History of Heavy Metal
hesis Popular music was recorded and marketed as a Counterculture which opposed the normal, functional, and unexciting Culture that was dominant in society; by being outside of that which was in power, Counterculturalists argued, they were able to see what was “real” and to implement a “progressive” worldview in which moral correctness brought us gradually closer to a utopian state. This marketing mirrored the process of adolescents, the main audience for popular music, who first reject the world of their parents, then once independent re-assess their own values, and finally, rejoin society on the terms of these recreated values.
This determines “reality” as they will act to create it, based upon their values system. While dominant Culture sought what was pragmatic, and Counterculture pursued the moral, metal music became its own movement because it could not agree with either of those approaches, preferring instead to try to seek what was “real,” or meaningful and “heavy” (in the LSD-influenced vernacular of the time). Their approach did not aim at correctness, but assertion of subjective meaning. eff hanneman, a founding member of slayer, described their music as a mix between old british heavy metal and melodic hardcore punkEarly metal bands, in emulation of popular music as a whole, hoped to discover what was real by finding out first what was not. This attitude, over the course of four generations of music, took metal beyond the grounds of “good” versus “evil” into nihilism, where nothing had inherent value or classification, but could be described in terms of experience.
Nihilism is a frightening belief system for those in societies organized by dualistic (heaven versus earth) and liberal (individualistic, egalitarian) societies, as it denies that our values systems are more real than events in natural reality. To a nihilist, truth is a way we describe some things in reality, but there is no eternal life nor eternal truth which exists separate from immortality.
Nihilism means accepting mortality, and experience as what we have in place of a religious or moral truth. These ideas exceed limits of social acceptability, which in a capitalist liberal democracy threatens the self-marketing which individuals use to gain business partners, social groups and mates. As a result, metal was forced to wholly transcend the artificial consensual reality shared by Culture and Counterculture, and to create its own value system including its nihilism.
Seeking the real, and not the moral, this value system in turn surpassed its own nihilism by moving from a negative logical viewpoint to an assertive one, looking not for something objectively determined to be “eternal” but for that which will be true in any age past or present, discovering through personal experience and acceptance of nihilism (a symbolic analogue for mortality) that which society will not recognize, completing the process of adolescence in a state of actual outsidership.
Introduction nuclear missiles threaten the daily existence of most life on our planet Metal music began as the work of the youth born after the superpower age began, during a highly developmental period for Western civilization in which it, having defeated fascism and nationalism and other old-world evolution-based systems of government, considered itself highly evolved in a humanistic state of liberal democracy which benefitted the individual more than any system previously on record.
During this era, society served citizens in their quest for the most convenient lifestyle possible, and any questions or goals outside of this worldview were not considered: it was considered a “progressive” continuation of human development from a primitive evolutionary “red in tooth and claw” state to one in which social concepts of justice and morality defined the life of the individual. The individual has triumphed over the natural world, and faces none of the uncertainty of mortal existence brought about by physical competition and predation.
Politically (the global quest for egalitarian society) and socially (the empowerment of new groups and loss of consensus) humanity viewed itself as getting ahead and being superior to other forms of civilization, including the equally egalitarian but totalitarian Communist empires of the Soviet Union and China, but as the thermonuclear age dawned in the 1950s, this dichotomy came to define the “free West” as much as its enemies.
Iwo Jima dawned a new age of moral supremacy in the postwar superpower USAThe first generation after WWII created early proto-metal in a time when all older knowledge and social order was being overturned in the wake of an impulse to redesign the world to avoid the “evils” of the previous generation. The people of this age, and coming ages, were new in that they could not recall a time of direct experience of nature as necessary; the grocery stores, modern medicine and industrial economies of their time took care of all of their needs, and no unbroken natural world could any longer be found except on specialty tours.
Their civilization had become exclusively introspective and was losing contact with the (natural) world beyond its self-defined boundaries. During this time, a “peace” movement which embraced pacifism and egalitarian individualism was gaining popularity at the forefront of the counterculture, a phenomenon which had existed since in the 1950s smart marketers (namely Allen Freed) had promoted rock music as an alternative to the staid, traditional, monogamous and sober lives of Protestant, Anglo-Saxon Americans.
With WWII polarizing the world against first German and later Russian “enemies,” and Viet Nam revealing the moral bankruptcy of benevolent superpowers motivated by their economies, society was becoming more dependent upon the ideological tradition building over the last 2,000 years: focus on the individual, or individualism, as politically expressed in egalitarianism and liberal democracy. This was expressed in both culture and counterculture.
In contrast, metal music emphasized morbidity and glorified ancient civilizations as well as heroic struggles, merging the gothic attitudes of art rock with the broad scope of progressive rock, but most of all, its sound emphasized heavy: a literal reality that cut through all of our words and symbols and grand theories, to remind us that we are mortal and not ultimately able to control our lifespan or the inherent abilities we have.
This clashed drastically with both the pacifist hippie movement and the religious and industrial sentiments of the broader society surrounding it. Philosophy This was a confrontation with the “abyss” as first described by existentialist F. W Nietzsche: the awareness that life is finite and of functional, transactional maintenance; that we are both predator and prey, and that we have no control over our lives or death.
To Nietzsche, and thinkers such as Arthur Schopenhauer before him, to realize this was an “undergoing,” or embracing of nihilism: the belief that there is no value other than the inherent, physical interaction of the natural world. To a nihilist, there is no inherent morality or value, thus there is no reason to view social status and financial success as ultimate goals, only as methods to a path ranked by subjectively-derived importance.
This view threatens the beliefs and punishments used to hold Western society together since roughly AD 1000. Regardless of benevolent social objectives, Nietzsche argued, religion and society were cults that banished death through the “revenge” that morality offered in giving the individual a vector by which to be “better” than the world itself, and by being “equal” to all others, immune to comparison (a symbolic form of predation triggered by Charles Darwin’s arguments on “survival of the fittest).
