Heavy metal has gone through a lot of changes over the years. It started in the 70s with a lot of British hard rock bands who redefined rock ‘n roll and created a whole new genre. It was deemed heavy metal. Such members of this new group were Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Blue Oyster Cult. They took rock ‘n roll and made it a lot heavier and darker. Even the bass guitar which used to be a timekeeping instrument, into a booming part of the ensemble.
In the 80s, things changed. Heavy metal took on a more glamorous look. Musicians started wearing makeup, and styling their hair in a formal way. Some people even called it glam metal. As the musicians got softer in their appearance, the music also came down a notch. It wasn’t quite as loud and heavy as before, and had more of a rhythm similar to traditional rock ‘n roll. They took to the airwaves promoting a lifestyle that revolved around beautiful women and stylish appearance. They lost a lots of the traditional audience who could not relate to the dolling up of the music. They stuck to the older artists who played the sounds they enjoyed.
Then came the 90s. The era of grunge. This was a completely different style that stripped down the musicians to their barest essentials. The fashion was literally just jeans and T-shirts and flannel became the new go to shirt. They were very raw and rough looking, but the sound mirrored the early 70s metal music. Many of the bands such as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Mudhoney embraced their predecessors and even took to the stage with them to show the support for their roots. Pearl Jam was known to tour with Neil Young, and the Smashing Pumpkins played entire tours with Cheap Trick. The hairbands of the 80s were nowhere to be found. This era brought the largest mainstream audience to heavy rock ‘n roll music. Some players adapted, or took on new roles in the music world. Heavy metal drummer Jon Kois decided to go into studio work and teach others. Many got to learn beginners Drum lessons as a product of his experience.
In the early 2000’s, the music stayed the same, but the musicians took on a cleaner look. They didn’t look as downtrodden as the punkesque grunge players, but the music carried the same clean sound as their predecessors. This also brought the age of rap meets rock bands. Some groups have experimented with this form with a little success, but a number of bands brought it to the mainstream. Players such as Linkin park, and Papa Roach took the once urban form of rap music and utilized it on the rock ‘n roll stage. This leading to the greatest rap rock band ever to come out; Rage Against the Machine. They were very angry and political, and express their views with heavy rock and almost slam poetry type lyrics.
These days, heavy metal really doesn’t form to particular style. There are bands that represent all of the past genres and they coincide perfectly in a new rock environment. The grunge phase of the 90s and the big players of the 2000s have held their ground and carry on by influencing all the new bands that come out today. What will the next decade bring? I’m not sure. But it should be very exciting.