Heavy Metal Roots

Metal band This is a Castle 
Photo courtesy of Josh Taylor

Metal band “This is a Castle” Photo courtesy of Josh Taylor

Devin Jones, Head of Media and Photography

Everyone has heard about metal – that genre of music with loud guitars, fast drums, and lots of screaming. With all the subgenres under the protective wing of metal, one has to wonder where it came from and where it is going in the future.

There has been plenty of controversy over where metal, which is commonly referred to as “Heavy Metal,” originated. Some have argued that the first true “metal” bands were bands like Iron Maiden, Led Zepplin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath because they were some of the first bands to kickstart the metal genre into mainstream music. Another side of the argument is that metal holds its roots in the blues rock because of its powerfully deep rhythms, hard rock because of its singing style, and punk rock because of the speed of the drums and guitar. This is also because of bands like Motörhead who use a more fast paced style of play emphasized with lots of extended guitar solos and quick drum beats. Yet, others claim that metal has historic ties to warrior and barbaric tribes or raiders, such as the vikings, who used string instruments that were similar to the guitar (which were tuned for a lower sound) drums, and fierce lyrics to inspire raiders and warriors into battle. Regardless of where the metal genre started, it is hard to argue that metal has plenty of history behind it.

But the real question is not where metal originated, but where it is headed. With technological advances coming up fast and different bands finding new, creative ways to utilize it, there is no telling where the metal genre may go. With the numerous subgenres of metal, such a post-hardcore, power metal, folk metal, digital hardcore, rap metal, and other styles being developed seemingly overnight, it makes it very difficult to tell where metal as a genre is headed. Bands like Enter Shikari have taken advantage of computerized music production programs and used them to add a techno undertone to their music, mixed with a feel of dubstep, plenty of screaming, guitar solos, and the double foot pedals that metal fans love. There are also plenty of metal bands featuring an older style of metal similar to that of the metal founders, showing that even the older styles of metal have no intention of being left behind. Even the oddest of the odd genres of metal, like the viking metal band Bathory and the pirate metal band Alestorm, have their dedicated followers and show no sign of fading away in the near future.

As many metal fans say, metal is the type of genre that is an acquired taste, meaning that it isn’t something that you can pick up and get into right off the bat. Many metal fans started out as casual rock fans, then moved on to more hardcore styles like hard rock or grunge, then found themselves listening to a heavy metal album and saying to themselves, “Now this is something that I like!” It is because of this  that metal is something that is going to stay. Once you find yourself liking metal, it is hard to stop and, the genre survives. Metal is going to continue to develop new styles, adaptations, and lyrical content throughout the years and, despite what the death metal singers preach, live to see another day.