In essence, Nietzsche saw social behavior itself as an enemy of reality recognition in the individual and thus, like morality, an ingrained influence that would prompt rebellion and instability within a society that would know no other recourse than moral norming. Heavy metal, as the music most visibly fascinated with death and suffering (and most likely to mention Nietzsche), addresses the sublimated issue of Nietzsche’s abyss in Western society, which has based its founding rinciples and individual social and mystical values upon the polarity of “good” and “evil,” is an identification with the enemy. In the Judeo-Christian view, death and suffering are an enemy which is banished with “good” behavior in the hopes of heavenly (and earthly) reward. In secular form, egalitarian capitalist liberal democracy “empowers” the individual and gives him or her the moral “freedom” to act without regard for the natural world, thus being immune to predation and any form of assessment outside of the social and fiscal.
When one embraces the breadth of history (outside of the current civilization), the nihilistic lack of eternal presence of value, the predominance of death and predation, and the logic of feral impulse, one has directly challenged both modern capitalist liberal democracy and the extensive religious (Judeo-Christian) and secular (liberalism) heritage upon which it is built. ,000 years before Christ there was a religion in Northern India which addressed these issues in a sense without dualism; it believed that life is known to humans through sensual (eyes, ears, taste, smell, touch) perception of a reality composed of ideas which was similar in structure to both nature and the process of thought itself. In this religion the Faustian spirit was clearly present, as while a heroic deed was more important than survival, personal mortality was clearly affirmed.
Thus there was both meaning and death, and no absolute God or Heaven to reconcile the two. This required the individual to declare values worthy of filling a life, and worth dying for, and from this origin the ancient heroic civilizations were spawned. Metal’s belief system is closer to this than to any modern equivalent, thus it is sensible to posit a closure of the cycle and its renewal in the ideas gestured by heavy metal music. Music Art does not exist in a vacuum within the minds of its creators.
If a concept is applied to music, there is a corresponding concept in structure and the worldview of the artist that creates the frame of mind in which the artist creates music which sounds like its desired value system. Art is too complex to be created without any prior thought as to what it expresses; this concept is common in literature and visual art, but ignored in popular music (perhaps because in most popular music, the concept – and the music – reflect crass materialism and futile neurosis and not much else).
At the end of an age of moral symbolism and technological norming, metal is recreating the language of music to reflect heroic values, formulated from the nihilistic mandate of “now that you believe in nothing, find something worth believing in. ” The ease of social and political identification found in rock music is eschewed, as are aesthetics which endorse the myopic neurosis of first world lifestyles. And while metal has evolved over several generations, several musical facets remain the same, suggesting a corresponding shared conceptual underpinning.
This “design form” of metal differs from popular music in one simple way, but from this arise any number of techniques and attributes which allow composers to create in this method. Its primary distinguishing characteristic is that metal embraces structure more than any other form of popular music; while rock is notorious for its verse-chorus-verse structure and jazz emphasizes a looser version of the same allowing unfetter improvisation, metal emphasizes a motivic, melodic narrative structure in the same way that classical and baroque music do.
Each piece may utilize other techniques, but what holds it together is a melodic progression between ideas that do not fit into simple verse-chorus descriptors. Even in 1960s proto-heavy metal, use of motives not repeated as part of the verse-chorus cycle and transitional riffing suggested a poetic form of music in which song structure was derived from what needed to be communicated. Synthesis rthur schopenhauer, one of the few humans with any cognitive abilityIn this structuralism, metal music asserts a concern for the underlying mechanism of the universe as a whole, instead of limiting its focus to human social concerns. This degrades the public image fascination begun in the West with absolutist morality; in its use of power chords, the most harmonically flexible chord shape, and a tendency toward melodic composition, metal music emphasizes an experience, where rock can articulate at best a moment and then put it into a repeating loop.
While rock uses more open chords and aesthetic variation, its outlook is ultimately a utopic form of the counterculture: progressive trends leading to some ultimate state of an absolute, such as “freedom” or “joy” or “popularity. ” By way of contrast, metal music is a portrait of the post-humanist mindset: concerned more about natural reality than social symbolism, addressing experience instead of moral conclusion, and, when it seeks a context of meaning, oriented toward the subjective experience than an “objectivity” derived from shared societal concept.
It is aware that leaving behind the comforting alternate reality of social assessment returns to a natural state in which the individual is ranked among others according to ability, much as predation did years ago, and is forced to accept mortality and limits of personal control. This thought demonstrates the modern era of Western civilization facing the ideas of the ancients while eschewing the consensual social reality of industrial capitalist liberal democracies, and, as said societies collapse from lack of consensus, a potential future direction for Indo-European culture.
Period 1 [ 1865 – 1949 ] History [ Populism ] In this age, America matured from its beginnings into the bureaucratic complexities of a modern republic, decided on its unifying concept, and consequently, experienced demographic and social change. Having been formed in 1789 on a compromise between those who wished to remain colonies and those who wished for a centralized federal entity, the fledgling nation had resolved few of its internal disputes in part owing to the chaos of its birth and the ongoing warfare that afflicted it as late as 1812.
Having dispatched this, it began attempting to find consensus among the disparate viewpoints that had not found home in a Europe wracked by internal religious infighting descended from the conflicts of the middle ages. As the nation-state of America expanded, especially toward the West, there was an increasing need for governmental intervention to resolve disputes (seen by the republic as transactional) between settlers and Indians, settlers and each other, Westward republics and the banks that owned them back east.
This required a commitment to a bureaucratic entity, which in turn required central authorities and standards. The result was, after some internal peregrinations, a Civil War not fought over the issue of slavery (as asserted in middle school textbooks) but the issue of state’s rights: was the United States a confederacy of small independent nations, or a republic made of states which were essentially local variants on the order imposed by a strong central government?
The latter prevailed due to the industrial supremacy of the northeast; this would be a central theme in most American wars. Once this concept had been decided, it was over the next forty years unified by an expansion of the founding concepts of the nation in accordance with the decisions of the Civil War. The highest power was the Federal State, but the Individual was its currency, and therefore America came to embrace its image as the “melting pot” in which the “poor, huddled masses” might find refuge.
