Metal. Part 1: Demystifying

A tentative to clarify some myths around metal before laying out a huge, in-depth, history lesson on the genre.

Ultimate Guitar
I heard some of the most horrifying stories about metal since I became a metalhead. Why? Damn, there are much more horrible stories in hip-hop! I tried to get some of these stories, which I felt represented the overall impression people get nowadays about metalheads. And the recent events regarding Dimebag Darrell's death gave me the last energy surge I needed to clarify some myths. Myth: All metalheads are satanists and pagan-infused monsters. Reality: I'm so overwhelmed by the fact that some people still think those kinds of things. Of course, when you see me coming around with my "Altar Of Sacrifice" Slayer hoodie, it's not that surprising. But hell, I thought that people got open-minded enough to accept the fact that it's SHOWBIZ! Tom Araya is catholic. Dani Filth is not a reincarnation of the demon. Dimmu Borgir aren't worshipping Satan in their basements. Emperor won't sacrifice live animals and humans on stage. Burzum isn't... ok. Bad example... Yeah! There are these specific cases. Burzum is one. Mayhem is one. But you have to remember that these guys are playing music. Whether they play Power, Thrash or Black is not important. Ihsahn, Emperor's frontman once said that "The fact that I play Black Metal does not make me unhuman. I'm in fact someone who laughs and smile a lot. I also cry sometimes." So please, the times where Catholics burned "Number Of The Beast" is over. Music is music. Styles are images used to transmit this music. Myth: Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, System Of A Down and Evanescence are some of the hardest metal bands. Reality: This one is mostly heard in the 12-14 year old range. The first thing that should be done is asking this question: Are they Metal at all? System was once classified as "Alternative Metal". I don't think they still are, but it's true they're hard. Limp and Linkin are coming straight from the Nu-Metal revolution, yet they both took a huge Mainstream Rock step these last years. Evanescence is the American clone of Italian Goth-Metallers Lacuna Coil. But! Evanescence is Gothic Rock, not Metal. The arguable classifications of these bands come from logic. The active use of double-pedal and power-chord based riffing is not a sign of Metalness. If you look for the hardest metal bands, go seek some Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Emperor, Immortal, DarkThrone, Satyricon. (really biased opinion here) Myth: Metal was and still is an underground and shadowy genre. Reality: Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Sonata Arctica, Nightwish, Stratovarius, Dream Theater, Pantera (R.I.P. Dimebag). Underground and shadowy? Yeah right... Myth: Where does Rammstein belong? Reality: Rammstein is Industrial. Industrial was always seen as one of the most fucked-up styles ever, because it can't be classified. Yet Rammstein has a lot of supporters in the Metal camp, so I guess they are Metal, but they could easily be Rock as well. Myth: A metal band must have a Double-Bass equipped drum. Reality: Not really. A double-pedal does the same job. The choice whether the band needs a second bass-drum or not solely belongs the band's drummer. Need examples? In Flames and Soilwork, both major players in the Gothenburg Death Metal genre are double-pedal players. Symphony X, a huge Progressive Metal act is double-pedal-based also. Metallica was double-pedal during the Load/ReLoad/Garage Inc. era. Myth: Metal is solely sound, there ain't no technicality in it. Reality: Uh... Dream Theater anyone? Some of the world's most technical musicians are in Metal bands. Metal is actually the musical genre who allows the most technicality because of its large and almost infinite range. A few myths, some I think being the most stupid. Yet it's really biased. But I just wanted to do a nice intro to my next articles about Metal genres, which are probably going to clarify very specific myths about things very specific to each genre.

136 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Thank you so much for posting this article. Some of these things really needed to be brought to the surface. I've been a practicing Catholic all my life, and I LOVE Gothenburg style, and I have a thrash/death metal band that I'm trying to get off the ground. Thank you for putting this on here.
    Ok, cool article. BUT, another myth: All metalheads break their guitars. Another myth: All metalheads scream too much. Lol, ok those aren't myths, but just shit that's pissing me off cause everyone around me is saying that. They are so stereotypical about metal, they don't even bother to listen anything other than what MTV shows. I don't know how to get anyone to appreciate "rock" music. I mean, ppl don't even know what metal IS.
    [I don't honestly think anyone thinks theres no technique in metal] lol, the frequently voiced opinion of alot of people i kno= "its just crappy noise, no skill or good singin"
    I kno its just one opinion from this guy but it'll help convince my punk/nu-metal friends that me bein a metal-head doesnt make me a devil worshiping suicide craver
    Yeah I know Tom Araya is Catholic. Many people think that all rock musicians(or maybe belong to metal genre) are Satanists. For me, they aren't Satanists and for me, metal is a part of musical genre. A genre that is loud, fast, heavy and skillful.
    darrel dies and the first thing you think of is to write this unrelevant crap about how some bands should be classified?
