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Metal 101

May 14, 2014

This last week's show was a special one, if you tuned in! I had a good DJ friend of mine, who goes by the name of Pepper, come in and learn all about this wonderful genre of music. She said she has a sister who's super into metal, and wanted to know more about the genre so that she could relate a little better. I figured it was as good an excuse as any to do a sort of "Metal 101," covering the very basics of the genre. If you're a trve cvlt metalhead who knows every nook and cranny of the scene, well, I apologize, because you probably got subjected to a lot of basic bands and songs you've heard a thousand times before. But this was not the show for me to go totally obscure, and I still tried to keep the music totally kickass, even if it wasn't all blackened progressive melodic death-thrash from obscure Indiana bands with 23 likes on facebook. I'll try to get back to that soon. =]

Anyways, the show was hella fun, and I especially love having co-hosts to chat with on-air. One thing Pepper had a lot of trouble with, and I know other people do to, is wrapping their heads around all the crazy subgenres in metal and how they relate. If you're a visual learner, here's a great resource to help make sense of stuff! It's not perfect, but it's beautifully designed, covers a lot of ground, and has listening examples to help you associate each genre with a particular sound. http://mapofmetal.com/#/home

Instead of doing a track of the week this week, I'm going to modify the playlist with some more information, namely what genre each band represents, why I chose to represent it, etc, etc. So here we go!

 

Set 1: Jumping Off Points (Classic Metal 1)

Black Sabbath “Sweet Leaf” from Master of Reality on Universal Music Group International

We had to start somewhere, and Sabbath is about the best starting point. Heavy, low, and slow riffing and occult themes start to separate metal from hard rock.

Genres: Heavy Metal, Doom, Stoner, Sludge, everything

Stems from: Psychedelic Rock, Blues Rock

Led Zeppelin “ROCK and ROLL” from Led Zeppelin IV (Remastered) on Atlantic Records

While Sabbath started defining heavy metal, Led Zeppelin kept the hard rock side of things moving with up-tempo, riff-driven energy.

Genres: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Blues Rock, Folk Rock

Stems from: Psychedelic Rock, Blues Rock, British Invasion


Set 2: Mid-late 70's (Classic Metal 2)

MOTORHEAD “FIRE FIRE” from Ace Of Spades on Sanctuary Records

Motorhead took rock 'n roll and added a heavy dash of punk energy and rawness. The first inklings of punk's connection with heavy metal, to be continued throughout its history.

Genres: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Speed Metal

Stems from: Rock 'n Roll, Punk, Heavy Metal

JUDAS PRIEST “Breaking The Law” from British Steel on Columbia

Before becoming NWOBHM titans, Priest was a metal band starting to push tempos, melodies and technicality up a notch.

Genres: Heavy Metal, New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM)

Stems from: Heavy Metal, Hard rock

 

Set 3: 80's melodic metal (NWOBHM, 80's heavy metal)

Iron Maiden “RUN TO THE HILLS” from The Number of the Beast on Sanctuary

Iron Maiden is the quintessential NWOBHM band. Dual guitar leads, operatic vocals, proggy song structures and punk tempos make them metal gods to this day.

Genres: New Wave of British Heavy Metal

Stems from: 70's Heavy Metal, Punk, Prog Rock, Classical

Ozzy Osbourne “Over the Mountain” from Diary of a Madman on CBS/Jet

Not NWOBHM, but Ozzy Osbourne (of Black Sabbath)'s solo output may very well define what standard 80's Heavy Metal sounded like. Melodic and heavy, but rawer and more straightforward than NWOBHM.

Genres: Heavy Metal

Stems from: 70's Heavy Metal


Set 4: Melodic Metal Extremes (Power Metal, Hair Metal)

Stratovarius “SPEED OF LIGHT” from Episode on Sanctuary

Power metal is the logical endgame of NWOBHM. Taking all the elements of that genre and pumping them to extremes, the genre is fast, technical, melodic, and more than a little bit lovable cheesy.