As a result of this new marketing, America invited and enfranchised new groups of people, starting with recently-freed African slaves and continuing to an acceptance of previously unwanted immigrant groups, such as Irish/Scots, Italians, Jews and Slavs. Because of this change, a shift in alignment occurred that would plague America in the coming years: the original Northern European population of America, now seen as the top dog in a complicated caste system, began to isolate itself through financial and social means from successive waves of newcomers of fundamentally different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
This was contrasted by an egalitarian movement to accept these people and “diverse,” or non-collectively-consensual ideas into the mainstream; as time passed, this movement became known as the counterculture, but that could only occur after World War II, when the country was united in temporary consensus by a shared enemy. As a result of these social changes, American ideology underwent public change.
Where it had once been an elitist nation designed for those who could rise above the need for a normative social order, it became an inclusive and facilitative society whose greatest degree of commonality was a desire by its new and old populations to rise in class rank through the earning power afforded by a vast industrial civilization. Over time, this view, in which society pandered to the diverse and non-consensual individuals for the purpose of “empowering” them to be socially equal, earn money and become autonomous agents of wealth, became known in a generalized sense as “Populism. Music [ Rock ] One cannot contemplate rock music without viewing its roots; that being said, its roots cannot be viewed without analyzing their origins in turn, and the political circumstance which shaped their public image. Derived from English drinking songs, Celtic folk music, German popular music including waltzes and the proto-gospel singing of Scottish immigrants, “country folk” music had been an aspect of American culture since the early days of the Republic, but as it existed in country and not city was rarely recognized by cultural authorities of the day.
Further, once new populations became empowered and replaced the old, most of this history was forgotten. In part, the reason for this was political: the members of society who advanced American popular music as an artform were not of the original Northern European population, nor were they disposed toward thinking benevolently toward the same; further, they needed to invent something which, like advertising throughough the 1950s, presented itself as an ppositional alternative to the “traditional, boring” way of doing things (early advertising extolled the virtues of its products, while later advertising promoted products as part of a lifestyle which had to demonstrate both novelty and uniqueness to have value as a replacement for the traditional, boring, and otherwise effective way of doing things; this transcendence of function for image has fundamentally shaped American character).
As a result, the mythos of blues as a solely African-American artform, and the denial of the Celtic, English and American folk influences on both blues and rock music, was perpetrated as a marketing campaign with highly destructive results for all involved. The blues was not formalized until it was recorded, and at that point in time, a fixed structure was imposed on it based on the interpretations of others.
Broadly stated, it used a minor pentatonic scale with a flatted fifth, constant syncopation, and distinctive “emotional” vocal styles. Of all of its components, none were unique, nor was its I-IV-V chord progression unique to the blues. To view it from an ethnomusical perspective, the blues is an aesthetic (not musical) variation on the English, Scottish, Irish and German folk music which made up the American colloquial sonic art perspective since its inception.
From a marketing perspective, however, the blues had to be marketed as a revelation from the downtrodden and suffering African-American slaves, so that it might maintain an “outsider” perspective which, to people bored with a society based on money and lacking heroic values, might appear more “authentic” than their own. When country music was re-introduced to the then-standardized blues form, the result was called rock music. Its primary difference from country was in its use of vocals which emphasized timbre over tonal accuracy, and the adoption of a more insistent, constant syncopated beat.
While German waltz and popular music bands had invented the modern drum kit and developed most techniques for percussion, their music and that of their country counterparts in America tended to use drums sparsely, much more in the style of modern jazz bands than in the ranting, repetitive, dominant methods of rock music. However, it is hard to find someone in a crowd of mixed caste, race, class and intellect for whom a constant beat is intellectually and sensually inaccessible, so it was adopted as a convention.
Much as the standardization of the blues took diverse song forms and brought them into a single style, rock swept a wide range of influences into a monochromatic form. Some historical backfill is worth noting here. The Celtic folksongs of Ireland and Scotland had two main influences: the pentatonic drone music of the Semitic “natives” of the UK, namely Scythians and the diverse groups forming “Picts,” and the Indo-European traditional music which is continued in India today.
The melodies, including pentatonic variations of many different forms (many of which include the flatted fifth or modal analogue), are almost contiguous such that a player of Indian classical music and a Celtic folklorist can complete each others’ melodies in the traditional manner. Similarly, pentatonic music also derived from the Indo-European tradition was present in Germany, most notably in the biergartens and public ceremonies requiring simple music that everyone could enjoy.
These musics employed improvisation, as did classical playing from the previous four hundred years; when these historical facts are recognized, American popular music can be identified as the marketing hoax that it is. The consequences of this hoax have been a persistent blaming of white Americans for “stealing” a black form of music that never existed, and in return, a condescension toward traditional forms of music of all races that became identified with, and scorned as, a black form of music.
As we shall see, marketing has both shaped the American experience and contributed to longstanding internal conflicts without resolution. In terms of popular music, marketing is important precisely because it insists on standard forms; they are easy to reproduce without requiring any particularly unique talents on the part of performers, producers, marketers or audience. This has caused an increasing simplification of music while marketing has grown correspondingly more savvy and, like American advertising as a whole, has grown away from focus on the product to focus on lifestyle associations unrelated to the product.
However it arrived, blues-country became “rock” in the 1930s-1950s mainly because of technology. Adolph Rickenbacker invented the electric guitar in 1931, and recording equipment advanced from the primitive to the cheaper and more portable units brought on by vacuum tube and then transistor technology. Additionally, microphones improved, especially those which could capture the nuances of voice.
Louder guitars and vocals required the simple shuffle beats of blues drumming to gain volume, prompting a revolution in drum kit assembly. As a result, the simple blues-country hybrid became a marketing standard known as “rock ‘n’ roll,” then “rock,” as it was absorbed into the American mainstream. The earliest bands lacked much in the way of style, but wrote complacently harmonizing pieces based on the European popular music of clubs in the 1930s (much of jazz is based upon the same music).
As time went on, the stylings – appearance, performance and cultural positioning – of the music became more advanced, and the songs themselves became simpler and more like advertising jingles. Art [ Individualism ] If one thread had to be described in the art of the era as rising parallel to Populism in the political and social consciousness, it would be Individualism: the belief in the decisions and desires and needs of the individual as the most important value held by humans, especially in the context of “lifestyle choices” which involve the purchasing of products.
Much of this relates to the desire of new American immigrants to both fit in and be accepted for what they were, as, lacking the cultural affectations of Northern Europeans, they demanded a “tolerant” society such that their own customs might not come into conflict with any dominant or consensus-oriented cultural standards. Thus non-consensus became consensus through the vehicle of absolute individual autonomy, and a depletion of any standards for the goals of individual behavior.
