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Heavy metal music

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Heavy metal music

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Heavy Metal
Stylistic origins: Psychedelic rock, European classical music and British blues
Cultural origins: Late 1960s United Kingdom
Typical instruments: Guitar - Bass - Drums
Mainstream popularity: Extensively followed by dedicated fans throughout the world.
Avant garde metal - Black metal - Classic metal - Death metal - Doom metal - Folk metal - Glam metal - Gothic metal - Groove metal - Neo-classical metal - Power metal - Progressive metal - Thrash metal
Fusion genres
Alternative metal - Christian metal - Funk metal - Grindcore - Industrial metal - Metalcore - Nu metal - Rapcore - Stoner metal - Symphonic metal - Vedic metal
Regional scenes
Gothenburg - Britain - Bay Area - Florida
Other topics
Fashion - History

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that emerged as a defined musical style in the 1970s, having its roots in hard rock bands which, between 1967 and 1974, took blues and rock to create a hybrid with a thick, heavy, guitar-and-drums-centered sound, characterised by the use of highly amplified distortion. Out of heavy metal various subgenres later evolved, many of which are referred to simply as "metal". As a result, "heavy metal" now has two distinct meanings: either the genre as a whole or traditional heavy metal in the 1970s style, as exemplified by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Cheer and others.

Heavy metal had its peak popularity in the 1980s, during which many of the now existing subgenres first evolved. Although not as commercially successful as it was then, heavy metal still has a large world-wide following of fans known by terms such as metalheads, metal maniacs, headbangers, and metallers.



Heavy metal is typically characterized by a distorted guitar-led sound, morbid themes and lyrics, straightfoward rhythms and classical or symphonic styles. However, heavy metal subgenres have their own stylistic variations on the original form that often omit many of these characteristics.

According to, "Of all rock & roll's myriad forms, heavy metal is the most extreme in terms of volume, machismo, and theatricality. There are numerous stylistic variations on heavy metal's core sound, but they're all tied together by a reliance on loud, distorted guitars (usually playing repeated riffs) and simple, pounding rhythms."


The most commonly used line-up for metal is a drummer, a bassist, a rhythm guitarist, a lead guitarist, and a singer (who may or may not be an instrumentalist). Keyboards are used in some styles of heavy metal and shunned by others, although as the styles of subgenre develop they're becoming increasingly popular. Guitar playing is central to heavy metal. Distorted amplification of the guitars is used to create a powerful or 'heavy' sound. The result is simple, although some of the original heavy metallers joked that their simplified sound was more the result of limited ability than of innovation. Later, more intricate solos and riffs became a big part of heavy metal music. Guitarists use sweep-picking, tapping and similar techniques for rapid playing, and many subgenres are now praising virtuosity over simplicity.

Metal vocals vary widely in style. Vocalists' abilities and styles range from the multi-octave operatic vocals of Judas Priest's Rob Halford and the classically trained singing of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, to the intentionally gruff sounding vocals of Lemmy Kilmister from the band Motörhead.

In terms of the live sound, volume is often considered as important as anything. Following on from the lead set by The Who and Jimi Hendrix, early Heavy Metal bands set new benchmarks for sound volume during shows. Tony Iommi, guitarist in Heavy Metal pioneers Black Sabbath is just one of the early Heavy Metal musicians to suffer considerable hearing loss due to their live volume. Detroit rocker Ted Nugent (who rejects the term "heavy metal" to describe his music) and The Who (who once held the distinction of "The World's Loudest Band" in the Guinness Book Of World Records) guitarist Pete Townshend is nearly deaf. Heavy Metal's volume fixation was mocked in the rockumentary spoof This Is Spinal Tap by guitarist "Nigel Tufnel", who revealed that his Marshall amplifiers had been modified to "go to eleven."


As with much popular music, visuals and images are integral to metal. Album covers and stage shows are almost as important to the presentation of the material as the music itself, although they seldom exceed the actual music in priority. Thus, through heavy metal, many artists collaborate to produce a menu of experiences in each piece—offering a wider range of experiences to the audience. In this respect, heavy metal becomes perhaps more of a diverse art form than any single form dominated by one method of expression. Whereas a painting is experienced visually, a symphony experienced audibly, a heavy metal band's "image" and the common theme that binds all their music is expressed in the artwork on the album, the set of the stage, the tone of the lyrics, in addition to the sound of the music.

