Everyone is pretty familiar with the often satirized image of heavy metal. Speedy beat, strong electronic guitar riffs, and an over-emphasis on volume. As far as its name goes, some have attributed it to the works of William S. Burroughs, but most will say the origin lies in Steppenwolf’s classic song “Born To Be Wild” in a verse that said “Heavy Metal Thunder”.
Metal’s style began with groups like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Some say Jimi Hendrix was one of the greatest Heavy Metal influences, due to his out-of-control use of the guitar. Heavy Metal groups would get a wide range of sounds and electronic distortions out of the electric guitar. It wasn’t long before there were bands such as Deep Purple, Ozzy Osborne, and Judas Priest who would do this exclusively.
Metal bands were usually not seen on the pop charts, but there were those such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Pantera (who’s album, Far Beyond Driven, debut on number 1 on the US Billboard charts – a chart for all genres including Pop, Rap and RnB) that had no trouble with gathering new followers. However, certain bands of the 1980s swept the world with their stadium-packing stage shows, big curly hair, and colorful clothes. Motley Crue, Poison, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi had great crossover appeal and had a long life on mainstream pop stations. A decade later, these groups would be considered sell-outs and passé.
The metal culture and clothing is quite similar to punk. Sometimes white make-up is applied, as well the big, out-of-control hair. The stereotypical clothing generally consists of a black T-shirt from a metal band concert and jeans.
Heavy Metal lyrics usually don’t hold back on saying that the world is not a nice place, and often do not give any hope. Rock and roll has received much criticism from Christian and conservative groups who say that the message is that of the devil, but they are nothing compared to the feelings stirred up by Heavy Metal.