When the religious impetus to America first developed, it was in the form of settlers escaping the imperial sentiments of a Europe united by Christianity; after one thousand years of wrangling in which the mostly Judaic-Buddhistic doctrine of early Christianity had been replaced with the Euro-Brahminic doctrine of Catholicism, the continent had accepted the modified religion and begun the process of bringing disparate cultures and peoples under its yoke.
As government became necessary, it followed a pattern of allowing universal non-consensus (a process similar to the autonomy granted the individual by moralism, which places not harming others as a higher value than finding the right answer for all people) which accelerated after the Civil War, as it needed to justify its crushing of those who wanted America to be a loose confederation of countries with different rules and customs for each, and after WWII, when America had to justify her total war and nuclear engagement against “totalitarian” empires by coming up with a better marketing slogan, namely the “land of the free” rhetoric.
Thus individualism travelled from a minor technique of asserting independence from the dominant religious tradition of the mother continent to a justification for global military and cultural supremacy. Art did not escape this influence. As art is a mental process that, if the artist wishes to survive on his or her skill, produces a salable physical entity, public and popular art by definition must find something to sell to its audience, usually by exploring concepts with which they are familiar and enamored.
For this reason, in capitalist liberal democratic societies especially art tends to follow the trends of each era, and in America, art has gone from being of the elitist classical music and fine arts tradition of Europe to having a distinctly popular flair, reflecting the individualistic concept that no idea can be judged by collective standards, and thus that like individuals all art and all perspectives are “equal,” and have no meaning except aesthetics; thus if art appeals to one for sentimental or visual reasons, it is more important than any transcendent meaning it might attempt to convey.
This individualism shaped the stylistic aspects of rock’n’roll more than any other single force. Influence [ Country, Celtic ] Country, Folk and Celtic music originally had a diversity of forms but under the influence of rock music, became increasingly closer to the standard rock form while feeling the pressure to change stylistically. In this the normative influence of monochromatic forms such as rock music is seen. Period 2 [ 1950 – 1969 ] History [ Counterculture ] I’ve watched the dogs of war enjoying their feast I’ve seen the western world go down in the east The food of love became the greed of our time
But now I’m living on the profits of pride – Black Sabbath, “Hole in the Sky,” 1975 the vietnam war shattered the faith of americans and people worldwide in the US government When World War II broke out across Asia, Europe, and finally the Americas, there was at first confusion as to how to portray this war. A world already sickened by the first World War and the Great Depression was inclined toward non-interventionist policies, favoring sticking close to home and fixing local problems (the Depression having run for a decade, most countries were starved for social services and public works that had lapsed during that time).
Ultimately, what leaders and propagandists alike made the tone of their argumentation was the concept of the “free world” versus leaders who were seen as arbitrarily totalitarian. Where before World War II, Hitler was seen as an ideologue who would use any method to achieve his ends, in the hands of US propagandists he became an insane man lusting for power who would use ideology to justify his ends (the same was done to Tojo, Mussolini and later, in a case in which it may have been accurate, Stalin).
The result of this propaganda was to consolidate the different aspects of egalitarian philosophy in the West into a single imperial doctrine, that of bringing “freedom” of individualism to an (obviously) otherwise “uncivilized” world, thus justifying the right of America and her allies to engage in any warlike practice that suited them against nations which did not uphold the capitalist liberal democratic government, widely held to be the most “empowering” and “moral” form of government.
Whether fighting godless Communists or the “Hitlerian” nationalist Milosevic, the Americans – and their allies of liberal powers including wartime partners the UK and Australia – felt themselves justified in waging war for the reason of bringing capitalist liberal democracy to the “people” of distant homelands. This was in many ways parallel to COMINTERN, or the Communist movement to “empower” workers worldwide with Communist societies. However, the first tremors of uncertainty cracked this facade during the years following WWII.
First in Korea, and then in Viet Nam, the Americans faced wars of murky practices and equally murky outcomes following the doctrine of “Containment,” by which Communism was blocked from gaining a foothold across the world. As it turns out, Containment was not incorrect, for Communism or any other system, as industrial powers tend to influence their neighbors through gifts of weapons and financial aid (carrot) and military intimidation (stick).
The Vietnam war brought this uncertainty to a head in 1968 during the Tet Offensive, when an American public who had been assured by their TV sets that the Vietnamese Communists (NVA/VC) had been all but beaten suddenly witnessed a Communist force of unpredicted size and strength swarming from all corners to attack a demoralized, racially-divided and drug-addicted US military.
The result was politically contained, later, but it was clear to most alert observers that American doctrine was facing a major challenge both externally and surprisingly, internally (it took two decades before a liberal president, Bill Clinton, would apply the same policies with limited success in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan). The result of this doubt and political posturing was most profound in America.
In the 1950s, Beats and other cultural insurgent groups cast aspersions onto the traditional American way of life, one which had in the 1950s become accessible to the second-tier European populations such as Italians, Irish/Scots, and Slavs (all historically less favored because of their racial mixture, in the case of the Italians, Arabs, the Irish/Scots,
Scythians and other middle eastern groups, and the Slavs, Mongols, Gypsies and Jews). When the Beats faded toward the end of the 1950s, they had been statistically insignificant except in academia, which meant the next generation of teachers in the 1960s were well-versed in Beat and liberal orthodoxy, and taught it to students from age 13 onward.
Consequently, the youth coming of age in 1965 were aligned against the religion, social practices and values of their parents, and burst into full flower as a “Counterculture” whose primary doctrine was that opposition in the name of traditional American values of liberty, equality and fraternity applied to disenfranchised populations from African-Americans to American Indians to Jews and Homosexuals.