    Metal Daze
    Nice article, but there is just one little thing bugging me... u cant write an article about metal without even mentioning "MANOWAR"! but seriously besides that very good article!
    I love metal, bit im sticking with the bands who doesnt have a stupid image. Why the *** do lots of metal-bands use satanic symbols if they do not worship the devil? Why sing about stuff you dont believe in? Singing about satan ruling the earth, drinking virgins blood, sacrifising new born babies to the devil and then saying "Im a catholic", thats just plain stupid. I dont walk around with a cross, a david-star, a pentagram or a half moon and there is a very good reason for it: Im not a cristian, jew, satanist or a muslim. Im an atheist and I take the consequenses of it by not going around pretending Im something else. What the *** is th epoint of having an image if its just something you put on when your on stage? I give credit to the bands that take rock and metal forward, preech what they believe in and not some bullshit just to sell records. System of a down, rage against the machine, tool are bands expanding genres, doing stuff that have never been done before. By the way, Mtley Cre, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sisters, TNT, Ozzy and stuff like that isnt metal, its pudel-rock, but they wont admit it themselves. That double-bass crap you wrote at isnt really true. Lots of metal-bands dont use double-bass at all. Sepultura, Roots, is almost free of double-bass (by the way maybe the best metal-album ever) Good meatal bands: Sepultura, SOAD, Tool, Pantera, The Cumshots, Metallica, Black Sabbath (not really metal, but they are the fathers of metal) and many more.
    DAMN DUDE YOU ARE SOOO RIGHT ABOUT THE LAST ONE!! every time i say something like 'you dont need any talent to make trance music because all you do is push a button' someone who likes trance says 'yeah well you dont need any talent to do metal all you have to do is scream into a microphone' I HATE PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT >:-(
    That sounds very stupid, trance sucks and can be made VERY easy. BUT, if you continue to exaggurate you're not gonna make 'em think more about what they say. Metal is VERY skillful. But as there are many ways to play the strings to make metal, there are different ways to push buttons to make trance.
    I don't honestly think anyone thinks that theres no technique in metal...
    it doesnt matter how old you were or how long youve been listening to music...hell i didnt discover real metal until i was 16. I lived a sheltered i never knew anyone that lsitened to any metal...until one day a cousin of a friend threw in a megadeth tape, and 25 seconds into peace sells i was beside myself saying holyshit...ive been missing THIS?....and it was all down hill from there. Yeah i heard all that other bullshit glam crap and GNR was cool but i didnt know this music exsisted...always heard of it but never HEARD it. and when you realy truelyy into it your not worried and wonder whats coming out next from a band you've just discovered...your wondering...what else have they done and you start digging deep, probing for that mind melting metal music...then you discover the different genres and your overwelmed with joy like a crackhead with a whole bag full of rock. A big mistake a lot of people make..and i've been one of them, is that they hear one song from a band and they dont like they just automatically asume that the rest is shit so they dont keep an open mind, thats what music is all about. OPEN YOUR MINDS...its cool to like other music besides metal...unless you into ICP..then your just wierd....and why the hell am i preaching???..:-/
    Great article, in some way instructive. I'm not a total metalhead , but i like a lot IRON MAIDEN, NIGHTWISH, METALLICA(everything before st.anger) , MEGADETH . I like the answer for the myth that believes that Evanscense and linkin Park are metal, now i have good suff to tell classmates that think that way.
    I`m 14, i have never listened to evanesence, linkin park or anything of that, basically because i hate it. But Maiden is great!!I`ve listened to Maiden & Megadeth since I was 4!
    Well aren't you hardcore.
    DAMN DUDE YOU ARE SOOO RIGHT ABOUT THE LAST ONE!! every time i say something like 'you dont need any talent to make trance music because all you do is push a button' someone who likes trance says 'yeah well you dont need any talent to do metal all you have to do is scream into a microphone' I HATE PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT >:-(
    True when some pop listening son of a bitch or rap loving bastard see's me with my Show no Mercy Slayer Shirt or my warpig Motorhead shirt what do they do they classify me as a satanist thats bullshit can't they just think that I like the band for its music.
    yeh gorgoroth sacrificed 10 pigs for satan alot of bands are like that but very underground ones just people can be encouraged by other peoples music to do things like this....i mean mayhem and burzum must have been influenced by black sabbath,judas preist and iron maiden but kinda took everfything to heart
    jazz and metal guitarists are equally as great although they both draw on a different type of musical technicality for example: jazz playing is rooted in many different scales and alot of weird chords are in order whereas most metal revolves round minor and phryigian scales aswell as diminished and chromatics but playing is usually faster and aggresive and the 3rd note in a chord is left out to 'unsex' a chord making it subdued and not really from any scale.jazz solos can be technical but melody is lodged in a proper jazz solo where as metal true alot of solos are wanking but alexi laiho for example solos with asmuch feeling and melody just faster.metal is technical with different techniques not alway musical rules whereas jazz is technical in the way it follows proper music rules though it is by no way limityed to that but jazz playing involves alot of musical knowledge. and to the arcticle just to say lord of the rings is very mainstream and yet thats all fantasy no one mistakes it for satanism its paganism just metal is accused of satanism wen most bands are being patriotic by talking bout their heritage and just making up lord of the ring style songs: since wen were trolls satanic?!
    oh well at last someone posted sense on metal It was all common sense stuff, but metal surely has a lot of people made to believe..
