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The History and Evolution of Metal - PT. II

Over the past three or four decades, heavy music has seen many different levels of evolution. In the mid 1960s, there was a big influx of blues-based rock bands hailing from the U.K., many of which were developing stylistic elements like loud distorted guitars, power chords and up-tempo rhythms that would later become the hallmarks of heavy metal music.

Artists such as The Kinks and The Who started experimenting with feedback and created the now infamous wall of amps that paved the way for a new level of intensity in rock and roll. By the late 60s, songs like Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild and Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida introduced rock radio to a beefier sound and lengthier song format. In 1969, the world was introduced to Led Zeppelin, who have come to be one of the most influential bands of all time, especially among metal artists.

The 70s kicked right in with the emergence of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, two bands that have long been hailed as the originators of heavy metal. In the mid-70s, metal was in full swing, with bands like AC/DC and Judas Priest hitting the scene followed by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) that gave us bands like Iron Maiden and Motorhead, among many others. By the late 70s, a new crop of rising stars suc as KISS and Alice Cooper emerged that created a larger-than-life theatrical element, including stage makeup, that would lead the way for the dramatic music of the 1980s.

In the early 1980s, a whole new conglomeration of young rockers, such as Ratt, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, and Van Halen dominated L.A.’s famous Sunset Strip, MTV, and radio waves with their glam-rock imagery, technically proficient musical skills and anthemic vocal melodies. Also rising in the mid-80s was an underground insurgence of thrash metal’s meaner and faster sound that gave us legendary bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. By the late 80s, heavy metal was in full effect and taking the world by storm.

By 1990, metal was growing, expanding, and branching off into numerous sub-genres. Florida’s Chuck Schuldiner opened the door for a more grim and morbid musical genre with his band Death and was later recognized as the father of Death Metal Bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, and Tool led the pack in the evolution of progressive metal. Yngwie Malmsteen paved the way for the neo-classical shredder movement, and later bands like Pantera (featuring the late guitarist Dimebag Darrell) would carry the torch for a whole new generation of shred-heads.

From the mid-90s to the early 2000s, metal continued to take on new forms and intense progression with bands like White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and Slipknot. They took imagery and shock to new heights alongside a rising crop of Nu-Metal bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park, which infused hip-hop and DJ influences with a down-tuned heavy edge. Moving from the year 2000 to the present day, metal music retains a strong presence in emerging bands like Opeth, Gojira, and Lamb of God, and has never lost that underlying mystical element that draws in listeners for a truly transformed listening experience. Looking at the past progression of this art, we can now envision our own evolution and transformation as metal musicians and draw influence from the wealth of talent that has led us to where we are today.

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