The Evolution of Metal: Debunking the Hair Metal Myth

William Lewis

Updated Saturday, January 13, 2024 at 10:20 PM CDT

The Evolution of Metal: Debunking the Hair Metal Myth

The Distinction Between Hair Metal and Real Metal

When discussing the history of metal, the term "hair metal" often comes up. Bands like Poison, White Lion, and Bon Jovi are commonly associated with this subgenre. However, many metal purists argue that these bands were not actually considered metal by true fans. So, what is the distinction between hair metal and real metal?

Contrary to popular belief, the distinction between hard rock and metal is not solely based on image. It goes beyond the flamboyant hairstyles and flashy outfits. It lies in the musical elements such as lyrics, instrument tuning, and vocal style. Real metal bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and thrash bands were already established during the same time period as the hair metal bands.

The definition of what constitutes metal is subjective and can shift over time. It is similar to how Elvis was considered rock'n'roll in the past, but his sound would be considered more mainstream today. The same can be said for the evolution of metal. As the genre has expanded and diversified, so has the definition of what is considered metal.

Gatekeeping in the metal community, where fans try to define and exclude certain bands from the genre, is seen as a negative and unnecessary practice. The idea that there is a strict criteria for what can be considered metal is outdated. Music is a form of expression, and it should not be limited by arbitrary rules set by self-proclaimed experts.

It is important to note that not all traditional metal bands like Iron Maiden are necessarily "heavier" than bands like Bon Jovi. While Iron Maiden may have a more aggressive sound, they also have melodic, sing-along songs with catchy choruses. The notion that "real metal" has to be difficult to listen to or undigestible is not supported by the history of the genre.

Power metal, a subgenre often associated with complex and epic themes, can have songs as simple as any 3-chord pop song. This further emphasizes the idea that the difficulty or accessibility of a song does not define its metalness. The idea that metal has to be hard to listen to is meaningless, and fans should free themselves from such limitations.

The problem lies in the expanding definition of the metal genre. It now encompasses various styles of music, from the classic sound of bands like Led Zeppelin to the more extreme sounds of death and black metal. This makes it difficult to categorize bands accurately and creates debates about what is "true" metal.

While Led Zeppelin is often considered the first metal band, the sound of modern metal has evolved so much that the term "metal" may no longer accurately describe it. This evolution has given rise to subgenres like hair metal, which can be seen as a different interpretation of metal. Hair metal focuses on technical skill and melodic vocals rather than gritty, aggressive vocals.

Hair metal musicians often display a high level of skill and create unique songs. Their music is worth exploring for music lovers who appreciate catchy hooks, impressive guitar solos, and powerful vocal performances. The opinion that hair metal is still metal may be unpopular among metal gatekeepers, but it is widely accepted by those who simply love music.

the distinction between hair metal and real metal is not solely based on image but rather on musical elements. The definition of what constitutes metal is subjective and can shift over time. Gatekeeping in the metal community is seen as unnecessary, and fans should embrace the diversity within the genre. Hair metal, with its focus on technical skill and melodic vocals, offers a unique interpretation of metal that is worth exploring.

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