Rock historians tend to find that the influence of Western pop music gives heavy metal its escape-from-reality fantasy side, as an escape from reality through outlandish and fantastic lyrics—while African American blues gives heavy metal its naked reality side, focusing on loss, depression and loneliness. Heavy metal has a relationship with spiritual issues in both symbol and music theory, as heavy metal chords and harmonies emphasize the use of open fifths—drawing ironic parallels to harmony changes in Christian Sacred Harp singing.

If the audio and thematic components of heavy metal are predominantly blues-influenced reality, then the visual component is predominantly pop-influenced fantasy. The themes of darkness, evil, power and apocalypse are fantastic language components for addressing the reality of life's problems. In reaction to the "peace and love" hippie culture of the 1960s, heavy metal developed as a counterculture, where light is supplanted by darkness and the happy ending of pop is replaced by the naked reality that things do not always work out in this world. Whilst fans claim that the medium of darkness is not the message, critics have accused the genre of glorifying the negative aspects of reality.

Metallica's debut album Kill 'em All Metallica's debut album Kill 'em All

Heavy metal themes are typically more grave than the generally airy pop from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s—focusing on war, nuclear annihilation, environmental issues, political, and religious propaganda. Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," Ozzy Osbourne's "Killer of Giants,"Metallica's "...And Justice for All,"as well as "Disposable Heroes," and Iron Maiden's "Two Minutes to Midnight" are examples of serious contributions to the discussion of the state of affairs. The commentary on reality sometimes tends to become over-simplified because the fantastic poetic vocabulary of heavy metal deals primarily with very clear dichotomies of light and dark, hope and despair, good and evil, which do not make much room for complex shades of grey. One exception to this are certain power metal bands, whose lyrical and musical tones are often bombastic and optimistic. Many power metal fans and bands, most notably Manowar, believe metal should be inspiring and upbeat music.

Classical influence

Ozzy Osbourne — The Blizzard of Ozz Ozzy Osbourne — The Blizzard of Ozz

The appropriation of classical music by heavy metal typically includes the influence of Bach and Paganini, rather than Mozart or Franz Liszt. Though Deep Purple/Rainbow guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had been experimenting with musical figurations borrowed from classical music since the early 1970s, Edward Van Halen's solo cadenza "Eruption" (released on Van Halen's first album in 1978) marks an important moment in the development of virtuosity in metal. Following Van Halen, the "classical" influence in metal guitar during the 1980s actually looked to the early eigtheenth century for its model of speed and technique. Indeed, the late Baroque era of Western art music was also frequently interpreted through a gothic lens. For example, "Mr. Crowley," (1981) by Ozzy Osbourne and guitarist Randy Rhoads, uses both a pipe organ-like synthesizer and Baroque-inspired guitar solos to create a particular mood for Osbourne's lyrics on the legendary occultist Aleister Crowley. Like many other metal guitarists in the 1980s, Rhoads quite earnestly took up the "learned" study of musical theory and helped to solidify the minor industry of guitar pedagogy magazines (such as Guitar for the Practicing Musician) that grew up during the decade. In most instances, however, metal musicians who borrowed the technique and rhetoric of art music were not attempting to be classical musicians. (An exception can arguably be found in Yngwie Malmsteen, though many argue that his music relies more on virtuosity and the use of classical-sounding elements such as the harmonic minor scale to appear classical without actually being classical).

Iron Maiden — Powerslave Iron Maiden — Powerslave

The Encarta encyclopedia claims that "when a text was associated with the music, Bach could write musical equivalents of verbal ideas," Progressive rock bands such as Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and Yes had already explored this relationship before heavy metal evolved. As heavy metal uses apocalyptic themes and images of power and darkness, the ability to translate verbal ideas into musical ideas that successfully convey the ideas of the words is critical to heavy metal authenticity and credibility. An excellent example of this is the theme album, Powerslave, by Iron Maiden. The cover is of a dramatic Egyptian pyramid scene and many of the songs on the album have subject matter that requires a sound suggestive of life and death, including a song entitled "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," based on the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. However, the 1977 Rush album A Farewell to Kings features the twelve-minute "Xanadu," also inspired by Coleridge and predating the Iron Maiden composition by several years. Bassist Steve Harris has also cited progressive rock bands such as Rush and Yes as influences on his own considerable talents.


