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Metal: Does Metallica Still Fit the Bill? Rock and Roll is quite possibly the most widely enjoyed and known genre of music in the world today. It is impossible to turn on the radio without hearing some Boston or Journey every now and again, but there is a lesser known, darker side of Rock and Roll music called Metal. Metal is a sub genre that is often known for its low tuned guitars, pulse pounding rhythms and machine gun guitars, but it has often been disputed as to what falls into this category and what doesnt. One band in particular has been highly disputed in recent years, and that is the band, Metallica. This essay will be an evaluation of the band, as well as an evaluation of the genre to see if the two do indeed line up. Lets start by going back to when Metal started. Metal fanatics have always been fighting over which subgenres of metal are best, which ones came first, which ones are the most metal etc., but most people arent aware of just how many types of metal there are. You have: Early Metal, Shock Rock, Progressive Metal, Glam, Original Hard Rock, Early Punk, Pop Metal, Power Metal, New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Original Hardcore, First Wave of Black Metal, Stoner Metal, Doom Metal, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Metalcore, Grindcore, Industrial, Grunge, Hard Alternative, Goth Metal, Swedish Death Metal, Norwegian Black Metal, Nu Metal and the New Wave of British and American Metal. (Dunn) You may be wondering how it is possible for all of these types of metal to exist, but the matter of fact is that each of these subgenres has their own distinct characteristics. For example, Doom Metal is known to generally have slow and deep rhythms accompanied with a clean voice

2 singing gloomy lyrics (band of reference: Ghost B.C. Song- Monstrance Clock). While other types of Metal, such as Death Metal often consist of blast beats, and a rough screaming vocal with lyrics about dark, sometimes morbid topics (band of reference: Whitechapel Song- Possibilities of an Impossible Existence). Even though Doom and Death share similar names, you can see that there are clear differences in the types of music themselves and each subgenre stemmed out from a generation of metal that came before it. Metal originally started as a genre fairly different than what it is today and certainly different than the styling of Metallica. Bands like Blue Cheer and Cream are often cited to be some of the first metal bands to rock the Earth, probably due to the fact that this is the first time a style like theirs had ever been seen before. (Dunn) Power chords, breakdowns and guitar solos had never been seen to the extent that these types of bands were using them and as time went on, the music started to evolve even further. Eventually metal music became a symbol of independence, a symbol that being an individual was okay and it became a thing for people to rally behind. Bands began to make music on dark and depressing subject[s] matter to an extent hitherto unprecedented in any form of pop music." (Millward) Ronny James Dio of the famous bands Black Sabbath and Dio said, [Metal] becomes a great big family of people, who all share one thing and that is Metal. (Dunn) Ultimately, Metal became a genre about the fans, and how they come together and rejoice in their freedom and individuality. Metal became the antithesis of pop culture and bands set out to usher in a new era of music for the masses to enjoy, many bands have enjoyed mild

3 success in this endeavor. One of these crusading groups being, possibly the most famous rock group in the world, Metallica, a band with a nearly unshakable fanbase. Metallica was formed officially in 1981 and since its inception, Metallica has been in an ever climbing rise of fame. They debuted with their album called Kill em All in 1983 featuring such hits as Whiplash, Seek and Destroy and The Four Horsemen. Steve Huey of All Music Guide gave it a stellar 5 star review, paving the way to their future success. (Huey) But as in all genres of music, it is not the critics that make an act famous, it is the fans that make the final judgment and who better to make the judgment than other bands? Many bands over the course of years that Metallica has been a prominent part of popular culture have cited them among their musical influences, some of which have overwhelming success themselves. Avenged Sevenfold, a metal band out of Huntington Beach, California, has cited them as one of their heaviest influences. (Fuoco) Avenged Sevenfold has a resume almost as impressive as Metallica, the only thing missing are a Grammy award or two. You could call the two groups similar in a lot of ways (with the exception that I actually enjoy Avenged Sevenfold to an extreme degree, while Metallica, not so much.) including their musical style, stage shows, and style. For example, on their album Hail to the King, released this year, track number four entitled This Means War has all the trademarks of a classic Metallica song: an indirect intro, a filthy (slang usage) main guitar riff, and a vocal pattern similar to that of James Hetfield of Metallica. Avenged Sevenfold however, belongs to the subgenre of metal known as the New Wave of American/British Heavy Metal (NWAHM). But wait, if Avenged Sevenfold is classified as NWAHM, then that means Metallica should be too,