Genres: Power Metal, Prog Metal, Neo-Classical Metal

Stems from: NWOBHM, Prog Rock, Classical

Mötley Crüe “KICKSTART MY HEART” from Dr. Feelgood on EMI Mexico

Hair Metal took the very basics of NWOBHM and Heavy Metal (the melody, the heavy riffing, the intense soloing) and brought it back to hard-rock basics, adding more (questionable) style, more fun, and less complexity. Poppy, Shallow, immensely entertaining, this is the dominant metal genre of the mid-late 80's.

Genres: Hair/Glam/Pop Metal, Hard Rock

Stems from: NWOBHM, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock


Set 5: Entering the Underground (Speed Metal/Thrash Metal 1)

Accept “Fast As a Shark” from Restless and Wild on Vertigo/Capitol

Often seen as the definitive Speed Metal song. Took metal in a heavier, lower, and even faster direction, but still retaining the melody and guitar leads from NWOBHM.

Genres: Speed Metal

Stems from: NWOBHM, Punk

Metallica “Battery” from Master of Puppets on Vertigo

Often made fun of nowadays, Metallica was one of the most vital metal bands of the 80's, and a huge influence on almost all metal as we know it. Took speed metal and threw away most of the melodic remnants of NWOBHM to create Thrash. This dirty, punky, fast and technical genre is the jumping off point for almost all extreme metal to follow.

Genres: Thrash Metal

Stems from: Speed Metal, Punk


Set 6: Extreme Metal (Thrash Metal 2, Death Metal 1)

Slayer “Altar Of Sacrifice” from Reign In Blood on American Recordings Catalog P&D

Slayer is the heaviest and least accessible of the mainstream 80's thrash bands. Faster, more dissonant, satanic, and with an absense of melodic vocals, Slayer helped set the stage for Death and Black metal bands to come.

Genres: Thrash Metal, Speed Metal, Death Metal

Stems from: Speed Metal, punk

Death “Pull The Plug” from Leprosy on Relapse Records

Vocalist/Guitarist/Songwriter Chuck Schuldiner is often called the father of death metal, for providing the "growls" synonymous with the genre. Took thrash metal and played it with even less regard for traditional melody, song structure, and accessibility.

Genres: Death Metal

Stems from: Thrash Metal


Set 7: Death Metal Split (Death Metal 2)

Cannibal Corpse “Hammer Smashed Face” from Tomb of the Mutilated on Metal Blade Records

In the early 90's, Death Metal split, with American bands going heavier, lower-tuned, more violent, and less comprehensible to create the idea of "Brutal" death metal. Cannibal Corpse sing their hyper-violent lyrics as a joke, but they're still one of the most influential and important brutal death metal bands.

Genres: Brutal Death Metal, Old-School Death Metal

Stems from: Death Metal

At The Gates “Slaughter Of The Soul” from Slaughter of the Soul on Earache Records

In contrash, Scandanavian (especially Swedish) bands started taking Death Metal, and adding back in elements of NWOBHM, specially more melodic guitar leads and consonant chord progressions. At the Gates is one of the forebearers of this style of "Melodic" death metal.

Genres: Melodic Death Metal

Stems from: Death Metal, NWOBHM


Set 8: Black Metal (Black Metal)

Emperor “The Majesty of the Night Sky” from In the Nightside Eclipse on CANDLELIGHT/TANGLADE

Black Metal remains one of the most infamous metal subgenres. Originating entirely in Scandanavia, the genre has gained a reputation for violence and (sometimes) white supremecism due to the early community's propensity for violence, isolationism, macabre rituals, and church-burning. Aside from a select few artists, however, the genre's mythos and visual trappings are either ignored or used only for show.