The term "heavy metal"

Cover from Led Zeppelin. The album greatly influenced many heavy metal musicians Cover from Led Zeppelin. The album greatly influenced many heavy metal musicians

The origin of the term heavy metal in relation to a form of music is uncertain. The term had been used for centuries in chemistry and metallurgy and is listed as such in the Oxford English Dictionary. An early use of the term in modern popular culture was by counter-culture writer William S. Burroughs. In his 1962 novel, The Soft Machine, he introduces the character "Uranian Willy, the Heavy Metal Kid". His next novel in 1964, Nova Express, develops this theme further, heavy metal being a metaphor for addictive drugs.

"With their diseases and orgasm drugs and their sexless parasite life forms — Heavy Metal People of Uranus wrapped in cool blue mist of vaporized bank notes — And the Insect People of Minraud with metal music"

Burroughs, William S, (1964). Nova Express. New York: Grove Press. p. 112

Given the publication dates of these works it is unlikely that Burroughs had any intent to relate the term to rock music; however, Burroughs' writing may have influenced later usage of the term.

The first use of the term "heavy metal" in a song lyric is the words "heavy metal thunder" in the 1968 Steppenwolf song "Born to be Wild" (Walser 1993, p. 8):

"I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin' with the wind
And the feelin' that I'm under"

The book, "The History of Heavy Metal," states the name as a take from "hippiespeak," heavy meaning anything with a potent mood, and metal, more specifically designating what the mood would be, grinding and weighted as metal. The word "heavy" (meaning serious or profound) had entered beatnik/counterculture slang some time earlier and references to "heavy music"—typically slower, more amplified variations of standard pop fare—were already common; indeed, Iron Butterfly first started playing Los Angeles in 1967, their name explained on an album cover, "Iron- symbolic of something heavy as in sound, Butterfly- light, appealing and object that can be used freely in the imagination". Iron Butterfly's 1968 debut album was entitled Heavy. The fact that Led Zeppelin (whose moniker came partly in reference to Keith Moon's jest that they would "go down like a lead balloon") incorporated a heavy metal into its name may have sealed the usage of the term.

In the late 1960s, Birmingham, England was still a centre of industry and (given the many rock bands that evolved in and around the city, such as Led Zeppelin, The Move, and Black Sabbath), some people suggest that the term Heavy Metal may have some relation to such activity. Biographies of The Move have claimed that the sound came from their 'heavy' guitar riffs that were popular amongst the 'metal midlands'.

Sandy Pearlman, original producer, manager and songwriter for Blue Öyster Cult, claims to have been the first person to apply the term "heavy metal" to rock music in 1970.

A widespread but disputed hypothesis about the origin of the genre was brought forth by "Chas" Chandler, who was a manager of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1969, in an interview on the PBS TV programme "Rock and Roll" in 1995. He states that " [heavy metal] was a term originated in a New York Times article reviewing a Jimi Hendrix performance," and claims the author described the Jimi Hendrix Experience " listening to heavy metal falling from the sky." The precise source of this claim, however, has not been found and its accuracy is disputed.

The first well-documented usage of the term "heavy metal" referring to a style of music, appears to be the May 1971 issue of Creem, in a review of Sir Lord Baltimore's Kingdom Come. In this review we are told that "Sir Lord Baltimore seems to have down pat most all the best heavy metal tricks in the book". Creem critics David Marsh and Lester Bangs would subsequently use the term frequently in their writings in regards to bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

Heavy metal may have been used as a jibe initially by a number of music critics but was quickly adopted by its adherents. Other, already-established bands, such as Deep Purple, who had origins in pop or progressive rock, immediately took on the heavy metal mantle, adding distortion and additional amplification in a more aggressive approach.

Origins (1960s and early 1970s)

Deep Purple — Machine Head. One of the first quintessential heavy metal albums Deep Purple — Machine Head. One of the first quintessential heavy metal albums

American blues music was highly popular and influential among the early British rockers; bands like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds had recorded covers of many classic blues songs, sometimes speeding up the tempo and using electric guitar where the original used acoustic. (Similar adaptations of blues and other race music had formed the basis of the earliest rock and roll, notably that of Elvis Presley).

