Heavy metal, sometimes referred to as simply metal, is a form of music characterised by aggressive, driving rhythms and highly amplified distorted guitars. Its origins lie in the hard rock bands who between 1967 and 1974 took blues and rock and created a hybrid with a heavy, guitar-and-drums-centered sound. From the late 1970s on, many bands would fuse this sound with a revival of European classical music. Heavy metal had its peak popularity in the 1980s, during which many of the now existing subgenres first evolved. Although not as commercially successful as it was then, heavy metal still has a large world-wide following of fans known by terms such as metalheads, headbangers and moshers.
Heavy metal is typically characterized by standard types of instrumentation, especially a guitar, dark themes and lyrics, aggressive, uptempo rhythms and classical or symphonic styles. However, heavy metal subgenres have their own stylistic variations on the original form that often omit many of these characteristics.
According to Allmusic.com, "Of all rock & roll's myriad forms, heavy metal is the most extreme in terms of volume, machismo, and theatricality. There are numerous stylistic variations on heavy metal's core sound, but they're all tied together by a reliance on loud, distorted guitars (usually playing repeated riffs) and simple, pounding rhythms."
The most commonly used line-up for metal is a drummer, a bassist, a rhythm guitarist, a lead guitarist (in early metal bands a single guitarist often sufficed — see power trio) and a singer (who is sometimes also one of the instrumentalists). Keyboards are used in some styles of heavy metal and shunned by others. Guitar playing is very important in heavy metal. Distorted amplification of the guitars, with effects and electronic processing, is used to thicken or amplify the sound. The result is simple, although some of the original heavy metallers joked that their simplified sound was more the result of limited ability than of innovation.
Heavy metal singers have wide variety in sounds among them, from mid-range clean vocals, to high-pitched wails, to deep growls. The black and death metal scene tends to use distorted and guttural death grunts (exemplified by the band Possessed). Generally, it is hard to understand what the singer is "singing". Often, the text is considered to be too crude to be sung clearly (such as in Cannibal Corpse), but there are some bands (such as Eudoxis and Bolt Thrower) that will have more traditional lyrics obscured by the style of the singing.
Intricate solos and riffs are a big part of heavy metal music. Guitarists use sweep-picking, tapping and similar techniques for rapid playing.
The American band Grand Funk Railroad was one of the early proto-heavy metal bands (along with The Who, for example) that set new benchmarks for sound volume during shows. The volume of the music was seen as a factor equal in importance to its other qualities. Though this influence is often denigrated as pointless extravagance, it has proven enormously influential, and still dominates many people's perceptions of the genre. Motörhead and Manowar are more recent examples of bands that pride themselves on keeping the volume very high (see Manowar's 1984 song "All Men Play On Ten"). This behavior was mocked in the rockumentary spoof This Is Spinal Tap by guitarist "Nigel Tufnel", who revealed that his Marshall amplifiers had been modified to "go to eleven."
Heavy metal, as an art form, is more than just music; it is as much visual as it is audible. Album covers and stage shows are almost as important to the presentation of the material as the music itself, although they seldom exceed the actual music in priority. Thus, through heavy metal, many artists collaborate to produce a menu of experiences in each piece, offering a wider range of experiences to the audience. In this respect, heavy metal becomes perhaps more of a diverse art form than any single form dominated by one method of expression. Whereas a painting is experienced visually, a symphony experienced audibly, a heavy metal band's "image" and the common theme that binds all their music is expressed in the artwork on the album, the set of the stage, the tone of the lyrics, in addition to the sound of the music.
Rock historians tend to find that the influence of Western pop music gives heavy metal its escape-from-reality fantasy side, as an escape from reality through outlandish and fantastic lyrics, while African-American blues gives heavy metal its naked reality side, focusing on loss, depression and loneliness. Heavy metal has a relationship with spiritual issues in both symbol and music theory, as heavy metal chords and harmonies emphasize the use of open fifths, drawing ironic parallels to harmony changes in Christian Sacred Harp singing.
