I’ve had a few conversations with my mother about my interest in heavy metal music; what is it and why do I like it? There are still to this day, many misunderstandings about metal the music, the fans and the artists. So I’d say there are two types of metal: the underground or unpopular type; the one that is misunderstood. Then there’s what I dub mainstream.
The mainstream type is what most who are not familiar with heavy metal music see often presented in the so-called pop culture. When I was in high school, this was bands such as Motley Crue, Ratt, Cinderella and other “glam metal” bands. These days, it’s bands such as Slipknot, The Devil Wears Prada, Static X and other such bands.
Most metal heads hold this pop culture metal in extreme disdain. Why is that? Heavy metal in its true form in not a fad to us; we hold the music and the bands dear to our hearts. To treat this music like a fad is an insult to us.
Underground metal (as I’ll call it here), is as I said above, often misunderstood. To most people not of the culture, it is brutal, non-musical and those who write it and listen to it are complete morons. The exact opposite is often the case. Steve Harris, the founding member and bassist for Iron Maiden, has often drawn from history, literature and poetry for his lyrical themes.
On the Album “Powerslave”, he did an interpretation of British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem, Rime of the Ancient Mariner. His bass playing is incredible, because he is a very gifted musician.
As with all music styles, heavy metal draws from many different influences: Dimmu Borgir’s symphonic stylings. Metallica has a lot of waltz influence in it, and the Norwegian symphonic black metal band Emperor, actually incorporates the two styles in a lot of their songs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQSFpKG1les
The late Randy Rhoads, who performed guitar with Ozzy Osbourne, before he passed too soon, studied classical music. And former lead singer for the band Kamelot, Roy Khan was an opera singer for the Oslo, Norway Opera.
Over the years, I’ve struggled with my feelings about mainstream metal and I’ve come to this conclusion: I don’t care for it for myself, but if it’s something somebody likes, then by all means listen to it and don’t let “metal snobs” bother you. I’ve tried to get over my “metal snobbery” (much as I hate to admit that I can sometimes be one), because it really doesn’t do me any harm if someone calls a band metal or not. There may be metal heads reading this who would vehemently disagree with me and I suppose there will be insults or whatever. But if that’s what makes you feel good about yourself, go for it. Me? I’m going to go blast me good ole Mayhem!