From a recent publication of Perfect Sound Forever, some information echoing our FAQ about the origin of heavy metal:
Leaving out the blues element in the late ’70s, metal pioneers Judas Priest and Mötörhead had used their heaviness while keeping in line with the attitude of punk to create a sound that was heavy rock n’ roll punk filled with economic guitar solos, much like those heard in the Ramones and Sex Pistols. In fact, Mötörhead’s 1977 self-titled debut, which had included the element of speed, had often mixed the sound of classic rock with punk and the ’70’s glam rock of Bowie and Slade. This would soon would be followed by ’80’s metal pioneers Saxon, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Diamond Head and Girlschool who had added a great amount of guitar dexterity to the mix becoming a prime characteristic of ’80s metal music from the beginning.
In addition, the article addresses some of the concerns with commercialization and assimilation that came straight out of the 1980s:
When considering ’80s metal, one has to recognize that although the spirit of punk from which it came had mainly focused on anarchy, anti-consumerism, anti-corporate control, much of it, particularly glam, had taken on a strong commercial aspect in the rise of a particularly increasingly commercial period. Mixed with a sporty look and big hair when an enormous mix of different music and styles had existed, after following on from punk and much that was derived from classic rock, metal music in the ’80s had flourished as corporate rock in a period when the commercialization of music saw the rise of an unstoppable corporatization on a wide international scale- indeed, major U.S. record companies were selling themselves to media moguls in Japan and Europe. In fact, metal was a music engulfed by a “give me the money decade” full of excess – drink, women, hair, drugs in a period which saw the beginning of fragmentation in music when the rebelliousness that once seemed to possess more innovativeness and originality from which it had originally stemmed from became swallowed up by commercialism.
In fact, one of the original ANUS articles, now lost to time, was about the difference between commercialism of a non-commercial genre and being within a commercial genre like Queensrÿche or Iron Maiden, who did their best despite coming from the aboveground.
Tags: 1980s, assimilation, commercialism, Heavy Metal, underground
4 thoughts on “On The Origins of Heavy Metal and Assimilation”
Motorhead feel more relevant with every passing year. Even with Campbell and Dee, especially so maybe. A very unique combination of styles with Lemmy’s often brilliant lived-in lyrics to round it off. A huge influence on metal all-around (no thrash, no Venom, no Discharge, no Bathory without Motorhead) We won’t see the like again. Salut!
In other words, metal became a mirror reflection of the period in which it was being created. To those who fetishize the ’80s, don’t get me wrong, in comparison to the current year the ’80s were Shangri-La. That being said, it was also the decade of Boesky, Milken, greed as virtue and narcissism as a healthy expression of the individual. The good metal of the time retained the spirit that birthed metal: anarchy, anti-consumerism, and anti-corporate control.
Although the torch bearers of this spirit either faded into obscurity or eventually sold out (Metallica anyone?), the latter half of the decade and into the early ’90s saw that spirit rekindled in all its splendor like a blaze in the northern sky. The embers of said spirit still smolder in us cantankerous, jaded Xers, self-medicated, quasi-hippie Millenials, and nascent Zoomers discovering the gifts of their forbears.
I don’t feel like being a sadsack today, so I’ll end with a quote from one of the writers who most resonated with me in my youth as well as today:
“metal became a mirror reflection of the period in which it was being created”
This brings to mind a question a friend put to me when we were discussing the possible causes of the increasing scarcity of high quality metal over the last 25 years or so:
“What is missing from the modern approach?”
I believe that a significant change in underground metal artists’ formative musical diet during childhood could be part of the answer.
People of my generation (born in the early 70s) are more likely to have:
– Been brought up by parents who were born before the rock ‘n’ roll era, who enjoyed classical music all of their lives. Classical music was often played at home, on car journeys, etc.
– Taught about classical music at school, including the opportunity to learn how to play classical music on an orchestral instrument.
– Enjoyed many popular movie soundtracks that were often inspired by great classical music.
– Grown up hearing commercial pop/rock music of the late 60s, 70s and early 80s – most of which was junk, but at least some of it was musically diverse and inventive.
None of this is the case (or is far less likely) for the kids of more recent generations. In contrast, their formative musical diet is much less nutritious because:
– Modern classical music is inferior and is usually too abstract, experimental or simplistic to be accessible or of any interest to kids. No great classical music has been composed in the last few decades that will endure like the great works of Beethoven, Wagner, Mozart, etc.
– Exposure to classical music at school has declined (see https://www.rhinegold.co.uk/classical_music/can-schools-ignore-music-curriculum/ and https://www.gramophone.co.uk/other/article/why-are-our-schools-pushing-classical-music-to-the-margins and https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/apr/02/classical-music-children)
– Popular movie soundtracks increasingly often adopt modern pop/rock music rather than orchestral music.
– Commercial pop & rock has fully deteriorated from being mostly junk to become 100% junk.
When those kids reach a stage where some of them discover and gain an interest in underground metal, their unhealthy formative musical diet (combined with the ever-growing heap of bad metal) reduces the likelihood of those kids instinctively or consciously appreciating qualities in the music that may have otherwise led them to create truly inspired, great metal which could endure like the classic albums of the late 80s and early 90s.
Yes I guess that is what they are doing in south afrikkka no?
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