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| The Iron Maiden Commentary | Rants | Rant 16: Regarding Heavy Metal and the Blues |


Regarding Heavy Metal and the Blues

Paladine Bahmut

I've been a longtime fan of this site. While the site may not be the most aurally or visually stimulating site, it more than makes up for it in intelligent well thought out writing and honest well-reasoned opinions. While I may not agree with all of the opinions, I can always appreciate the reasoning behind them. One thing I haven't been able to comprehend is Baeleron's hatred of what he terms "bluesy" music. While I understand not liking the newer, alternative sounding Metallica, I don't see how it sounds "bluesy". I'll be honest, I like more than just heavy metal. I like orchestral classical music, blues, classic rock, and heavy metal. Before you try to condemn me let me explain. I appreciate the lush, full musical landscapes an orchestra can create. I like blues because of the emotion and the real life experience behind the music and the way the guitar seems to talk to you. Have you ever tried to truly experience the songs of the classic blues-men or the work of the more recent ones such as Stevie Ray Vaughan? He is in my opinion the greatest guitarist ever. His playing sounded like an outpouring of his soul. If anyone ever became one with his instrument it was him. It was a very sad day for me when I found out that he had died.

Now for classic rock (hold the snickering until I'm done.) I mean the hard rock that started out as an electrified British take on American blues that had it's start in the mid-60s, became hugely popular during the 70s, and for all intents and purposes died by the early 80s because of the commercial saturation caused by corporate greed. During this time classic rock became very diverse and subgenred. Gee sounds familiar, doesn't it? Look at some of the music considered to be classic rock: the southern rock of the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, .38 Special, and Night Ranger. The progressive rock of Yes, Rush, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd. The boogie blues of Savoy Brown, Foghat, and the early Doobie Brothers. While I could go on with subgenres and groups that fit within them, I think I've made my point and I'm sure you've heard the groups I could list. And even (drum roll please...) heavy metal evolved from classic (heavy electric blues) rock. The seminal heavy metal group and the first one to have the term affixed to it, Black Sabbath, showed its blues heritage on its albums. Songs like the 'Wizard' and 'N.I.B.' among others have obviously identifiable blues elements.

I could go on with groups that preceded and followed Black Sabbath with origins in the late 60s to early 70s that have had the heavy metal tag affixed to them that had blues elements show up in songs. I could list them but I sure you know which ones I mean. While there were cookie-cutter groups that explicitly made music for the intent of mass consumption and were obvious rip-offs of previous groups during this time, it wasn't just the hedonistic, corporate music machine that has only been represented. There were many groups that had a definite musical vision, stayed true to their goals, achieved critical acclaim, and sold many albums. And as you know heavy metal went through a similar cycle.

Now as far as music of the 80s and 90s is concerned, I don't like punk, synth pop, new wave, R&B, rap, alternative, modern rock or strains of "hard rock" that incorporate these genres into them and which misinformed people refer to as heavy metal. I also don't always like everything that could be rightfully considered metal, such as death/doom metal. What I don't like is the wannabe demonic growl vocals that end cookie monster mumbling. I can deal with extreme vocals, like King Diamond, Udo Dirkschneider, Rob Halford, Brian Johnson, Michael Kiske, Hansi Kursch, and Chuck Billy. I tried listening to Cradle Of Filth, but no matter how hard I try I cannot reconcile it; I don't like death/doom metal. The vocals are just too irritating, especially when they're mumbled. I'll admit there are songs by Slayer I actually like. They happen to be the slower ones where I can actually understand what Arya is singing, such as 'South of Heaven', 'Seasons in the Abyss', and 'Deadskin Mask'. I like Iron Maiden for reasons similar to what written on this site: their progressive leanings; deep, conceptual minded lyrics that make me draw upon my knowledge of history or literature; long, drawn out, multiple movement instrumental sections; flawless musicianship that is able to maintain power and aggression; and the other indefinable quality that just clicks inside you when you listen to it. These are also the reasons why I like the groups on the other bands page as well as the likes of Savatage, Dream Theater, Hammerfall, Stratovarius, Manowar, Jag Panzer, Olympia, Einerjer, and Gamma Ray. But then again I like other artists such as Deep Purple, Rainbow, the Scorpions, UFO, MSG, Guns N' Roses, Corrosion Of Conformity, Yngwie Malmsteen, Blue Oyster Cult, Joe Satriani, Motorhead, and yes even the dreaded Black Crowes. I'll admit that while some of them don't have anything even closely approaching intelligent lyrics, I don't need to have brain-busting lyrics to appreciate guitar heroics and great songs. These are just some of my thoughts on music and what the draw for me is in music, especially power/progressive metal. Feel free to e-mail any responses to me.

Paladine Bahmut
9th March 2000

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