If the audio, and thematic components of heavy metal are predominantly blues-influenced reality, then the visual component is predominantly pop-influenced fantasy. The themes of darkness, evil, power, and apocalypse are fantastic language components for addressing the reality of life's problems. Further, in reaction to the "peace and love" hippie culture of the 1960s, heavy metal developed as a counterculture, where light is supplanted by darkness, and the happy ending of pop is replaced by the naked reality that things do not always work out in this world. Whilst fans claim that the medium of darkness is not the message, critics have accused the genre of glorifying the negative aspects of reality.
Heavy metal themes are typically more grave than the generally airy pop from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, focusing on war, nuclear annihilation, environmental issues, political and religious propaganda. Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", Ozzy Osbourne's "Killer of Giants" and Metallica's "...And Justice for All" are examples of serious contributions to the discussion of the state of affairs. The commentary on reality sometimes tends to become over-simplified because the fantastic poetic vocabulary of heavy metal deals primarily with very clear dichotomies of light and dark, hope and despair, good and evil, which do not make much room for complex shades of grey. One exception to this are certain power metal bands, whose lyrical and musical tones are often bombastic and optimistic. Many power metal fans and bands, most notably Manowar believe metal should be inspiring and upbeat music.
Some might differentiate by observing that pure heavy metal does not generally sing about love, while many hair metal songs are focused on love. In some respects, one might argue that the hair metal scene of the 1980s was the logical endpoint of the glitter or glam rock movement of the 1970s; the visual similarities between the two, with the make-up and fanciful costumes, makes the argument more compelling. Glitter rock, however, was lyrically focused on sexual ambiguity, free expression and individuality, while hair metal was unambiguously macho and heterosexual, with little room for diversity of political or social opinions. Ultimately, "pure" heavy metal would position itself at the periphery of pop culture, never quite at centre, and metal denizens contend that the move towards the centre was a commercialism that compromised both the artistic integrity of the form and the opportunity for messages to be taken seriously. A lot of modern metal bands, especially gothic metal, progressive metal and power metal often include love songs, but they tend to be dark, dramatic and highly romantic, far from glam metal's partying and easy sex lyrics. Though some extreme metal fans find the lyrics of bands such as Opeth and Nightwish to be too soft for their tastes, few deny that they are still 'true metal' and they do not receive the criticism that teen angst based nu metal lyrics do.
The appropriation of classical music by heavy metal typically includes the influence of Bach and Paganini rather than Mozart or Franz Liszt. Though Deep Purple/Rainbow guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had been experimenting with musical figurations borrowed from classical music since the early 1970s, Edward Van Halen's solo cadenza "Eruption" (released on Van Halen's first album in 1978) marks an important moment in the development of virtuosity in metal. Following Van Halen, the "classical" influence in metal guitar during the 1980s actually looked to the early eigtheenth century for its model of speed and technique. Indeed, the late Baroque era of western art music was also frequently interpreted through a gothic lens. For example, "Mr. Crowley," (1981) by Ozzy Osbourne and guitarist Randy Rhoads, uses both a pipe organ-like synthesizer and Baroque-inspired guitar solos to create a particular mood for Osbourne's lyrics on the legendary occultist Aleister Crowley. Like many other metal guitarists in the 1980s, Rhoads quite earnestly took up the "learned" study of musical theory and helped to solidify the minor industry of guitar pedagogy magazines (such as Guitar for the Practicing Musician) that grew up during the decade. In most instances, however, metal musicians who borrowed the technique and rhetoric of art music were not attempting to be classical musicians. (An exception can arguably be found in Yngwie Malmsteen, though many argue that his music relies more on virtuosity and the use of classical-sounding elements such as the harmonic minor scale to appear classical without actually being classical).