Such powered-up blues music was encouraged by the intellectual and artistic experimentation that arose when musicians started to exploit the opportunities of the electrically amplified guitar to produce a louder and more dissonant sound. Where blues-rock drumming styles had been largely simple shuffle beats on small drum kits, drummers began using a more muscular, complex, and amplified approach to match and be heard with the increasingly loud guitar sounds; similarly vocalists modified their technique and increased their reliance on amplification, often becoming more stylised and dramatic in the process. Simultaneous advances in amplification and recording technology made it possible to successfully capture the power of this heavier approach on record.

Black Sabbath — Paranoid Black Sabbath — Paranoid

The earliest music commonly identified as heavy metal came out of the Birmingham area of the United Kingdom in the late 1960s when bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath applied an overtly non-traditional approach to blues standards and created new music often based on blues scales and arrangements. These bands were highly influenced by American psychedelic rock musicians including Jimi Hendrix, who had pioneered amplified and processed blues-rock guitar and acted as a bridge between black American music and white European rockers.

Other oft-cited influences include Vanilla Fudge, who had slowed down and psychedelicised pop tunes, as well as earlier British rockers such as The Who and The Kinks, who had paved the way for heavy metal styles by introducing power chords and more aggressive percussion to the rock genre. Another key influence was Cream, who exemplified the power trio format that would become a staple of heavy metal. Perhaps the earliest song that is clearly identifiable as prototype heavy metal is "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks (1965).

By late 1968, heavy blues sounds were becoming common—many fans and scholars point to Blue Cheer's 1968 cover of Eddie Cochran's hit "Summertime Blues" as the first true heavy-metal song. Beatles scholars cite in particular the songs "Helter Skelter" from The White Album and the single version of "Revolution" (1968), which set new standards for distortion and aggressive sound on a pop album. Dave Edmunds' band Love Sculpture released an aggressive heavy guitar version of Khachaturian's Sabre Dance in November 1968. The Jeff Beck Group's album Truth (late 1968) was an important and influential rock album released just before Led Zeppelin's first album, leading some (especially British blues fans) to argue that Truth was the first heavy metal album. The Yardbirds' 1968 single, "Think About It," should also be mentioned, as that employed a similar sound to that which Jimmy Page would employ with Led Zeppelin.

Also, progressive rock band King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" from their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), featured most of the thematic, compositional, and musical characteristics of heavy metal—a very heavily distorted guitar tone and discordant soloing by Robert Fripp with lyrics that focused on what is wrong about what the 21st century human would be, a dark mood and even Greg Lake's vocals were passed through a distortion box.

However, it was the release of Led Zeppelin in 1969 that brought worldwide notice of the formation of a new genre. The first heavy metal bands—Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, UFO, and Black Sabbath, among a few—are often now called hard rock bands by the modern metal community rather than heavy metal, especially those bands whose sound was more similar to traditional rock music. In general, the terms heavy metal and hard rock are often used interchangeably, in particular when discussing the 1970s. Indeed, many such bands are not considered "heavy metal bands" per se, but rather as having contributed individual songs or works that contributed to the genre. Few would consider Jethro Tull a heavy metal band in any real sense, for example, but few would dispute that their song Aqualung was a quintessential early Heavy Metal song.

Classic Heavy Metal (Late 1970s and early 1980s)

Album by Van Halen Album by Van Halen

The late 1970s and early 1980s history of heavy metal music is highly debated among music historians. Bands like Blue Öyster Cult achieved moderate mainstream success and the Los Angeles glam metal scene began finding pop audiences—especially in the 1980s. Others ignore or downplay the importance of these bands, instead focusing on the arrival of classical influences—which can be heard in the work of Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads and such like. Others still highlight the late-70s cross-fertilization of heavy metal with fast-paced, youthful punk rock (e.g. Sex Pistols), culminating in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal around the year 1980, led by bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. These two inparticular became very popular in the Heavy Metal movement.

Some followers, including Heavy Metal musicians of prominent groups, believe that the foundations of the definite style and sound of pure heavy metal were laid down by NWOBHM band Judas Priest (another Birmingham band) with three of their early albums: Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976), Sin After Sin (1977), and Stained Class (1978).

Rainbow are also sometimes cited as pioneering a sort of pure heavy metal and one could also make this claim about the later albums of Deep Purple such as Burn and Stormbringer, but these bands are generally considered to be hard rock bands. Beginning with Judas Priest, metal bands quickly began to look beyond the almost exclusive use of the blues scale to incorporate diatonic modes into their solos. This has since spread throughout virtually all sub-genres of metal (some doom metal, following in Black Sabbath's footsteps, being the main exception) and along with an overriding sense of musicianship are the main contributions classical and jazz (via progressive rock) have made to the genre.

