Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Heavy Metal & Me

Heavy Metal music and I have a long storied history.  It starts of course with my Uncle Bob and Cousin Steve.  They introduced me to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and a lot of heavy hard rock.  This all happened to a 7 year old me.  Except for Black Sabbath many of those bands are not considered true Heavy Metal.  The foundation for what came later was made.  I enjoyed hard rock in all its permutations.  By the age twelve I had some favorite bands: Led Zeppelin, Queen, Heart, Ted Nugent, AC/DC, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, and Rush.  Many are still not considered true Heavy Metal, but you can see the trend.  What resonated with me was the shear power of the music.  It permeated ever bit of my being.  Much of the themes of alienation and disenfranchisement sung to me as a pre-teen.

Growing up in my neighborhood in Oxnard, California in the early eighties us hard rock/ Heavy Metal kids would trade our records (real old school vinyl) and tape what we did not have.  Hell, we even raided our parents 70’s and 60’s collections.  I introduced Janis Joplin to many a Metal kid in those days.  In early 1981, I was introduced to Judas Priest, AC/DC, Rainbow, Rush, Ronnie James Dio, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne, Saxon, Motorhead, and Van Halen.  I got in trouble when I first saw a picture of Rob Halford; I mentioned he looked like a gay biker dude like the guy in Village People.  My arm was sore after that.  I was in a Pentecostal Junior High from 1981 to June of 1982.  That was my initial introduction to what would be considered to be true Heavy Metal.  There was still this weird vague idea what was Heavy Metal, some considered many hard rock acts Metal others did not.  This was a very amorphous time for the style.

In the Summer of 83 Heavy Metal as we knew it exploded. This was when Quiet Riot released their first U.S. Album, Def Leppard released Pyromania, and Iron Maiden released Piece of Mind.  Piece of Mind was not the huge album that the previous year’s Number of the Beast, but it was proof that this iteration of the band was not a flash in the pan with songs like Trooper, Flight of Icarus, and Where Eagles Dare. This was also the advent of Metal hitting the charts.  It was everywhere in Southern California.  That was the epicenter of the U.S. part of this musical movement.  Glam metal started to make its rounds. At 14 and 15 I was not impressed.  I was introduced to Motley Crue’s first album.  I thought musically they were OK, their whole made up look and feather hair did not do anything for me.  At this time Metallica, Anthrax and other Thrash/ Speed Metal bands were making their early albums.

Through the next few years I started to drift away from the pop Metal bands towards the Classic Hard Rock acts, Hardcore Punk and Thrash/ Speed Metal.  Suicidal Tendencies, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, and the Cult were putting out albums that spoke to me during the mid to late eighties.  I was drifting away from Heavy Metal in my Twenties, so were the bands.  Living in the Portland, Oregon area at the time we were hearing rumbling of new bands with a hard heavy sound reminiscent of Deep Purple and early Black Sabbath with a punk ethic.  These bands were Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Mother Love Bone and Nirvana.  This new sound would be called the Seattle Sound or Grunge.  They were more concerned with the music and less with image.  The Metal scene had become style over substance.  The Thrash/ Speed Metal scene was becoming more mainstream and losing some of its edge at this time.

During the early to mid nineties Grunge and later Alternative became the creative wellspring for Heavy Music.  Alternative was not so much a style than a philosophy of being alternative to the corporate music machine.  As always many of the acts became part of that machine. Heavy music did make a comeback with acts like Ministry, White Zombie, Korn, Rage against the Machine, Offspring, Clutch, Disturbed, Godsmack, Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age, and others.  By the early 2000’s I was not into Heavy Metal or its various offshoots anymore, or at least newer acts.  I still listen to older acts with newer material.  Once and a while I will find a new Metal or Hard Rock act I like, for example Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang or the Pirate Metal band Alestorm.  In general I am no longer in that scene, it really is a younger man’s game.  So I will let them have it. 

Here is a list of Heavy Metal/ Hard Rock Acts I think people should check out (this is based on my own personal tastes):  Accept, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Airbourne, Aldo Nova, Alestorm, Alice Cooper, Alice in Chains, Andrew W.K. Anthrax, Audioslave, Autograph, Billy Idol (more punk and new wave), Black Sabbath, Blitzkrieg, Blue Cheer, Cheap Trick, Clutch, The Cult, Danzig, The Darkness, David Lee Roth, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, Diamond Head, Dio, Dream Theater, Eagles of Death Metal, Extreme, Faith No More, Fastway, Godsmack, Great White, Green Jello/ Jelly, Guns N’ Roses, Hanoi Rocks, Heart, Helmet, The Hives, Iggy Pop/ Iggy Pop and the Stooges/ Stooges, Infectious Grooves, Iron Butterfly, Iron Maiden, Jet, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Judas Priest, King Crimson, The Kinks, Kiss,  Korn, Krokus, L.A. Guns, Led Zeppelin, Living Color, MC5, Megadeth, Metallica, Metal Church, Michael Schenker Group/ McAuley Schenker Group, Ministry, M.O.D., Monster Magnet, Montrose, Mother Love Bone, Motorhead, Mudhoney Nirvana, Offspring, Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Pat Benatar, Powerman 5000, Primus, Probot, Queen, Queensryche, Queens of the Stone Age, Quiet Riot, Rage Against the Machine, Rainbow, Rammstein, Ratt, Red Fang, Rob Zombie/ White Zombie, Rush, Sammy Hagar, Savatage, Saxon, Scatterbrain, Sepultura, Slayer, Scorpions, Screaming Trees, Silverchair, Skindred, Slipknot, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Spinal Tap, Steppenwolf, Steve Vai, Stone Temple Pilots, Stormtroopers of Death, The Strokes, System of a Down, Suicidal Tendencies, Ted Nugent, Temple of the Dog, Tesla, Testament, Thin Lizzy, Triumph, Uriah Heep, Van Halen, Velvet Revolver, Wednesday 13, White Stripes, Whitesnake, Wolfmother, Y & T, Zebra.  This is by no means a comprehensive list just my personal favorites or ones I feel are historically important.  There are a few omissions.  Those are acts I personally do not care for to the extreme.  This Is My Not So Humble Opinion.

1 comment:

  1. Every time I look back at my own musical tastes growing up . . . it's . . . well . . . an odd journey for me. When I first started choosing and buying my own music, I started with "Weird Al" Yankovic, then went to rap music, then film soundtracks, a brief dabbling with Guns N Roses, then back to film scores, and now I'm a mess of weird musical tastes. I didn't have the background with metal that you did, but I do see some similarities between your growing up with metal and my own growing up w/ rap.

    Oh, I'm a HUGE fan of Iron Maiden now (and I have Rock Band to thank for that!).

    (Oh, and thanks to your blog, I went and looked up Red Fang. I dug the music videos I've seen so far . . . !)