While it may seem like heavy metal is on its way out, in reality the genre is showing no signs of slowing down. The past few years have seen a wave of newcomers take the genre in fresh directions, and it’s only a matter of time before these bands find their way onto the radio and charts.
In the 1980s, heavy metal reached a peak of popularity. This wave of “glam metal” bands, such as Motley Crue and Eddie Van Halen, swept the globe. The genre also developed into several subgenres. Thrash metal was one of the earliest forms, and it was marked by a distinctive sound: fast tempos, harsh vocal timbres, and complex riffs played at breakneck speed.
Another ill-fated trend that blew up in the late 1990s was the “nu-metal” movement. This was the creation of bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit. These bands attempted to combine metal with other genres. Unfortunately, the combination was not as successful as expected. However, it did spark a whole new wave of bands that successfully incorporated electronica and rock into their music.
Heavy metal has always been more diverse than critics would like to admit. As it progressed through the decades, the genre has evolved into various incarnations, including black metal, symphonic metal, folk metal, and progressive death metal. There are also several avant-garde and experimental interpretations of the music.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the genre is that it’s solely played by white males. That hasn’t stopped bands such as Iron Maiden and Metallica from touring for many years. Meanwhile, other bands such as Amon Amarth, Kamelot, and Meshuggah are taking the genre in exciting new directions.
The genre began with Black Sabbath in 1970. Their music has since become synonymous with heavy metal, and has appeared in many films and video games. It is also known for its indecipherable lyrics, which often address topics such as Satanism.
When the metal genre first appeared, it was regarded as an act of rebellion. In addition to its many unique features, heavy metal was also viewed as a way for teens to express themselves. Many fans would yell and scream at the top of their lungs to show their disdain for society.
Metal’s mainstream popularity waned in the 1970s, and the genre became a victim of academics, who blamed it for violence and despondency. However, the genre recovered in the 1980s. Several seminal recordings spearheaded the revival. Saxon’s Strong Arm of the Law, Accept’s I’m a Rebel, and Judas Priest’s The Number of the Beast sparked an interest in the music that had long been buried under the “hard rock” category.
The emergence of nu-metal was another blow to traditional bands. However, it has been a boon for many up-and-comers, as it gave them a chance to reimagine the genre in their own unique ways. Mastodon, for example, proved that metal could be more than just a noisy noise.
If you want to get your fix of metal today, you can check out Bandcamp, Rate Your Music, and the plethora of daily metal blogs. And if you’re looking for a real taste of the genre, you can attend a metal festival such as Bloodstock.