The explosion of guitar virtuosity (pioneered by Jimi Hendrix a musical generation earlier) was brought to the fore by Eddie Van Halen—many consider his 1978 solo "Eruption" (Van Halen, 1978) a milestone. Ritchie Blackmore (formerly of Deep Purple), Randy Rhoads (with pioneers Ozzy Osbourne, and Quiet Riot) and Yngwie Malmsteen went on to solidify this explosion of virtuoso guitar work, and in some cases, classical guitars and nylon-stringed guitars were played at heavy metal concerts. Classical icons such as Liona Boyd also became associated with the heavy metal stars as peers in a newly diverse guitar fraternity where conservative and aggressive guitarists could come together to "trade licks."

This explosion would cool down in the music of Ronnie James Dio (who himself had a tenure at lead vocals with the legendary Black Sabbath) and continue to settle towards Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, who may be the final and complete consummation of "pure" heavy metal in the lineage of the "grandfathers"—Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath.

Mainstream Dominance (1980s)

Quiet Riot — Metal Health Quiet Riot — Metal Health

The most popular subgenre of Metal emerged in the United States, coming from Glam Metal bands of the 1980s the epicentre for this explosion was mostly in Los Angeles.

This scene was led by Van Halen, Mötley Crüe and the first wave included groups such as Dokken, Ratt, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and others. At times even the likes of Dio and Judas Priest experimented with Glam Metal stylings in their music.

The genres caused a divide in the metal community, mostly due to the Glam Metal bands image, which fans of Thrash Metal (A fellow subgenre) generally saw as negative compared to their less eccentric look, a common misconception was that Glam Metal bands were not technically proficient musicians; even though this movement included some of the most critically acclaimed musicians in Hard rock of their era such as Steve Vai (David Lee Roth, Whitesnake), Michael Angelo Batio (Nitro), Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen), and Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr. Big).

Underground Metal (1980s, 1990s, and 2000s)

Slayer — Reign in Blood Slayer — Reign in Blood

Many subgenres of heavy metal developed in the 1980s. In a shift away from metal's hard rock roots, a more underground (at first) genre that took influences from Hardcore punk emerged—thrash metal. The genre's sound was far more aggressive, louder and faster than the original metal bands or their glam metal contempories of the time. This subgenre was pioneered by the 'Big Four Of Thrash', Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer, with bands like San Francisco's Testament, New Jersey's Overkill and Brazil's Sepultura also making an impact. Meanwhile an even harsher sound was coming from Europe, as Germany's Destruction, Kreator and Sodom used harsher vocals and a generally more aggressive sound in a style that would later influence Black and Death Metal.

In the early and mid 1980s, thrash began to split further into death metal (a term probably originating from Possessed's song "Death Metal", off their influential "Seven Churches" album), led by Possessed and Death, and black metal (a term coined by Venom, with an album called "Black Metal", who themselves lacked most integral characteristics of the genre, such as the buzz-saw vocals) and Denmark's Mercyful Fate who are often considered the originators of the Corpse Paint and Satanic and Pagan themes, in which Bathory (generally considered one of the first black metal acts although later deemed to be more in tune with Viking culture) and Mayhem were key players early on.

Progressive Metal, a fusion of the progressive stylings of bands like Rush and King Crimson and Traditional Metal began in the '80s, too, behind innovators like Fates Warning and later Queensrÿche and Dream Theater, who enjoyed substantial mainstream acceptance and success in the glam metal era.

Alternative Metal / Nu-Metal (1990s and 2000s)

Ozzfest poster (1998). Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, System of a Down, Tool, Motörhead appeared among others. Ozzfest poster (1998). Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, System of a Down, Tool, Motörhead appeared among others.

The era of metal dominating the mainsteam, or "Glam Metal," came to an end with the emergence of Nirvana and other grunge bands. Later styles of heavy rock music in the 1990s show influences of heavy metal but are typically not labelled sub-genres of heavy metal.