Genres: Black Metal, Symphonic Black Metal

Stems from: Thrash Metal, Death Metal

Immortal “A Sign for the Norse Hordes to Ride” from Pure Holocaust on Osmose Productions

Black Metal took the fast riffing of death and thrash bands and made the whole thing more atmospheric and expansive. More about crafting chaotic walls of noise than memorable riffs, Black Metal remains incredibly inaccessible, yet oddly serves as a metal entry-point for people with backgrounds in noise, folk, and post-rock.

Genres: Black Metal, Thrash Metal

Stems from: Thrash Metal, Death Metal


Set 9: 90's trends (Groove Metal, Nu-Metal)

Pantera “Cowboys From Hell” from Cowboys from Hell on Rhino

With the rise of Grunge in the early 90's, mainstream metal appeared to be dead. Yet Pantera brought it back. Their patented style of "groove metal" took thrash and death metal heaviness, but played at slower speeds and with a touch more bluesiness. 

Genres: Groove Metal

Stems from: Thrash Metal, Death Metal

Korn “Blind” from Korn

Possibly the most divisive genre in recent history, Nu-metal was actually a vital and innovative style of music before devolving into generic radio bro-rock in the late 90's/early 2000's. Despite some problematic trappings, Korn were musical innovators in combining the heaviness of death metal with the noise and syncopation of hip hop and funk. 

Genres: Nu-Metal, Alternative Metal

Stems from: Groove Metal, Funk, Funk Metal, Death Metal, Hip-Hop, Alternative Metal


Set 10: The New Millenium 1 (Metalcore, NWOAHM 1)

ALL THAT REMAINS “This Calling” from The Fall of Ideals on Prosthetic/Razor & Tie

Metalcore is, strictly speaking, the combination of metal and hardcore punk, and started in the late 80's/early 90's. However, it is most commonly associated with the early 2000's trend of combining Melodic Death Metal riffs with post-hardcore's combination of screamed and sung vocals and hardcore punk/groove metal "breakdowns," a common trend where a band plays a heavy (often single-note) riff in half-time, meant for moshing.

Genres: Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal

Stems from: Melodic Death Metal, Post-Hardcore, Hardcore, groove metal

Lamb of God “Laid to Rest” from Ashes of the Wake on Epic

In the first decade of the new millenium, the term "New Wave of American Heavy Metal" (NWOAHM) was often thrown around. This nebulous term was meant to put a label on the sudden surge in popularity of American heavy metal bands. Though the phrase doesn't denote any particular musical qualities, the NWOAHM tended to center around metalcore, groove metal, thrash, and sludge bands.

Genres: Groove Metal, Metalcore, Thrash Metal, NWOAHM

Stems from: Groove Metal, Metalcore, Thrash Metal

 

Set 11: The New Millenium 2 (NWOAHM 2, Prog Metal, Djent)

MASTODON “Circle of Cysquatch” from Blood Mountain on Reprise

Mastodon is one of the NWOAHM's greatest success stories, putting out album after album of vital, technical, progressive, and listenable sludge metal. Mastodon is one of the figureheads for the NWOAHM, which is fitting given that it is about as hard to label the band as it is to label the genre.

Genres: Sludge, Prog Metal, NWOAHM

Stems from: Thrash Metal, Sludge, Prog Rock

Meshuggah “Perpetual Black Second” from Nothing on Nuclear Blast

The current trend in metal is often known as "djent" (pronounced as in "gentle"). The name started as an onomatopoeia for the incredibly low-tuned, high-gain, palm-muted powerchords played on extended-range guitars, but has grown to refer to bands that craft their music around rhythmically complex riffs played using this tone, often incorporating atmospheric leads and occasionally melodic vocals. The "inventor" of this genre is Meshuggah, who have been playing this brand of technical, progressive death metal since the mid-90's.

Genres: Djent, Progressive Death Metal

Stems from: Deathcore, Alternative Metal, Nu-Metal, Progressive Death Metal, Technical Death Metal

 

I SURE HOPE YOU LEARNED SOMETHING, PEPPER.