Heavy metal has been around for several decades now, and is by far one of the greatest musical genres the world has seen.
1) It isn’t just a musical genre, it is an art form
Heavy metal isn’t just about the music, the art plays a very important role too. Without the album cover, heavy metal just wouldn’t be the same.
Would Iron Maiden’s albums be as good, without Eddie’s hijinks beautifully rendered on the front?
Would Ratt’s first albums be as fun without the awesome photography they had on the front?
Not a chance.
Heavy metal brings together art and photography in a way that other genres just don’t match.
2) Metal musicians write their own songs
Now, admittedly, some metal songs are total trash, and have the intelligence of a wet puddle, but there are plenty of metal songs with intelligent, thought provoking lyrics, songs that tell a great story (whether historical or personal), and songs that really reach into the depths of your soul and connect with you.
And these songs are usually written by a handful of people at most.
Compare this to pop songs that have 20 or more writers on them… and end up with one word repeating over and over. Most pop writing goes into the top line and the arrangement, but you would have thought making the lyrics more intelligent wouldn’t be too difficult.
Not so with heavy metal. Heavy metal bands will write songs in one of three ways:
- One person writes 90% – 100% of the material, and other band members make contributions to songs. I think this is how Nightwish write a lot of their songs.
- One person might do the top-line and lyrics, another does the instrumentation.
- Each band member contributes their own songs. Iron Maiden do this, with Steve Harris doing a lot of the writing and other members contributing songs.
No 20 person writing teams like you get on a pop record. You might find the producer helps edit and tidy the song up, which is one of the vital roles of the producer, but metal musicians write their own music.
3) Metal musicians are skilled
I’m sure by now most metal fans have seen *that* video of Lil’ Wayne ‘playing’ guitar, and doing a horrific job of it.
He played that disgustingly bad solo infront of 1000s of people.
Can you imagine what would happen if a metal band did that? The arena would be torn down. The heavy metal media would be lynching them for weeks.
Metal musicians at the top of the game are highly skilled, and the only genre that rivals this is classical music – their musicians, overall, are the most skilled in the world.
(If you want to prove this, hire a classical musician to do some studio work for you, and prepare to cry and go home to your metronome for a year)
I think that metal and classical music has an enormous amount of crossover, but that is a post for another day.
Heavy metal is complex. It’s fast – you have to stay in time. Not only do you have to stay in time, but you have to put on a show – no-one wants to watch a band mope around on stage staring at their shoes.
It’s dangerous. If you play a big show with pyro… and you’re in the wrong place and the wrong time, you’re going to end up being crispier than a well cooked piece of bacon.
There can be complicated time signatures and key changes to deal with in a song.
It takes years and years of practice, practice and more practice to be able to play metal.
4) It takes years for metal musicians to hone their craft
It takes years of practising their instrument.
It takes years of writing songs to get good at it.
It takes practice to get the hang of playing tight together.
It takes dozens and dozens of shows to get the hang of playing to an audience.
Metal musicians work.
5) Heavy metal fans make the music
Heavy metal fans are awesome, and without the fans, the music just wouldn’t be the same.
When you’re at a small show or a great metal bar, you’re always going to find people you can talk to , or have a beer with.
You instantly know you have something (probably a lot) in common with the other people there.
The fans and the bands come together to create a culture, for some people an entire lifestyle, around the music.
Bloodstock Open Air, Hellfest, Wacken Open Air; these festivals are awesome.
Awesome bands, great beer, huge stages and the festivals always bring something special.
Having so many people in one place does have its downsides, but it is also a great experience, which is why metalheads go back to festivals year after year, and why some festivals have started selling out of tickets months in advance.
Metal is everywhere. You can goto almost anywhere in the world, and find a cool metal bar or venue to goto.
You can even plan an entire trip across Europe with great metal bars to goto.
Or spend a summer going to heavy metal festivals in Europe. I met a woman from Panama a while ago, who had flown to Europe to spend the summer travelling around festivals. That’s a pretty awesome way to spend a summer.