The Encarta encyclopedia claims that "when a text was associated with the music, Bach could write musical equivalents of verbal ideas". Progressive rock bands such as Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and Yes had already explored this relationship before heavy metal evolved. As heavy metal uses apocalyptic themes and images of power and darkness, the ability to translate verbal ideas into musical ideas that successfully convey the ideas of the words is critical to heavy metal authenticity and credibility. An excellent example of this is the theme album Powerslave, by Iron Maiden. The cover is of a dramatic Egyptian pyramid scene, and many of the songs on the album have subject matter that requires a sound suggestive of life and death, including a song entitled "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", based on the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. However, the 1977 Rush album A Farewell to Kings features the twelve-minute "Xanadu," also inspired by Coleridge and predating the Iron Maiden composition by several years. Bassist Steve Harris has also cited progressive rock bands such as Rush and Yes as influences on his own considerable talents.
The term "heavy metal"
The origin of the term heavy metal in relation to a form of music is uncertain. The term had been used for centuries in chemistry and metallurgy and is listed as such in the Oxford English Dictionary. An early use of the term in modern popular culture was by counter-culture writer William S. Burroughs. In his 1962 novel The Soft Machine, he introduces the character "Uranian Willy, the Heavy Metal Kid". His next novel in 1964 Nova Express, develops this theme further, heavy metal being a metaphor for addictive drugs.
"With their diseases and orgasm drugs and their sexless parasite life forms - Heavy Metal People of Uranus wrapped in cool blue mist of vaporized bank notes - And the Insect People of Minraud with metal music" (Burroughs, William S, (1964). Nova Express. New York: Grove Press. p. 112) Given the publication dates of these works it is unlikely that Burroughs had any intent to relate the term to rock music; however, Burroughs' writing may have influenced later usage of the term.
The first use of the term "heavy metal" in a song lyric is the words "heavy metal thunder" in the 1968 Steppenwolf song "Born to be Wild" (Walser 1993, p. 8):
"I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin' with the wind
And the feelin' that I'm under"
The book, "The History of Heavy Metal," states the name as a take from "hippiespeak", heavy meaning anything with a potent mood, and metal, more specifically designating what the mood would be, grinding and weighted as metal. The word "heavy" (meaning serious or profound) had entered beatnik/counterculture slang some time earlier, and references to "heavy music"—typically slower, more amplified variations of standard pop fare—were already common; indeed, Iron Butterfly first started playing Los Angeles in 1967, their name explained on an album cover, "Iron- symbolic of something heavy as in sound, Butterfly- light, appealing and versatile...an object that can be used freely in the imagination" Iron Butterfly's 1968 debut album was entitled Heavy. The fact that Led Zeppelin (whose moniker came partly in reference to Keith Moon's jest that they would "go down like a lead balloon") incorporated a heavy metal into its name may have sealed the usage of the term.
In the late 1960s, Birmingham, England was still a centre of industry and (given the many rock bands that evolved in and around the city, such as Led Zeppelin, The Move, and Black Sabbath), some people suggest that the term Heavy Metal may have some relation to such activity. Biographies of The Move have claimed that the sound came from their 'heavy' guitar riffs that were popular amongst the 'metal midlands'.
Sandy Pearlman, original producer, manager and songwriter for Blue Öyster Cult, claims to have been the first person to apply the term "heavy metal" to rock music in 1970.
A widespread but disputed hypothesis about the origin of the genre was brought forth by "Chas" Chandler, who was a manager of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1969, in an interview on the PBS TV programme "Rock and Roll" in 1995. He states that "...it [heavy metal] was a term originated in a New York Times article reviewing a Jimi Hendrix performance", and claims the author described the Jimi Hendrix Experience "...like listening to heavy metal falling from the sky". The precise source of this claim, however, has not been found and its accuracy is disputed.
The first well-documented usage of the term "heavy metal" referring to a style of music, appears to be the May 1971 issue of Creem, in a review of Sir Lord Baltimore's Kingdom Come. In this review we are told that "Sir Lord Baltimore seems to have down pat most all the best heavy metal tricks in the book". Creem critics David Marsh and Lester Bangs would subsequently use the term frequently in their writings, often in negative connotations in regards to bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Regardless of its origin, heavy metal may have been used as a jibe initially but was quickly adopted by its adherents. Other, already-established bands, such as Deep Purple, who had origins in pop or progressive rock, immediately took on the heavy metal mantle, adding distortion and additional amplification in a more aggressive approach.
