Metal: It’s More than just Head-Banging

In an age where popular music that is looked at as quality consists of the likes of The Civil Wars, Mumford and Sons, and Band of Horses hard rock and metal music is looked at as nothing but mere noise and head-banging. However, it was not always that way, and as the Levine article pointed out with the example of European versus American plays and art, just because it is underappreciated doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.

As controversial artists like Elvis and the Beatles hit America, music started to take a turn towards a darker and heavier sound. With that heavier sound came the likes of Led Zeppelin. Even though, according to today’s standard, Led Zeppelin isn’t metal when they first hit the radio waves their combination of heavy lyrical content and long, epic songs helped earn them a hard rock/metal title. Other bands such as Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and KISS were also labeled as hard rock/metal and they were immensely popular and influential. This reign of hard rock ended in the late 80’s after bands like Def Leppard started to die out and music moved towards a grunge sound that helped shape music for generations to come. What these examples show is that even though today metal is looked at as non-artistic, at one point metal was what shaped future generations of music. If it wasn’t for Zeppelin and Sabbath the music you hear today would likely be very different.

As Levine’s example of the different plays and artists went deeper into detail it showed that lower “quality” American plays were being shown, just not on Broadway. This is also true of metal in modern music. Radio stations tend to focus on the more pop/indie oriented music and if they do happen to play rock music it is either classic rock or more alternative rock like Nickelback. However, that isn’t to say metal is dead. The band Devildriver just released their new album Winter Kills and did so through the independent label “Napalm Records.” While it may not be getting reviewed by critics and just because it is different from the majority of music does that mean that it is a “lower-brow” form of art? No. Metal bands, like Devildriver, go through the grueling process of writing meaningful lyrics and doing their best to evoke deep emotions from the listener and just because the more praised music isn’t metal doesn’t mean metal is of a lower quality.


Music tends to be cyclical in that what is considered “artistic” tends to change from generation to generation. In past generations country, pop, or rock were all looked at as the most artistic at one point and just because modern critics consider Indie music the most artistic today doesn’t mean that someday metal or hard rock will return to the forefront of the music industry.


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