Lawrence Parlier

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Posted by [email protected] on November 29, 2013 at 7:40 PM

 

Reflecting on the Hard Luck Muse: A History in Metal- Guest Blogger-Lawrence Parlier

11/04/2013

Heavy metal got its start in 1968 when Steppenwolf uttered the urge for “heavy metal thunder.” The term is a reflection of a William Burroughs’ character from the novel The Soft Machine: Uranium Willie, the Heavy Metal Kid.

The British quickly came to embody the sound of heavy metal. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and most importantly, Black Sabbath, set the parameters for what heavy metal music should be. In America bands such as Alice Cooper, The MC-5, and Blue Cheer pushed the limits in terms of sheer bombast and the theater of a concert experience.

 

Little by little bands adopted the heavy metal mantle and bands such as Judas Priest, Rainbow and Motorhead set the pace for metal during the 70’s. Their sound moved further away from the blues influence and re-defined the heavy sound. By the the late 70’s heavy metal exploded. Bands from all over the world got into the game as the genre took deep root in youth culture. Metal was becoming a global community and moving quickly into the spotlight.
By the early 80’s metal was king. Groups such as The Scorpions, Thin Lizzy, and Ozzy Osbourne’s solo group were selling out arenas world-wide. In Los Angeles, the glam metal of the Sunset Strip scene debuted in the guise of Motley Crue. Metal, in its swiftly varying forms, emerged from San Francisco’s Metallica to New York’s Anthrax and all points in between.
By 1990 heavy metal, as an entity, was the largest selling concert and merchandising draw of all genres of music. Metal had turned into big business and everyone wanted a piece of the pie, but the music slowly became diluted through the growing interference of commerce. Metal collapsed under the weight of its own growing hubris and fell away to grunge.
While being down, it was far from being out. During the the mid-90’s metal re-grouped in the underground. Only the purists remained. After the fall, all of the posers had been shaken loose. Now was the time of Korn and Coal Chamber, while White Zombie raged out of New York City. Tool wove a glorious mystery in their chosen anonymity. Metal was on the rise again in a tempered, purer form.
Into the new century, metal has survived and thrived in the music of Slipknot, Mudvayne and Mastodon, and in a thousand heavy bands working across the country. While metal does not enjoy the sales that it once did, the fan base is solid and the support remains. The community is much tighter now since the fall from the bandwagon. For all of metal's wild and varied incarnations, one question remains….What is metal? What is it about the music that inspires such rabid enthusiasm? The secret of heavy metal lies in its power.

The power is in its music. The power is in its voice. Metal’s power lies in its ability to enchant the disenchanted, to make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger. Its power is in its unity, its message is that we all belong. Metal is a haven for the disenfranchised and for those living on the edge. It gives solace to the disquieted and grants the meek a voice. It offers an escape from the incessant mire of a world gone mad and soothes a weary soul. It is a panacea for the afflicted.
Heavy metal concerts are a cathartic experience. Ones aggression and stress are channeled in a healthy atmosphere and you are released back into the world with a slightly lightened load. It is more of a religious experience than entertainment. The response to the music is visceral. There is something in the DNA of our tribal past that identifies with and creates the rhythms therein.

More of oneself is invested in the connection to the music and, thus, more is gained. Metal is about personal virtuosity and good old fashioned rebellion. It begs you to think for yourself and to stand for what you believe in. So, you can say what you will about the music, but its principles are beyond reproach.

 

 

 

Lawrence Parlier's List of Top 20 Genre Defining Metal Songs

Billion Dollar Babies-Alice Cooper

Space Truckin-Deep Purple

Hand of Doom-Black Sabbath

Gates of Babylon-Rainbow

Ace of Spades-Motorhead

You Got Another Thing Coming-Judas Priest

Believer-Ozzy Osbourne

Too Young to Fall in Love-Motley Crue

Phantom Lord-Metallica

Wasted Years-Iron Maiden

Skullcrusher-Overkill

Angel of Death-Slayer

Hanger 18-Megadeth

Hall of the Mountain King-Savatage

WTPMF-White Zombie

46 and 2-Tool

Freak on a Leash-Korn

The Heretic Song-Slipknot

Tourniquet-Evanescence

Oblivion-Mastodon

 

 

 

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