Origins (1960s and early 1970s)
American blues music was highly popular and influential among the early British rockers; bands like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds had recorded covers of many classic blues songs, sometimes speeding up the tempo and using electric guitar where the original used acoustic. (Similar adaptations of blues and other race music had formed the basis of the earliest rock and roll, notably that of Elvis Presley).
Such powered-up blues music was encouraged by the intellectual and artistic experimentation that arose when musicians started to exploit the opportunities of the electrically amplified guitar to produce a louder and more dissonant sound. Where blues-rock drumming styles had been largely simple shuffle beats on small drum kits, drummers began using a more muscular, complex, and amplified approach to match and be heard with the increasingly loud guitar sounds; similarly vocalists modified their technique and increased their reliance on amplification, often becoming more stylised and dramatic in the process. Simultaneous advances in amplification and recording technology made it possible to successfully capture the power of this heavier approach on record.
The earliest music commonly identified as heavy metal came out of the Birmingham area of the United Kingdom in the late 1960s when bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath applied an overtly non-traditional approach to blues standards and created new music often based on blues scales and arrangements. These bands were highly influenced by American psychedelic rock musicians including Jimi Hendrix, who had pioneered amplified and processed blues-rock guitar and acted as a bridge between black American music and white European rockers.
Other oft-cited influences include Vanilla Fudge, who had slowed down and psychedelicised pop tunes, as well as earlier British rockers such as The Who and The Kinks, who had paved the way for heavy metal styles by introducing power chords and more aggressive percussion to the rock genre. Another key influence was Cream, who exemplified the power trio format that would become a staple of heavy metal. Perhaps the earliest song that is clearly identifiable as prototype heavy metal is "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks (1965). Some also cite The Beatles as a key influence; they had increasingly used distortion and heavier arrangements as early as 1967's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
By late 1968 heavy blues sounds were becoming common: many fans and scholars point to Blue Cheer's 1968 cover of Eddie Cochran's hit "Summertime Blues" as the first true heavy-metal song; Beatles scholars cite in particular the song "Helter Skelter" from The White Album (1968), which set new standards for distortion and aggressive sound on a pop album. Dave Edmunds' band Love Sculpture released an aggressive heavy guitar version of Khachaturian's Sabre Dance in November 1968. The Jeff Beck Group's album Truth (late 1968) was an important and influential rock album released just before Led Zeppelin's first album, leading some (especially British blues fans) to argue that Truth was the first heavy metal album. The Yardbirds' 1968 single "Think About It" should also be mentioned, as that employed a similar sound to that which Jimmy Page would employ with Led Zeppelin.
Also, progressive rock band King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" from their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), featured most of the thematic, compositional and musical characteristics of heavy metal: a very heavily distorted guitar tone and discordant soloing by Robert Fripp, lyrics that focused on what is wrong about what the 21st century human would be, a dark mood and even Greg Lake's vocals were passed through a distortion box.
However, it was the release of Led Zeppelin in 1969 that brought worldwide notice of the formation of a new genre. The first heavy metal bands -- Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, UFO and Black Sabbath, among a few -- are often now called hard rock bands by the modern metal community rather than heavy metal, especially those bands whose sound was more similar to traditional rock music. In general, the terms heavy metal and hard rock are often used interchangeably, in particular when discussing the 1970s. Indeed, many such bands are not considered "heavy metal bands" per se, but rather as having contributed individual songs or works that contributed to the genre; few would consider Jethro Tull a heavy metal band in any real sense, for example, but few would dispute that their song Aqualung was a quintessential early Heavy Metal song.