    Iam from Sweden and I live among wolves in the mountains. My father was a norwegian troll and my mom a swedish witch. Now I play Death Metal and eat small childrens.....
    Well.. about church burnings and sacrificing animals and persons.. come to Norway. I think it was on quart festival last year.. I don't remember what band it was, but some band took a live pig up on stage and sacrifised it for satan, live, on stage. But this year, under the cumshots conscert at quart.. two people had sex on stage. that was hillarious! and.. ehm.. cool! And each year we have a "tent" here, where people can have sex and record it :p haha! Come to kr.sand in Norway this summer!
    Good. But I think it is cooler with 2 bassdrums. Because when you use a doublepedal, it sounds "stiff"... I cant explain really.
    Wes Montgomery is a great jazz guitarist. Check out Four On Six. Wicked Song. Some great jazz players u should check out are Wes Montgomery,Charlie Christian, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, George Benson, Earl Klugh, Chet Baker and shuckz, theres heaps more aye, i just cant think of them off the top of my head. If you can play jazz, you can play anything.
    Good article. Extremely accurate and well written. That, almost, sums up my entire outlook on metal. And Chex, Dream Theater, Opeth, 80's Metallica (there are PLENTY more examples) of the most technical bands in metal. Trust me, Petrucci (Dream Theater) will drop their jaws with his playing. Count on it. R.I.P "Dimebag"
    No one will read this post. I don't know if I want to waste my time posting my opinion even... stop labelling everything and stop the hating. Metal rules for me. Others might enjoy shitty shitty rap. Others might even like *shudder* country. Good article, and it kinda shows how there's too much labeling done in music. I'm getting sick of it. Who cares? Just listen to stuff, if you like it, sweet. If you don't then just don't listen to it god dammit. Stop bitching about it and trying to convince people what's best for them, nobody will ever change their closed mind on the issue.
    (continued)As for technicality, that's all bullshit. Both jazz and metal use it as much (opinion), and it really just depends on the band. (Another opinion) Metal does not have more drum and bass possibilities,again, in my opinion, because unless the guitarists in a jazz band sucks, the bassist can't really root note anything. Metal and jazz have an equal amount of drum and bass possibilities, it just all relies on the band and the fact that the two genres are hard to compare. He just has to play what he feels.And for you out there who are like "Metal kicks Jazz's ass." or "Jazz pwns Metal". Don't compare the two unless you actually listen to them. Don't judge me on my opinion.
    Woah, I'll have to hear some Jazz... Anything to suggest on? Where to star?
    no question I'd rather have screw the system vs. satanic shit, but I'd rather listen to Megadeth if I want *** the system music dude...they're stuff is vastly more deep, but when I say SOAD is generic protest stuff I mean in music but ALSO the society...Green Day (worse), SOAD, RATM, they all protest the same stuff, but, more importantly, SOAD made popular the little teenager anti-america shit (I have a friend like this, listens to one SOAD album, thinks it's the holy word of he's a 'generic' liberal). If I want to listen to Protest/Fuck the System/Social Commentary Music, I'll stick to thrash.....IMO SOAD isn't good for anything else (I haven't listened to 'em in years, but from what I remember-no solos, vocals=ok/good, but not good enough to justify listening to, poor/ok riffs-certainly no alice in chains when it comes to riffs...or, for that matter, singing) the attraction of SOAD or even the attraction of the new metal (not nu metal) like Shadows Fall and all that other shit is beyond me....I mean, great guitar (Shadows Fall), but terrible vocals (Hardcore mixed with Thrash mixed w/ Death Metal....terrible combo, considering that thrash is the only genre that really pulls off yelling....if you count pantera as 'thrash') and these people can sing really well normally my personal fave for vocals: Dream Theater finally: does post-Justice pre-Anger Metallica count as Poodle Rock? I've heard 'em described that way before...