These groups united under the Countercultural banner to become a force that assimilated American liberalism and redirected its agenda to empowerment for all, once it became dominant. However, before it gained any social status, it had “outsider” authenticity and cachet which made it a sought-after cultural force across the West, in part because of its contrarian status and its lack of acceptance among the cultural and social mechanisms of the day. Music – [ Proto-metal ]
Since 1950s rock had been such whitebread wholesomeness, centered mainly around puppy love and going to the beach or the sock hop, the revenge of those who had been left out focused angrily on dissident and alienated themes, but expressed them to some degree in the civility of the day, leading to forms that in our current time of literal and material thought are tame, but in their time were offensive by the nature of their existence. These came in three forms, one crude, one arty, and one technique-oriented. ggy pop and the stooges renovated rock to be stripped down, dead of harmony and ruthlessly nihilisticThe first was the advent of loud, distorted blues, which was pioneered by a mess of a band called Blue Cheer, who made braying, droning, grinding blues rock with the aid of deformed amplifiers and a passion for crudity. They were the vanguard of a range of electric blues bands from Cream to Jimi Hendrix to ZZ Top, and inspired much of the loud rock which followed, including proto-punk-rockers the Kinks and the Who.
Much can be said about these bands, but what is most important is that they took the traditions of folk and blues improvisation and turned them into something technically on par with the jazz and big band acts of the day, adding guitar fireworks and lengthy songs to a genre that was otherwise strictly radio-play ditties. The second tine of the fork was progressive rock, which in 1968 found its most extreme act in King Crimson, but which truly flowered during the early middle 1970s.
Arguably, this genre was given impetus by a band overmentioned in any history of popular music because they were among the first to leave standard rock format, overcoming its novelty, namely, the Beatles. Their work was one of many that allowed bands to mix classical and jazz training into their rock, resulting in longer song structures, many of which were narrative or neo-operatic (Camel, Genesis, Yes) and the use of distortion and dissonance in artful ways.
While these bands ultimately choked on their own “virtuosity,” being nestled in a genre that could barely appreciate them but not reaching the level of complexity of classical works (in part because of a need to service the unending drumbeats and syncopated rhythms common to rock), they lived on in contributions to other genres. Finally, there was a tradition of bands who grew from the surf and garage rock traditions into a technique-oriented neo-proto-punk-rock format, beginning with half-American Indian guitarist Link Wray and leading through surf guitar champion Dick Dale, both of whom were users of distortion.
Psychedelic bands such as the 13th Floor Elevators and semi-punkers like Love and The Trees are worth mentioning here, but these bands had a foot as well in inspiration from the first dark rock band to exist, the Doors. Where other rock bands had focused on love or peace, the Doors brought a Nietzsche-inspired morbid subconscious psychedelia to rock music, and were the origins of much of the neo-Romanticism which later bloomed into metal, as well as many of the more inspired moments of progressive and punk rock.
By 1969, the influence of these artists had saturated the forms of public consciousness which were focused on rock music as a developing artform, and contributed to the explosion of hard rock (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple) and proto-metal (Black Sabbath), both of which occurred simultaneously to the development of distorted, power-chord based technical music from King Crimson. This year was thus the watershed for loud forms of rock, as it started three threads which would run concurrently during the 1970s and hybridize in the next decade. obert fripp in king crimson and as a solo artist contributed much of the theory to metal before 1969In many ways taking up where the Doors left off, Black Sabbath were originally a British electric blues band named Earth, but after guitarist Toni Iommi had a stint in progressive rock band Jethro Tull (and not coincidentally, members of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath participated in each other’s projects), the quartet surged foward with a new sound, inspired by horror movies and the same morbid, neo-Gothic animal nihilism that had made the Doors strikingly out of place.
Using perhaps the most extreme distortion heard so far, and reducing the flowery instrumentalism of the time to the basics, Black Sabbath combined progressive rock with electric blues and created something that differed from its contemporaries in several ways: it almost exclusively used power chords; it used bassier distortion; it had narrative song structures like a progressive band, but relied on gut-simple riffs for the majority of its air time; it was morbid, occult and negative in its lyrical outlook.
For all of the political change fomented by 1960s rock, Black Sabbath were a shock — but even more surprising was their consequent success on radio and in record stores. They had tuned into something their worldwide audience found relevant, if not appealing. Legend relates that the members of Black Sabbath, looking for a new “angle” (trend) in rock music, drove past a marquee for the horror movie titled Black Sabbath in English speaking countries. H. P.
Lovecraft, arguably the founder of that genre, once stated that in life he had not observed good or evil, but an abundance of horror – meaning that there was no moral classification for the “bad” things that happened, but that the experience would be horrific. Black Sabbath as a band, in adopting their new image, sought to express the experience of horror and truth, eschewing for a moment the rigid morality of rock bands around them. if you keep your hippies dry, they smell betterIt is important to note that most of this occurred with notice – by the members of Black Sabbath.
They wanted to be musicians and fit in somewhere between power blues and progressive rock, and despite drug use, psychological mishaps and basic personal instability, they created a “sound” that was ahead of its time – and ahead of its musicians. Much less articulated than Led Zeppelin (and farther from the rock norm of the time), they launched themselves ahead of the crowd and then had to look back and gather some sense of direction, causing the band to collapse artistically by 1978.
At that point, however, the formula for 1970s heavy metal was established: a smidgen of the King Crimson esoteric weirdness, the dark Gothic haunting cavernous sound of Black Sabbath, the guitar wizardry of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, the physical thunder and brash insane hedonism of Blue Cheer. At this point in history, “heavy metal” (a term borrowed from beat writer William S. Burroughs’ 1962 novel, The Soft Machine) was viewed as somewhere between prog rock and psychedelia, but already its content was starting to differentiate itself.
Primarily, mainstream radio music will always follow the same song format that was the basis of the English drinking songs and Scots hymns that inspired the blues, including some degree of instrumental vocal shadowing (“call and response”), repetitive verse chorus form, and a bridge taking the song to a brief melodic counterpoint and then resolution. The more intricate Black Sabbath songs were thus mostly lost to radio, encouraging any artists wishing to develop those concepts to do so elsewhere.
Further, the morality of the time and the counterculture was offended by the occultism Black Sabbath had chosen as an aesthetic image, yet had found it loomed larger than life (aided by the semi-serious occultism of Led Zeppelin’s Jimi Page). Occult beliefs are distinguished from “normal” (Christian, Jewish) religions by the occult’s tendency to accept good and evil as forcing balancing the universe, both being necessary, as in the gnostic tradition.
