Heavy Metal Achieves Total World Domination
Heavy metal has been pounding eardrums around the world since the back end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies. Pioneering UK heavy metal bands included Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zepplin while the USA produced Alice Cooper and the metal godfather himself, Jimi Hendrix. Since then, heavy metal has gone for total world domination and everywhere from Japan to Chile harbours metal fans.
Characterised by pounding beats, deep bass and distorted guitars, heavy metal has spawned many sub-genres over the last few decades. But for good old-fashioned heavy metal, the headbanging accolade of the eighties surely belongs to the likes of Motörhead, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Rush and Judas Priest.
On the lighter side of things, the early eighties saw the beginnings of glam rock. The rise of artists like David Bowie, T-Rex, Sweet and Queen had a major influence on new glam metal bands like Twisted Sister, Kiss and Aerosmith. The mid to late eighties saw a massive growth in hair metal bands like Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses. You didn’t necessarily have to be pretty to work in a glam metal band, but you certainly had to have nice hair, and plenty of it.
Heavy metal is nothing if not well balanced, and from the dark shadows of the eighties dawned a clutch of more extreme heavy metal bands including genres like black, death, thrash and speed metal. To provide even louder, faster and more intense drumming, drum kits became more extreme and started to take up more and more space on stage. And no heavy metal band worth its salt could be seen dead without double bass drums.
It’s impossible to categorise most heavy metal bands properly because they cross so many boundaries. But one band, Venom, exemplified black, death, thrash and speed metal – they were also rightly famous for their mind bending volume. In a similar vein to Venom, black and death metal bands like Possessed, Celtic Frost and Hellhammer explored new depths of dark lyrical material, often focusing on death and satanic issues.
Emerging thrash metal bands like Onslaught, Slayer and Anthrax went for the jugular with their aggressive sounds. And ultrafast bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Helloween brought in breakneck speed metal, often showcasing mind blowing guitar solos – not to mention the legendary bass guitar solo, Pulling Teeth, by Metallica’s late, great Cliff Burton.