The extreme-influenced, harsh, German strain of thrash metal was now also taking root in America, and a number of bands in California and Florida were putting a violent new twist on it. The new "death metal" scene resembled thrash but was clearly not thrash, with heavily down-tuned, percussive, hammering riffs, a fixation with gruesome, horror movie-like violence, and the harsh screaming of ordinary extreme metal further mutated in gurgling, monstrous growling noises. The impact of Possessed's Seven Churches and Death's Scream Bloody Gore was felt on both sides of the Atlantic, signaling a new wave of extreme metal as death metal took the US metal faithful by storm and Europeans, especially in Sweden, put out their own variations on the genre. As the metal hardcore continued their campaign of one-upmanship, Glam Metal was now one-upping everyone on the charts, with singles by bands like Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe shooting to the top of radio playlists and selling millions of records to a mainstream largely ignored by the "true" metal bands. But this success came with a downside—glam metal's sleazy "Sex Drugs And Rock And Roll" image had become The Theme Park Version of heavy metal, a stereotype that was beginning to overrun the whole genre in the eye of the general public, and many were becoming discontented with the glamour and glitz of the L.A. glam scene. The media labeled them as a bad influence, fickle, style-conscious youth began to see them as posers, and most of their contemporaries were becoming either too esoteric or too extreme to appeal to the average consumer, leaving no ready replacement. As The Eighties turned into The Nineties, even as the record industry were drunk on the genre's success and former bad boys Metallica came within a hair's breadth of taking home a Grammy award, the scene suddenly collapsed. By 1990, the writing was on the wall—the genre was already oversaturated with a raft of subgenres and thousands upon thousands of bands, but the genre's momentum kept it going until Nirvana released their album Nevermind in 1991. Suddenly the youth of the Nineties had found their icon, which not only reflected the angsty new cultural zeitgeist, but seemed simpler and more "authentic" than the glam scene which had now become the face of heavy metal to most people and weren't as unapologetically anti-mainstream and inaccessible as thrash and power metal. The grunge movement soared to prominence in the music scene with the same sort of overwhelming force as punk in the late 1970s and, ironically, heavy metal itself in 1979-81, many of the metal acts that were signed to major music labels were betrayed by their own publishers and sidelined in favor of hip new alternative rock bands. Some metal bands, most notably Metallica with their self-titled "black album" and glam-cum-power-cum-thrash metallers Pantera, who abruptly broke all ties with their past and advanced a stripped-down, testosterone-heavy "groove metal" with 1990's Cowboys from hell, managed to achieve commercial success during this time. Still more heavy metal bands, faced with the choice of abandoning their scene or being buried, simply quit. By 1993, heavy metal was being used as a punch line on Beavis And Butthead and the genre seemed dead. In truth, the genre had come close to dying, but remnants of it had survived, especially in Europe, where glam metal and grunge had much less impact than in the US. Helloween rose from a second-tier speed/power metal act to a megahit with their Keeper of the Seven Keys duology, which focused on catchy vocal melodies, a more light-hearted Lighter and Softer attitude, and influences from synthesizer-heavy European pop music, spawning hundreds of imitators throughout The Nineties. Dream Theater created a modest but enduring fanbase by taking the progressive rock influences on power metal and running with them, merging metal and prog-rock into a unique new "progressive metal" sound that found a following with people who wanted something "smarter" than grunge. Their sophomore effort Images and Words sold 800,000 copies despite being released at the height of the grunge craze. Black Sabbath survived by ignoring most of the developments of the 80s and returning to the bluesy, stomping proto-heavy metal that had carried them through The Seventies, culminating in a brief resurgence of fame as they reunited with former frontman Ronnie James Dio for the 1992 album Dehumanizer, which is still highly regarded to this day. Death metal, a niche genre to begin with, maintained a small but devoted fanbase. And a group of musicians in Norway had turned the chaotic extreme metal scene into a coherent musical movement that would gain notoriety far beyond its small fanbase. This new movement was called black metal, an evolution of the violent extreme metal bands of The Eighties that was fiercely independent, virulently anti-mainstream, and even more provocative than its antecedents. Many of them believed that metal was doomed the moment it courted the mainstream, and cultivated a sound that was as exclusive and "out there" as possible. With deliberately muddy production, extremely harsh soundscapes, and anti-Christian lyrics that ranged from God Is Evil to literal Satanism, black metal was the ultimate in cult fandoms (and some people have literally compared the early scene to a cult). While the movement was very small, often with album sales in triple digits, black metal musicians became most identified with a sort of cultural jihad against Christianity, with outrageous anti-religious statements, disturbing imagery featuring Satanic symbols, bondage gear, and ghoulish makeup, arsons and other attacks on churches and other Christian cultural sites, and identification with Norse mythology (whose association with Those Wacky Nazis was milked for all it was worth). The scene spread slowly but surely, first in Scandinavia and then worldwide, with black metal bands springing up in America, Eastern Europe, and even Japan. The tide begin to turn for heavy metal as The Nineties gave way to the Turn of the Millennium. The resurgence of heavy metal had a