This doesn’t sit well with church elders nor with Counterculture members trying to come up with a universal, absolute reason why change and empowerment of the less-fortunate must occur. Years later, even highly political punkers were often skeptical and repulsed by the amorphous, indefinite stance of heavy metal, as if they fear the reaction of an occult mystic to their rule-based logic. Art – [ Moralism ] mericans have always used ideology to justify lifestyle expansionsDuring this era, in which the superpowers re-aligned themselves internally to justify their violent projection of individual “freedom” upon the world, as a consequence of their competition with the Communist empires of Russia and China, the primary goal of Western art was to glorify the individual and the choices it faced approaching “freedom” in an industrial society. Jazz rose into the mainstream and took on new forms, most notably the harmolodic (free harmony) of Ornette Coleman and the consequent adoption of that technique by John Coltrane, as a coda to hard bop.
Mainstream film and literature both praised the individual and its range of choices, and warned of possible confusion in this new society. Don DeLillo’s 1972 novel White Noise is emblematic of this tendency, in that it both explored the importance of each individual life and warned about a lost span of consciousness in a world of brands, constant distractions, entertainment and cities which were more like machines than dwelling areas. Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the years following, Gravity’s Rainbow, warned of the moral – individualistic – consequences of too much technological thinking.
Some years before, William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch had suggested that society operated according to an “Algebra of Need,” in which the drug seller’s dependency on his client’s dependency was compared to the system of capital itself. While these books were highly critical of society itself, their criticism was based in liberal democratic thought and the importance of the individual, which made them both critics and collaborators in the society of the time.
At a certain level, there is truth in the observation that to explain evil is the first step to excusing it; indeed, that all explanation is, de facto, exoneration. It is a dangerous step down a path to moral relativism, situational ethics and the enfeebling of the will to fight the evil. from the washington times Naturally, in popular music, this formula was pared down quite a bit. Most music was still about love, but it had gone from “puppy love” to “serious” adult love to the concept of love as political activism, in a neo-Christian belief that if we embraced all people equally, peace would reign on earth.
While to anyone from the 1990s or later this concept is all but a punchline, at the time a less experienced society found it a welcome respite from the Cold War and the balance of power between two nuclear-tipped adversaries. In the vision of the music of the time, now labelled “classic rock,” a moralism of the individual could prevent the abuses of the past, and thus by process of elimination, have solved the problems of the future. Influence – [ Prog, Jazz ]
If one were to diagram the influences between metal and progressive rock, it would resemble a game of Pong more than anything else, as any idea one had would quickly influence the other, in part because early hard rock bands such as Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin had “virtuosity” and harmonically advanced music which put them in roughly the same league as bands such as King Crimson and Camel, mainstays of the progressive rock era. Hard rock bands didn’t tend to be as “weird” or venture as far from the conventionally accepted song format, as their audience was less art-school and more blue collar.
However, the influence occurred, and through prog rock was absorbed quite a bit of jazz and classical theory as well. (An influence also came from Roma guitar player Django Reinhardt, who like Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi was limited in motion to only two fingers on his fretboard hand. ) Period 3 [ 1970 – 1981 ] History – [ Futurism ] The world saw the postwar order of superpower rule fade as the failures of Vietnam and the cold war culminated in a lack of faith in previous ideologies.
The hippie generation, as an appeal to values inherent to the American political dialogue since the writing of the Declaration of Independence, was a culmination of internal stress in the democratic, neo-liberal, individualist political climate of America. While claiming ourselves to be liberators, detractors argued, we were shepherding our own third world with segregation of the oppressing and subjecting ourselves to a social order that put a monetary/political value on lifestyle, sex, and desire.
America – the great savior of Europe during World War II and the world policeman for commercial hegemony – confronted her own hypocrisy in the rice fields of Viet Nam and the crowded race riot kindling of America’s ghettoes. device for firing nuclear weapons at enemyIn chasing the symbols of peace, happiness, love and tranquility, the “youth counterculture” of the 1960s and 1970s embraced its oppressors and soon the peace sign became another icon of commercial culture.
In the absence of ideology behind the dissipating hippie movement, technological futurism without ideological structure mated the sensual lifestyles of the 1960s with the commercial values of the 1940s, leading to a vapid culture which quickly assimilated anything however rebellious into its stream of social entertainment. The unstoppable machine of basic commerce which had been untouched by the hippie revolution began to justify itself with morality while increasing the benefits of first world living. Free love became swinging, experimentation became a steady diet of drugs, and ideology turned into coffee table discussion.
By these mechanisms the 1970s became a futuristic decade, or one in which belief turned toward the future and technology as a savior where ideology had petered out, paving the way for a decade following which would affirm the industrial revolution as its own value system. During the 1980s, the only relevant symbols were monetary and social success, meaning a modern adaptation of the white picket house in the suburbs, the minivan, local church and school groups and happy children with no cares in the world. A decade of overextension and massive expenditure on cold war buildup shattered most of this and replaced it with a literal reality of ubservience, slowly flipping the power balance to a sublimated leftism. As the smiley futurism came to a close at the turn of the eighties it was clear the alienation was not an affliction but a condition of the system, and more extreme responses arose. Both the old-school conservative system and the hippie “revolution” had failed in their aims. In the mainstream, the previously “new left” leanings of our culture were overshadowed by the pragmatism of gaining money and power, and in the underground, a new series of dissidents found themselves in desperate paranoia against the industrial society slowly surrounding them.
Slowly, the pragmatic “eat and assert needs” conservativism of America flowered with Ronald Reagan, and the underground new left moved toward media and went mainstream to combat the money and power of old school interests. Metal – [ Heavy Metal ] Metal began in prototype form with Black Sabbath, whose trademark occultism symbolized life in terms of the eternal and ideal, while their gritty, sensual, lawless guitar gave significance to the immediate and real. The resulting fusion of the bohemian generation with a nihilistic, dark and morbid streak birthed early metal.
Those who had rejected the hippies and found no solace in social order embraced this music and lost bohemians everywhere began to find new directions in this sound. LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide-25 brought a newfound view of personal insignificance to western cultureHaving been thus born of the rock tradition early metal remained much within that framework, with dual lineages existing in Black Sabbath, the proto-metal architecturalists, and Led Zeppelin, the blues-folk-rock extravagantists.