As the 1990s progressed metal began to make a comeback. This time around, the music had a much more aggressive feel than most of the mainstream metal of the 1980s. In some cases, bands also fused traditional elements with electronic beats and samples as well as the conventions and attitude of alternative rock. These newer bands are sometimes labeled alternative metal. Still more subgenres began to appear, such as funeral doom and brutal death metal, drawing on existing heavy metal subgenres.

Heavy metal's comeback was soldified with the arrival of Ozzfest in 1996, a touring music festival hosted by Ozzy Osbourne, the former lead singer of Black Sabbath. Later, Osbourne grew even more famous when he and his family starred in a reality TV show called The Osbournes. Many major newer metal bands eventually wound up playing at Ozzfest sooner or later, including , Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Disturbed, Godsmack, Tool, System of a Down, Queens of the Stone Age, Slipknot, Korn, and many more.

Some of these bands were grouped under the heading nu metal in order to signify a new wave of metal music. Much debate has arisen over the genre's massive success and whether or not it is metal in a conventional sense. Fans of extreme metal, which itself is debated by purists as to whether it is metal or not in the conventional sense, often levy these criticisms against nu metal. In recent years, Ozzfest has had many metalcore bands playing at the festival and has helped the genre gain much popularity. Some see this style as nu metal's successor, whilst others believe that it will become popular and fashionable in the same way as nu metal.

Cultural impact

The loud, confrontational aspects of heavy metal have led to friction between fans and mainstream society in many countries. Due to the hedonistic nature public perception thinks of as being promoted by the music and its occasional anti-religious sentiments, some heavy metal as a sub-culture has come under attack in many Christian and Islamic countries where even wearing a black T-shirt can be an arrestable offense. In Jordan, for example, all Metallica albums, past, present and future were banned in 2001.[1] In Europe and America, the fan base for heavy metal consists primarily of white males in their teens and 20's—many of whom are attracted to heavy metal's overtly anti-social yet fantastical lyrics and extreme volume and tempos. Hence, the stereotype of the spotty-faced, adolescent headbanger venting his rebellious urges by listening to presposterously loud, morbid music. This image has been highlighted in popular culture with such television shows and movies as "Beavis and Butt-head" and "Airheads." Heavy metal's bombastic excesses, exemplified by hair metal, have often been parodied, most famously in the film This Is Spinal Tap (see also the phenomenon of the heavy metal umlaut).

Many heavy metal stylings have made their way into everyday (albeit ironic) use; for instance, the "devil horns" hand sign popularized by Ronnie James Dio and Gene Simmons has become a common sight at many rock concerts. During the 1970s and 1980s, flirtation with occult themes by artists such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, and W.A.S.P., led to accusations of "Satanic" influences in heavy metal by fundamentalist Christians. One popular contention during that period was that heavy metal albums featured hidden messages urging listeners to worship the Devil or to commit suicide (see Judas Priest and backward message and Allegations of Satanism in popular culture).

Related styles

Hard rock, mentioned earlier, is closely related to heavy metal (and often the terms overlap in usage), but it does not always match the description of what purists consider the definition of heavy metal. While still guitar-driven in nature and usually riff-based, its themes and execution differ from that of the major heavy metal bands listed earlier in this article. This is perhaps best examplified by The Who in the late-1960s and early-1970s, as well as other 1970s and 1980s bands like Queen, KISS, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, and Scorpions.

Glam rock, a short-lived era in the early 1970s, relied on heavy, crunchy guitars, anthemic songs, and a theatrical image. T. Rex, David Bowie, and Alice Cooper are among the more popular standard examples of this sub-genre.

Some cross-influence has occurred between punk rock, hardcore punk and heavy metal. Punk rock was influential on the NWOBHM movement. Another example is Motörhead, the bands leader Lemmy, has spent time in punk band The Damned and attempted to teach Sid Vicious how to play bass guitar.

Heavy metal dance

Although some heavy metal fans would disagree with the term "dance," there are certain body movements that are nearly universal in the metal world, including headbanging, moshing, and various hand gestures such as devil horns. Stage diving, air guitar, and crowd surfing are also practiced, but crowd surfing and moshing are most popular today.

See also


  • Christe, Ian (2003). Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. HarperCollins. ISBN 0380811278.
  • Walser, Robert (1993). Running with the Devil: Fuck Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0819562602.
  • Weinstein, Deena (1991). Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology. Lexington. ISBN 0669218375. Revised edition: (2000) Heavy Metal: The Music and its Culture. DaCapo. ISBN 0306809702.

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