Classic Heavy Metal (Late 1970s and early 1980s)
The late 1970s and early 1980s history of heavy metal music is highly debated among music historians. Some would call the period an era of "selling-out", in which bands like Blue Öyster Cult achieved moderate mainstream success and the Los Angeles hair metal scene began finding pop audiences, especially in the 1980s. Others ignore or downplay the importance of these bands, instead focusing on the arrival of classical influences, which can be heard in the work of Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads and such like. Others still highlight the late-70s cross-fertilization of heavy metal with fast-paced, youthful punk rock (e.g. Sex Pistols), culminating in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal around the year 1980, led by bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.
Many people, including Heavy Metal musicians of prominent groups, believe that the foundations of the definite style and sound of pure heavy metal were laid down by Judas Priest (another Birmingham band) with three of their early albums: Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976), Sin After Sin (1977) and Stained Class (1978). (Rainbow are also sometimes cited as pioneering a sort of pure heavy metal, and one could also make this claim about the later albums of Deep Purple such as Burn and Stormbringer, but these bands are generally considered to be hard rock bands). Beginning with Judas Priest, metal bands quickly began to look beyond the almost exclusive use of the blues scale to incorporate diatonic modes into their solos. This has since spread throughout virtually all sub-genres of metal (some doom metal, following in Black Sabbath's footsteps, being the main exception) and along with an overriding sense of musicianship are the main contributions classical and jazz (via progressive rock) have made to the genre.
The explosion of guitar virtuosity (pioneered by Jimi Hendrix a musical generation earlier) was brought to the fore by Eddie Van Halen, and many consider his 1978 solo "Eruption" (Van Halen, 1978) a milestone. Ritchie Blackmore (formerly of Deep Purple), Randy Rhoads (with pioneers Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot) and Yngwie Malmsteen went on to solidify this explosion of virtuoso guitar work, and in some cases, classical guitars and nylon-stringed guitars were played at heavy metal concerts. Classical icons such as Liona Boyd also became associated with the heavy metal stars as peers in a newly diverse guitar fraternity where conservative and aggressive guitarists could come together to "trade licks".
This explosion would cool down in the music of Ronnie James Dio (who himself had a tenure at lead vocals with the legendary Black Sabbath) and continue to settle towards Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, who may be the final and complete consummation of "pure" heavy metal in the lineage of the "grandfathers" - Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath.
Metal Goes Mainstream (1980s)
In a related development, taking place mostly in the U.S., heavy metal would return full circle through the pop vanity of the L.A. scene, led by Mötley Crüe. In the beginning, this form was led by legends like Judas Priest, Dio, Dokken and Twisted Sister. During the 1980s, a pop-based form of hard rock, with a party-hearty spirit and a glam-influenced visual aesthetic (sometimes referred to as "hair metal" due to the long and painstakingly-styled hair of band members) dominated the music charts in some parts of the world, and superstars like Def Leppard, Poison, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, and Ratt helped lead the way. While their music has endured as representative of a particular view, time and place, this form is not always seen by metal purists as a particularly pure or well-executed form of metal. The 1987 debut of Guns N' Roses, a hard rock band with its Aerosmith influences worn prominently on its sleeve, and whose image reflected the grittier underbelly of the Sunset Strip, was at least in part a reaction against the overly-polished image of hair metal, but that band's wild success was in many ways the last gasp of the L.A. hard-rock and metal scene.
Underground Metal (1980s, 1990s, and 2000s)
By the mid-1980s, as the term "heavy metal" became the subject of much contestation, heavy metal had branched out in so many different directions that new sub-classifications were created by fans, record companies, and fanzines, although sometimes the differences between various sub-genres were unclear, even to the artists purportedly belonging to a given style (see List of heavy metal genres).