While the 1970s struggled to develop further the innovations in rock between 1965-1969 the influences that hit metal were primarily from European progressive rock. These musicians used classical theory to give narrative context to themes which in the popular music style repeat through cycling short complementary phrases or riffs which center motives. This technique migrated classical styles adapted from acoustic guitar and espoused structure over total improvisation. As metal grew in the middle 1970s, its fragmented nature brought it both commercial success and hilarity as a retarded younger brother to rock.
The rock side coupled with trash rock bands and formed stadium metal, which was the apex of metal’s popularity and the nadir of its creativity, with bands being known for musical illiteracy, hedonistic excess and often mind-wrenching stupidity in interviews. These bands would come into full flower in the 1980s, but marked their territory well before the turn of the decade. On the other hand, however, some of the most dramatic growth in metal occurred when bands merged progressive leanings with desires for traditional solid, sing-along songs. enom defined the aesthetics of black metal for musicians to invent an appropriate genre to matchFrom this fork in the metal path came three greats whose influences cannot be underestimated, birthed in the early 1970s but becoming most dramatically influential in the 1980s: Judas Priest, Motorhead, and Iron Maiden. Each had musicians from a progressive background who added new ideas to rock and metal, whether the neoclassical guitar duo of K. K. Downing and Glen Tipton or the melodic basslines of Steve Harris of Iron Maiden.
Even Motorhead, the simplest and most basic of the three, wrote songs with a melodic baroque tendency that rivalled that of the Beatles, except without the flourishes and happy feelings. Bridging between psychedelic space rock like founder Lemmy Kilmister’s Hawkwind, aggressive punk and simplified metal-rock in the style of Blue Cheer, Motorhead sounded like a glass-gargling vagabond and an impromptu jail session band, but developed much of the technique and basic riff forms for the hybrid music to come.
The more obscure and threatening NWOBHM bands grew with the subgenre in the 1970s to oppose commercial slickness with direct and primal music. Angel Witch and Diamond Head and eventually Venom tore technique to its basics to get to the ballad-meets-firefight balance of rebel music. All of these fused the DIY attitude of punk bands with the epic nature of metal and created as a result music that was bold and far-reaching but accessible, both to fans and to those who would like to pick up their own instruments and emulate it. Art – [ Hedonism ] My purpose was always just to express myself,” he answers. “People are kidding themselves when they think music is going to change the world or enlighten people. It’s a bunch of hogwash. ” — Paul Stanley, Kiss nuclear launch console, a threat which influenced 1970s and 1980s heavy metal The 1970s brought an era between the peace love and happiness age and the more serious years to follow; as the Cold War intensified and the threat of ICBMs became more pronounced and definitive, the 1970s were privately a grim time of preparation for the worst and publically a time of vast hedonism.
Part of this existed because underneath the hopes of the last generation had been a vast despair, in knowing that force would solve what pleasant thoughts of peace and universal love could not; part of this occurred because the movements of the 1950s had run their course for a generation without finding anything new. Hippies were essentially Beats with a more artificially positive outlook, and rock’n’roll had run itself into redundancy, relying on extremity to make itself something other than mundane.
The result of this pursuing tangible heights in a void of actual belief was a profound hedonism. Casual sex reached the mainstream, as did drugs including more powerful variants of marijuana and cocaine. The futurism of a commercial society replaced ideas with lifestyles based on products, conspicuous consumption, and the Me generation at its most flagrant. The result was that most fell into mainstream lockstep, having absorbed the methods of the previous generation but lost its belief; the dissidents in art were hardcore punk, ambient and electronic music. Influence – [ Electronic, Ambient ]
From the public front, the Sex Pistols exemplified all that hardcore was: brash, loud, and in total nihilistic denial of almost all value (except curiously being anti-abortion, since even punk vocalists find it hard to shake past indoctrination). For every band that was a public face on punk however there were garage bands and hardcore bands which labored in obscurity, rarely recording much that survives to this day, in part because their attitude toward musicality was so dismissive that their one- and two-chord songs had few fans except those caught up in the cultural movement itself.
In ambient music, musicians such as Tangerine Dream and Robert Fripp probed a new form of spirituality in pieces that eschewed the obvious, tangible and quantifiable sounds of traditional rock instrumentation, preferring instead lengthy pieces which slowly developed through layers of atmosphere and contained a poetic content of revelation, much as classical pieces progress through motives to uncover an essential melody or inspiration.
They were echoed in this by electronic musicians such as Kraftwerk, who originated the genre when it was necessary to be able to manufacturer one’s own instruments, who used their classical training to make sublime pieces overlaid on top of minimal beats, reversing the trend toward more ornate percussion that had grown through rock and especially its progressive variant.
While these three exceptions existed, the rest of the world essentially anaesthesized itself, including most rock, metal, jazz and blues musicians, leading to a time of innovation in technical detail but loss of basic impetus. For this reason, hardcore punk changed the entire way sonic art was viewed, and electronic music took a subtle backseat while providing the groundwork for the next generation. Period 4 [ 1982 – 1987 ] History – [ Reactionarism ]
One defining aspect of the 1980s was the ascent of conservative leaders in the United States and Britain who favored building up large militaries and nuclear weapons stockpiles to counter those of the Soviet union; this was a reaction to the more passive eras previous which had hoped that love and later technological futurism could drive away the basic problem that faced humanity, namely two edgy superpowers ready to clobber each other with bombs that turned cities to glowing dust. The feeling was that the Cold War could drag on interminably, or could explode at any moment, and the West wanted to be ready for that eventuality. ocaine was used excessively during the most intensive moments of planning in the 1980s The result was a decade which outwardly tried to affirm all that the people in their 30s and 40s found meaningful, namely a white picket fence vision of America from the 1950s, and this boiled over into England and the world as a whole. It was a bracingly reactionary time, in which “Communist” was once again a career-threatening insult, and in which the Christian religion and the process of making money for oneself again became the way in which one’s social importance was reckoned.
Naturally, this provoked a resurrection of the Counterculture and its strongest incarnation yet, since it had been absorbed in the 1970s and, since popular opinion was close to its own values, had been assimilated. Now that it once again had something to rebel against, it manifested itself in a growing cadre of die-hard liberal specialist movements and alternative art, literature and music scenes, none of which produced anything enduring.