    4-string-4-eva: DAMN DUDE YOU ARE SOOO RIGHT ABOUT THE LAST ONE!! every time i say something like 'you dont need any talent to make trance music because all you do is push a button' someone who likes trance says 'yeah well you dont need any talent to do metal all you have to do is scream into a microphone' I HATE PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT >:-( [POSTED: 12 December 2004 - 14:20]|
    Yeah goddamn I hate those people, If somebody says that I say *** you and go listen to some Metallica and look how much skill that requires..and yeah Children Of Bodom kick ass
    Good Article but you are leaving one of the best types of metal out: Big Hair/Glam Metal. You would have to be an idiot to not call Mtley Cre or Guns N' Roses not metal.
    Good article. Enough to show to the friends that call me a satanist cause i listen to SONATA ARCTICA LOL. 4 / 5 stars
    Mr. Clean
    Motley Crue
    /me shivers SOAD can't be classified, it really isn't in one particular genre, it's also like the only new band i listen to Jazz most technical? I'd say, no. Every catagory's got complex stuff, and even if it's complex doesn't mean it's good (but that's often the case) lots of jazz is incredibly simplistic, so is alot of nu-metal. But really, every genre of music (not that fake commercial stuff ) has got interesting, complex stuff, it's not some atrocity that jazz or metal has complex music, some more than each other .
    This is insanely biased and ignorant. NOt all Metal calls for a double bass, nor is it necessary. And please - Thrash Metal is the Mainstream Metal of today because of what it was in the 80's. It hasn't been underground since 1986. Same with Nu-metal; if you're going to write up an article about true metal, consentrating such a great deal of time to nu-metal is absurd.
    ok... sorry. No load isnt poodle either, but if you just download and listen to some TNT then you wwill understand. Poodle-bands are often doing all of the rock clichs. Spinal Tap is in a good movie about a poodle band.
    no, I mean post Thrash Metallica....Load comes to mind (wah pedal repetitive solos etc.)
    EET FUCK BASS: you can not compare SOAD, RATM and Green Day when it comes to lyrics, they do not sing about the same topics. Green Day is generic anti-american bullshit, i agree (just look at the timing for when they decided to "become" political). What they say isnt very controversial in any way. Throwing oneself at the anti-american wave is very generic, but both SOAD or RATM started way before this wave ever came. It is plain stupidity claiming RATM and SOAD is generic, claiming kids are being brainwashed every day at school, USA is using drug money to finanse wars, RATM:"land of the free, whoever told you that is your enemy", SOAD:"revolution the only solution", and so on and so forth. Being a "*** the system"-band is equal to being anti-american (if youre not living in North-Korea or Iran) because USA is the leader of the capitalistic world and the biggest promoter of its values. I f you are opposed to the system you live under you can not like USA. Metallica is not under any circumstances poodle-rock. Metallica is one of the bands defining heavy-metal and have nothing to do with the genre of poodle rock. 80s hard-rock-bands with screaming vocal jerk-of solos and often big fluffy hair. Jerk-of solos meaning solos put in the songs just because the song didnt have a solo, not because it belongs in the song (typical Iron Maiden). Poodle-guitarists often show very good skills on the guitar, but waste their talent on this crappy form of music. A very good example of a poodle-rock-band is the norwegian/american band TNT, the guitarist is skill-wise on of the better in Norway of all times and the vocalist has a truly genre-defining voice. They of course like most poodle-bands say themseves: "We play metal." That is maybe the thing i hate the most about theese bands, aaargh...
    what the hell?!.....Garage Inc Disc II was recorded in the 80's, and you call it a seperate style?!!!! It may be covers, but it's better than anything they were playing at the time....Garage Inc Disc I blows except for Whiskey ok, I think everyone will back me up here, Kill 'em All=Thrash; Load, Reload, Black=Alternativey Shit (very simple, solos suck w/ major wahage); St. Anger=Nu Metal.....also, you notice from the Load era until 2000 or so, they cut out the endings of some of their best thrash era songs (I think it was Master) when they'd play 'em live. Metallica totally sold out black/load and on. I think Rob w/ his suicidal tendencys thrash will bring 'em back.....hopefully...
    is almost everyone here a metalhead? Personally, i dont like metalheads(major generalization) a lot of people i know are metalheads, and they are the most close minded people ever. Oh, nice Symphony X comment, they dont get enough credit.
    Hell no! Metallica have always, throughout all their albums (excluding St.Anger, Which was their low point if you ask me) And their 20 odd years, have kept the same style, take Ride The Lightning, and Load or Reload, The style hasnt changed at all, load and reaload and St.anger being their last 3 albums, all 3 demonstrate the aggression Metallica still possess, now every band has to experiment with different styles of play, Metallica not so much, not a whole album, but did in 2-3 max songs in some albums, they out them where it was needed, every band has to have that, thats what makes them good, So through "kill 'Em all" to "St.Anger" Metallica's style has at most gotten more mature about the way their songs are played, the style aggression and passion all remain the same, With the exception of "Garage Inc." and "Garage Days Revisited" And to some extent "St.Anger" Metallica has always been, and will continue to be pure gold.