4 right? Not necessarily because even Avenged Sevenfold, one of the greatest metal bands to currently walk the Earth has been criticized for Not being metal enough. (Freeman) So now here comes the big question, what defines a band to be metal or not? Is it the things they do, say, perform, create or enjoy? I think it is none and all of these things at the same time. There are different categories of Metal for a reason, not only because of different subtleties in the music, but because Metal is evolving at a very quick pace, and some of the band in certain categories are there just because of the period of time in which a certain subgenre was dominant. For example, the bands Slipknot (reference songWherein Lies Continue) and Limp Bizkit (reference song- Break Stuff) are in the same subgenre of Nu-metal, but they are very different artists. Slipknot came into the heavy metal scene in 1999, by that point Limp Bizkit had been around the rap-rock scene for 5 years. (McIver) For the reason that Slipknot had some similar elements to Limp Bizkit, they got lumped into the same category, regardless of how different they actually were. Ultimately, the subgenre that a band may end up in may just be a product of the time that they entered the game, so to speak. This type of situation can be applied to the problem that many people have with placing bands that have been around for long periods of time. The genre of metal has evolved so far from where it started, that bands that used to be metal, no longer fit the archetype that it was. That is where this disconnect began, and it is where the gap between generations will continue to expand because people tend to live in the here and now, and forget what came before what they know and love. So, we can only conclude that metal is a genre specific to an individual.

5 Metal to me, is a genre that generates power inside you, it is a genre that you either feel or you dont. The feeling is inexplicable, but you know it when its there and it makes you feel as if you could do anything. Many people dont enjoy metal for some reason or another, because its bad or because its all mindless screaming and takes no talent, they just dont get that feeling of raw energy, or cant process it or dont want to. Metal is something you have to be ready and willing to feel, it is something that you cant understand until you have felt it. However, even if you feel it sometimes, you dont necessarily feel it all the time. A perfect example is my comparison of Avenged Sevenfold and Metallica. Both bands are similar in nature, have similar musical styles and have tremendous fan bases, but only one of the two actually make me feel that awesome surge of power that only metal can give you and that is Avenged Sevenfold in this case. There is no rhyme or reason other than it just sounds good to a certain individual. Metallica doesnt give me that feeling, or sound good to me, so I am hesitant to call them metal because they do not fit my definition. However, just because they arent what I would call metal, doesnt mean they arent what someone else would call metal. The point of this essay is not to prove that Metallica is or isnt metal, it is to share the ideas behind the opinion that forms behind a genre. Opinion is all musical genre is to begin with, and no single individual has a final say of what is and what isnt metal, or pop, or blues, or jazz, etc. While certain music may share similar characteristics, they are not necessarily the same exact genre or subgenre. What I have realized through writing this is that it is not necessarily the style of music that makes it what it is, but the fact that

6 what came before and after is what defines a musical genre as well as the people perpetuating their opinion about a genre. There are people who would argue to the day they die, that bands like Creed are metal, and the beauty of it is that they can. To them, the music represents the word it is categorized as and that is how it should be for everyone.

Works Cited: Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. Dir. Sam Dunn, Scot McFayden, and Jessica Wise. Perf. Sam Dunn. Warner Bros., 2006. DVD.

7 Hatch, David, and Stephen Millward. From Blues to Rock: An Analytical History of Pop Music. Manchester, UK: Manchester UP, 1987. Print. Huey, Steve. "Metallica: Kill 'Em All". Review. AllMusic. Fuoco, Christina. "Avenged Sevenfold". Allmusic. Freeman, Channing (2006-08-10). "City of Evil - Avenged Sevenfold". Sputnikmusic. McIver, Joel (2003). Slipknot: Unmasked (Again). UK: Omnibus. ISBN 0-7119-9764-0