A notable early 80s sub-genre was thrash metal, pioneered by the 'Big Four Of Thrash' ( Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer, with San Francisco quintet Testament sometimes being included in this group). In the early and mid 1980s thrash began to split further into Death Metal, led by Possessed and Death, and black metal (a term coined by Venom, who themselves lacked most integral characteristics of the genre, such as the buzz-saw vocals) and Denmark's Mercyful Fate who are often considered the originaters of the "Corpse Paint" and Satanic and Pagan themes, in which Bathory (generally considered one of the first black metal acts although later deemed to be more in tune with Viking culture) and Mayhem were key players early on. Progressive Metal, a fusion of the progressive stylings of bands like Rush and King Crimson and Traditional Metal began in the '80s, too, behind innovators like Fates Warning and later Queensrÿche and Dream Theater, who enjoyed substantial mainstream acceptance and success in the hair metal era. Melo-Death, in many ways similar instrumentally to Iron Maiden, but with high-pitched death vocals instead of semi-operatic, arose out of the Gothenburg scene circa 1990, with Dark Tranquillity (and vocalist Anders Fridén's later band, In Flames) and At the Gates at the forefront. The modern forms of doom metal and power metal came into existence around the same time period with Candlemass and Helloween, respectively. Other notable metal genres include gothic metal, and stoner metal. These sub-genres, though now prominent, generally have little or no commercial audiences, although Metallica and Megadeth did go on to win over legions of new fans with a more commercial sound, a move that greatly upset some of their original fan base.
Alternative Metal (1990s and 2000s)
Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, System of a Down, Tool, Motörhead appeared among others.The era of mainstream metal, or "Hair Metal," came to an end with the emergence of Nirvana and other grunge bands. Later styles of heavy rock music in the 1990s show influences of heavy metal but are typically not labelled sub-genres of heavy metal.
As the 1990s progressed metal began to make a comeback. This time around, the music had a much more aggressive feel than most of the mainstream metal of the 1980s. In some cases, bands also fused traditional elements with electronic beats and samples as well as the conventions and attitude of alternative rock. These newer bands are sometimes labeled alternative metal. Still more subgenres began to appear, such as funeral doom and brutal death metal, drawing on existing heavy metal subgenres.
Heavy metal's comeback was soldified with the arrival of Ozzfest in 1996, a touring music festival hosted by Ozzy Osbourne, the former lead singer of Black Sabbath. Later, Osbourne grew even more famous when he and his family starred in a reality TV show called The Osbournes. Many major newer metal bands eventually wound up playing at Ozzfest sooner or later, including Pantera, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Disturbed, Godsmack, Tool, System of a Down, Queens of the Stone Age, Slipknot, Korn, and many more. Some of these bands were grouped under the heading nu metal in order to signify a new wave of metal music; however, much debate has arisen over the genre's massive success and whether or not it is metal in a conventional sense. Yet some modern artists like Avenged Sevenfold have brought an older sound to the new generation. In recent years, Ozzfest has had many metalcore bands playing at the festival and has helped gain the genre much popularity. Some see this style as nu metal's successor, whilst others believe that it will become popular and fashionable in the same way as nu metal.
The loud, confrontational aspects of heavy metal have led to friction between fans and mainstream society in many countries. Due to the hedonistic nature public perception thinks of as being promoted by the music and its occasional anti-religious sentiments, some heavy metal as a sub-culture has come under attack in many Islamic and Christian countries where even wearing a black T-shirt can be an arrestable offence. In Jordan, for example, all Metallica albums, past, present and future were banned in 2001. In Europe and America, the fan base for heavy metal consists primarily of white males in their teens and 20's, many of whom are attracted to heavy metal's overtly anti-social yet fantastical lyrics and extreme volume and tempos. Hence, the stereotype of the spotty-faced, adolescent headbanger venting his rebellious urges by listening to presposterously loud, morbid music. This image has been highlighted in popular culture with such television shows and movies as "Beavis and Butt-head"" and "Airheads". Heavy metal's bombastic excesses, exemplified by hair metal, have often been parodied, most famously in the film This Is Spinal Tap (see also the phenomenon of the heavy metal umlaut).