Metal – [ Speed Metal/Thrash ] Metal aged and so did the generation that produced the hippies, drifting into commercialdom and then self-hatred for losing sight of basic goals. Having lost both of their fundamental systems of iconography (traditional + hippie “revolution” and New Left) within a decade while most of the population remained ignorant to both, the youth of the 1960s and 1970s were more cynical and materialist as they aged than any previous group.
This awakened a scavenger coming to carcass in the 1980s which rolled into glorious rehash of the commercial ambition of the 1950s, leading to a wave of denial and an ever-present conformity in face of new fears: drugs, technological warfare, disease. A desperate paranoid climate emerged underneath the murmuring denial neurosis of commercial social doctrine. Ideology in popular music became an intense moral crusade of horror at the history of humanity to that point, hearkening back to WWI-era dissent.
In this environment, metal updated itself with the aggression and simplicity of hardcore, and came back for the attack in at first two hybrid genres: speed metal and thrash. tipper gore led a crusade against profanity and lewdness in heavy metal and rap throughout the 1980s only to hide it during the 1996 electionsSpeed metal took the classically-influenced structures of neoclassical progressive heavy metal from the 1970s and merged them with the palm-muted, choppy strum of violent British hardcore, as well as the whipping speed-strum of the more fluid crustcore genre.
An example of the first influence can be found in violently alienated bands like The Exploited and Black Flag, where the latter originated in Amebix and Discharge, who twisted three chords into a song where the guitar playing was fast but the drumming and vocal delivery slower, creating like ambient music a disorientation of pace and thus of activity. Thrash was crossover music based more in hardcore, so unlike speed metal, which added hardcore riff stylings to metal song forms, it added metal riff stylings to hardcore song forms.
Classic speed metal bands were Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, Slayer, Anthrax and Prong, but these were the largest and most commercial and many others existed concurrently. Thrash remained underground and lasted for less than a decade, thus it retained its primal trio of Cryptic Slaughter, the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and Corrosion of Conformity, although it is academically interestin to mention offshoots like Suicidal Tendencies and Fearless Iranians From Hell, both of which were more punk rock and rock’n’roll than the core of the thrash genre.
Although toward the end of the 1980s people began referring to bands like Destruction and Kreator as “thrash metal,” it makes more sense to identify them as essentially speed metal bands which borrowed attributes from thrash and nascent death metal bands. cliff burton taught many members of metallica music theory At one point praised by Robert Fripp for remaining apart from mainstream culture, these bands faced a growing divide in the music industry, namely the availability f cheaper recording technology (thanks to advances in digital and manufacturing ability) as well as, for the first time, the ability to press records and CDs in small runs, giving rise to a horde of smaller labels. While hardcore punk bands had maintained the DIY aspect for years, they were unwilling and unable to make any money doing so, but in the 1980s the ease of access to these technologies meant that small, independent (“indie”) labels could both publish ecclectic rarities and not go bankrupt in the process.
For youth growing up during this time period, life was an uncertain and duty-bound prospect, threatened on one side by ICBMs which could arrive in a matter of minutes and vaporize cities, and on another by a tide of reactionary politics and social conformity which forced people into norms to avoid the risk of standing out and being tacitly avoided by employers and potential social contacts alike. Speed metal and thrash bands, who were in the crux of generational exchange, experienced both worlds: the public image and the private reality, including political dissidence. ngel witch were a vanguard of new wave of british heavy metal structuralismTheir hardcoresque anthems of social and political dissent are leftist but even more so, “rejectivist. ” The world is pushed back and its mechanisms declared incompetent. Many began the slow spiral into fatalism, where either through belief in religious mechanisms behind historical growth or a lack of ability to apply their passion, lapsing into a hedonism of self-destructive principle.
The hedonistic attitudes and hail-satan paeans to deviant creativity evaporated as a politicized theory of what ought to be done, inherited both from hardcore punk and the surrounding public culture, seized metal. Songs were written about the evils of drugs, the mistreatment of American Indians, the oppression of minorities by a WASP majority, the desire for individualist independence from the conformist horde, and the abuse of our natural environment. At its inception a genre of palm-muted, Morse-codish riffs and epic song structures the speed metal of the 1980s held out until the 1990s before being absorbed.
Speed metal and “social consciousness” dimmed many fantasies; it had become as moralistic as both the conservative society and self-righteous countermovement against which 1969 metal had rebelled. This caused dissent among those who felt that both commercialism and this moralistic trend were absorbing the “free spirit” they had admired in the music previously, and that it was becoming predictable and self-destructive in its tendency to sound like everything else.
In contrast, electronic music was exploring increasingly existential themes and broader questions of intent, eschewing the moralistic humanism which overran speed metal and thrash. Q: What is its appeal to Laibach? Well, it’s very industrial, and formerly it was very innovative, especially techno music. It’s a very innovative practice, in the way of inventing a new form. The only real revolution which has happened inside of pop culture was for instance Kraftwerk.
They have actually formed a new language inside music; they could easily be treated as the last important German classical composers. And after Kraftwerk there was no other revolution inside music-yet. Everything was based on what had already been stated. It’s all based on the format of rock and roll. Rock and roll is a matter of something which originated in the Sixties and Fifties and it is not very original-it’s coming out from traditions of Gospel and Blues and that goes further into African roots, the roots of African music.
The only real revolutionary music was when they started to invent electronic instruments, that was in the Twenties. And computer music–Kraftwerk were the first ones to do it properly. Jesus Christ Superstars also features a very strong element of heavy metal. Heavy metal is a matter of genre. We don’t consider ourselves as huge innovators of styles, but we are using different genres to express different intentions which we have. Heavy metal is definitely a very authentic genre of popular culture and actually quite interesting changes are happening with heavy metal at the moment.
The fact is there’s not such a big a difference between heavy metal and electro-industrial music, or techno music, or basic industrial music, if you go back further. I think that lots of prejudices are on power, and that’s the biggest problem. Heavy metal does have its own concepts, its own logic and it works-it works very well for certain aspects of music. There’s not much difference between Metallic