Who started with metal?

Heavy metal

The band "Judas Priest" on stage. They shaped the development of heavy metal with their music very much. Leather clothing also became a model for many others.
Ronnie James Dio from the USA became known as a singer in various bands. The sign of what he does, the horned hand, is a pose that has often been used as a symbol for heavy metal or hard rock since him.

Heavy metal, in other words: Häwwi Mättel, is a style of music that comes from rock music. Like many other styles of music, it has changed over time and many different styles of metal have formed. One speaks here of subgenres, in other words: sub-schongre. When you say Heavy Metal, you usually mean the original Heavy Metal from the early days. The subgenres are mostly just referred to as "Metal".

We don't really know where the name Heavy Metal comes from. In any case, the genre of music originated in Great Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. Many early heavy metal musicians came from the English city of Birmingham. A lot of steel was produced there at the time. Heavy metal is the English word for "heavy metal". Some believe that Birmingham's heavy industry is the reason for the name. Others say it comes from a song by the band “Steppenwolf”.

A lot of people say that heavy metal is just shouting and playing the guitar loudly. However, this is not the case for most of heavy metal music. British Heavy Metal from the 1980s in particular was very melodic and produced some very good singers such as Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio. Many heavy metal pieces are difficult to play for guitarists too.

Well-known heavy metal bands are for example "Iron Maiden", "Judas Priest", "Metallica" or "Megadeth". From the 21st century, for example, “Avenged Sevenfold”, “System of a Down” or “Slipknot” are worth mentioning.

  • Tony Iommi was a huge influence on heavy metal. He is also called the "father of heavy metal".

  • Amy Lee sings with the band "Evanescence".

  • The band "Lordi" won the Eurovision Song Contest for Finland with their crazy costumes and "Hard Rock Hallelujah".

What is special about heavy metal?

A metal drummer like Mike Portnoy has a lot to do and, as you can see, they have a very large drum kit for it.

The distinction between hard rock music or punk rock and heavy metal is not so easy, especially with bands from the early days. Basically, Heavy Metal and its later sub-genres is a particularly hard and loud, sometimes aggressive variety of rock music.

Over time, however, some things have developed that are characteristic of Heavy Metal. Most pieces consist of at least one guitar riff. The riff is a kind of guitar melody that repeats itself over and over again. Heavy metal has adopted the so-called power chords from punk and hard rock: These are special chords on three guitar strings that sound particularly hard and rocky.

Just about every heavy metal piece has a guitar solo, sometimes several. It's in the middle or at the end of the piece. In this solo, guitar, bass, and drums just play the rhythm of the piece. Above it, the solo guitarist plays a mostly very high and fast melody. Such solos are very difficult because the guitarist has to move his fingers very quickly on the guitar's fingerboard. Most heavy metal bands have two guitarists, one for riff and rhythm and one for riff and solo.

The lyrics in heavy metal are very different. They are seldom about love, more often about other things. Some heavy metal lyrics are about situations from the life of the musicians. They are then often related to the culture of motorcyclists. Often there are also references to legends, films, books or events from history. For example, there is a song by "Iron Maiden", which tells the life story of Alexander the Great.

How did heavy metal develop?

"Metallica", one of the most famous heavy metal bands, at a concert in London.

You can't say exactly who invented heavy metal and when exactly it started. But important influences were the three British hard rock bands "Led Zeppelin", "Deep Purple" and "Black Sabbath". They were very successful in the early 1970s with a very tough variety of rock music. They too have had many guitar riffs and solos in their music.

In the years that followed, more and more bands went in this direction. The most famous today were "Judas Priest" and "Motörhead". They were a bit tougher than the three before, that's why they were often called the first heavy metal bands next to "Black Sabbath". Neither “Black Sabbath” nor “Motörhead” refer to their music as heavy metal.

In the early 1980s, heavy metal became popular with a great many people. Back then it offered a contrast to the very electro-heavy rock and pop music. At that time, many new heavy metal bands were emerging in the UK. One speaks here of the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal", the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal". The best known of these bands are "Iron Maiden" and "Def Leppard".

A little later, heavy metal bands also emerged in the USA. Here, however, the styles were already divided: On the one hand there were the rather harder Thrash Metal bands "Metallica", "Megadeth", "Slayer" or "Anthrax", on the other hand the somewhat softer "Glam Metal" -Bands like "Mötley Crüe" or "Guns N 'Roses". They were more oriented towards pop music. Some were disparagingly called "Hair Metal" because of their eye-catching long hairstyles.

Heavy metal lost some of its attention in the 1990s because grunge music, i.e. grandsch music, became very popular. The established bands continued to be successful. It wasn't until the late 1990s and early 2000s that metal began to take off again. At that time, many new sub-genres developed.

What new subspecies of heavy metal are there?

Avenged Sevenfold's Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates are a great example of a metal guitar duo. One plays rhythm and riff, the other plays the riff with and in between the solo. Flames, like here in the background, are often used as a show element at metal concerts.

One of these subgenres is Nu-Metal. Here metal is combined with hip-hop and electro. Well-known Nu-Metal bands are "Slipknot", "Korn" or "Linkin Park". There is also power metal. This sub-genre was influenced by early British heavy metal. It's very melodic, the vocals are often artistic, and the guitar solos are long and demanding. A well-known power metal band is, for example, “Avenged Sevenfold”.

Heavy metal and progressive rock also developed into progressive metal and symphonic metal in the 1990s. The music here is very artistic and complicated, it often sounds like an opera. There are additional keyboards and string instruments and very demanding and fast guitar solos. Well-known progressive metal bands are for example "Tool" or "Dream Theater".

Other well-known sub-genres of metal are death metal, extreme metal or black metal. They emerged from Thrash Metal and some representatives of the "New Wave", such as "Venom". There is actually a lot of shouting and loud shredding on the guitar. In addition, the lyrics are often brutal and provocative. For example, many bands of this style present themselves as followers of Satan. A lot of people think of this type of Metal first and therefore have prejudices. But with that they do the whole heavy metal injustice.


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