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ARSCLIST  February 2016

ARSCLIST February 2016

Subject:

Re: Heavy metal as world music?

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 19 Feb 2016 13:16:23 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (100 lines)

One topic I'm interested in is the debate about the beginning of heavy metal. As I said, I peg it to 
England, Birmingham, Black Sabbath. The change from hard rock such as was practiced by Led Zeppelin 
to heavy metal was Tony Iommi's guitar tuning and tone, necessitated because he damaged his fingers 
in a metal press (Spinal Tappish now, because things turned out alright, but sad at the time). Black 
Sabbath and Led Zeppelin both formed around the same time. Zeppelin was a natural outgrowth of 
blues, rock 'n' roll and psychedelic rock, founded by experienced studio musicians (Jimmy Page and 
John Paul Jones) who had evolved forward from skiffle music. Black Sabbath was formed by younger, 
less experienced musicians, from poor working class backgrounds in a grim industrial city. They 
definitely had blues-rock elements, but the darker tuning of the guitar and the occult themes in 
their songs were a different thing at the time. In my opinion, this was the beginning of heavy metal 
(which wasn't called that until several years later). The Rhino box set pegs it to the U.S., with 
harder-rocking psychedelic and garage bands. I think this is more the roots of punk music, which I 
believe sprang out of the industrial Midwest of the U.S. in the late 60's and caught on very late in 
England, but is often associated with London in the Thatcher era.

At the risk of getting too academic (and always keeping in mind the "mock-umentary" aspect of waxing 
too seriously about any of this), some of the themes in heavy metal lyrics and its staging harkens 
back to Viking culture and rituals. So, to my thinking, it's very natural that hotbeds of metal 
would be the U.K., Scandinavia and Russia, all places where Vikings roamed. In the U.S., pure heavy 
metal bands happened later, and the biggest "contribution" was hair-metal in the early days of MTV. 
Also in the U.S., there's an interesting blurring and broadening of the genre. For instance, is Van 
Halen a heavy metal band? Due to a variety of musical elements, staging and solo-playing mastery and 
flash, I'd argue yes. But David Lee Roth's lyrics, stage persona and general outlook are somewhat 
Vaudeville, definitely not very occult or ominous. Probably the purest metal forward-movers from the 
U.S. were Ronnie James Dio and then, a few years later, Metallica (the members of which were heavily 
influenced by punk and garage rock rather than older-school heavy metal). The other interesting 
thing to come out of the U.S. is the metal-rap blurring, for instance Anthrax "I'm The Man," the 
collaboration between Aerosmith (another band on the metal-hard rock borderline; I put early 
Aerosmith more in the metal camp than "Love In An Elevator" Aerosmith) and Run-DMC, etc. And where 
does American glam-metal-rock stuff like Kiss and Twisted Sister fit in? In the U.K., there are 
characters like the late great Lemmy, who connect metal to punk. There, where does a band like 
Arctic Monkeys, early version, fit in? Was it a metal band?

Caveat -- I'm not trying to pigeon-hole or categorize music for any sort of divisive reason, just 
interested in drilling down to what musical, lyrical and cultural elements define heavy metal music. 
Personally, I like a wide variety of music so how something is described or categorized isn't going 
to effect whether I like it or not, so I don't want to put any great music out of the earshot of any 
listener based on labels and categories.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brandon Michael Fess" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, February 19, 2016 11:17 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Heavy metal as world music?


There's actually a growing musicological literature on metal, in all its forms. I've seen an 
ever-growing number of journal articles being published in recent years, and there are now several 
small conferences dedicated to the academic study of metal. Check out the "Metal Music Librarians" 
Facebook page if you're interested in this topic - it does a great job of aggregating information 
regarding metal in academia.

Brandon Fess
MLIS, Syracuse University 2015
(585) 703-0739

________________________________________
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Adam 
Jazairi <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, February 19, 2016 10:23 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Heavy metal as world music?

Well put, Tom. In my view, metal music has endless potential as a subject
of ethnomusicological study. Folk metal, which the blog post touches on,
just scratches the surface.

On Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 9:51 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Interesting blog post from the WSJ yesterday:
>
> http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2016/02/18/sample-five-heavy-metal-bands-from-around-the-world/
>
> Here is the related article:
>
> http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-weird-global-appeal-of-heavy-metal-1455819419?tesla=y
>
> I don't find it "weird" that heavy metal music, attitude and culture have
> a global appeal today. Metal is related to punk, but probably more widely
> acceptable because it is less overtly political. Both deal with rage,
> alienation, injustice, the same theme of fighting a perceived "machine"
> that goes back to Bartleby the Scrivener and back. There are many millions,
> perhaps billions, of people in this world who feel alienated, disempowered
> to varying degrees and chaffed if not enraged by it. Some music soothes the
> soul, some stokes the fires. Metal is more the latter.
>
> -- Tom Fine
>



--
Adam Jazairi
Digital Collections & Preservation Librarian
Boston College University Libraries
(617) 552-1404
[log in to unmask]

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