Many heavy metal stylings have made their way into everyday (albeit ironic) use; for instance, the "devil horns" hand sign popularized by Ronnie James Dio and Gene Simmons has become a common sight at many rock concerts. During the 1970s and 1980s, flirtation with occult themes by artists such as Ozzy Osbourne, W.A.S.P. and Iron Maiden led to accusations of "Satanic" influences in heavy metal by fundamentalist Christians. One popular contention during that period was that heavy metal albums featured hidden messages urging listeners to worship the Devil or to commit suicide (see Judas Priest and backward message and Allegations of Satanism in popular culture).
Hard rock, mentioned earlier, is also closely related to heavy metal (and at times the terms overlap in usage), but it does not consistently match the description of what purists consider the definition of heavy metal. While still guitar-driven in nature and usually riff-based, its themes and execution differ from that of the major heavy metal bands listed earlier in this article. This is perhaps best examplified by The Who in the late-1960s and early-1970s, as well as other 1970s and 1980s bands like KISS, Queen, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC and Scorpions.
Glam rock, a short-lived era in the early 1970s, relied on heavy, crunchy guitars, anthemic songs, and a theatrical image. T. Rex, David Bowie and Alice Cooper are among the more popular standard examples of this sub-genre.
Some cross-influence has occurred between punk rock and heavy metal. Motörhead, for example, was an influence on many punk bands. Some hardcore punk bands such as DRI and Suicidal Tendencies began playing more metal-like music as they progressed. Punk has also had a large influence on metal, particularly with relation to grindcore. Thrashcore, crust punk and grindcore all have notable influence from both punk and metal. Also, Grunge is frequently described as Heavy Metal fused with punk's DIY ethic.
Heavy metal and progressive rock developed in and around the same scenes, particularly in Great Britain, and as a result several metal bands worked progressive elements into their sound throughout the genre. Albums such as Seventh Son of a Seventh Son by Iron Maiden draw progressive elements, and bands such as Queensryche and Dream Theater pioneered a fusion of the two genres. Progressive rock bands like Phish have also admitted influence from various heavy metal bands.
Heavy metal (along with progressive rock) has also been cited as (ironically) an influence on the "easy-listening" Adult Oriented Rock genre of the 1980s. Toto guitarist Steve Lukather has cited early hard rock and heavy metal music as a profound influence on his playing, and is notably evident on the track "Hold The Line" which shares some common traits with traditional metal. Other AOR bands such as Journey and supergroup Asia often incorporated power chord riffs into their music. Ironically, some metal bands such as Def Leppard, Scorpions, Europe and Van Halen started moving into a "softer" and more commercial musical direction in the late 1980s, which resulted in the term "Soft Metal" being used during that period.
Controversy from within the genre
Recent years have seen an appropriation of the heavy metal genre by mass culture, most notably (as would be expected) by music and clothing industries. The rise of nu metal and alternative metal in the 1990s attracted heavy criticism from metal fans due to its integration of influences from hip hop, alternative rock, industrial rock, and funk with heavy metal, so much so that many metalheads do not see it as being a genre of metal at all. Nu/alt metal is often seen as removing the core aspects of metal: the instrumental virtuosity (especially guitar solos), powerful and often fantastical themes and 'proper' vocals (hardcore screams and rapping are seen by many older metalheads as mindless and weak alternatives to singing and growling). The dress taken up by alt-metal fans and marketed by certain retailers borrows more from goth, rap, punk, and grunge fashion than traditional metal attire, with hooded sweatshirts, baggy jeans, sports attire, and piercings and dyed hair being common. Such individuals are often referred to as "mini-moshers", "mallcore kids", "mallgoths", "angsters" etc.
Heavy metal dance
Although most heavy metal fans would disagree with the term "dance," there are certain body movements that are nearly universal in the metal world, including headbanging, moshing, and various hand gestures such as devil horns. Stage diving, air guitar and crowd surfing are also practiced. With the advent of the metalcore genre, hardcore dancing, characterized by swinging of the arms, the "two-step", spinkicks are also seen. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)