Heavy metal has long been considered not even music but a roar. Today it attracts people of all social strata and ages. The underground subculture has become a mass phenomenon.
Subculture For Everyone
In the 70s and 80s of the last century, everything looked completely different: the German metalworkers of the first generations terrified ordinary people. With their long hair, black leather outfit, chains, and spiked bracelets, they scared the burghers as much as the punks at the station.
Until the 90s, the conservative German media and the establishment did not hide their antipathy towards this musical genre and its representatives. Metal was accused of glorifying violence and drugs, called the satanic rumble. Metalists, however, were not particularly upset about the imposed image of “bad guys..”
James Hetfield – Vocalist And Rhythm Guitarist For Metallica (2012)
Like all rock, metal has its roots in the blues, but its true fathers are the heavy and psychedelic rock of the 70s. Already Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath played fast and aggressive riffs. Heavy metal came out of this sound at the end of the decade. The fans of the new, louder, and harder music were children of the working class. Then, to the great horror of their conservative parents, children from “good families” also discovered metal.
“This subculture is very tolerant. It is open to everyone, accepts everyone,” says Carsten Schumacher, a 25-year-old music journalist, and a metal fanatic since the 1980s. “You can be a laborer or a professor’s son; it doesn’t matter. It’s important that you share a common passion, delimit yourself as necessary from the mainstream, and understand what others think is ridiculous.”
Differentiation And Commercialization
Metal has become a haven for people who don’t like the mainstream and feel uncomfortable in a normalized society. In the metal environment, both people without any special predilections and fetishes felt comfortable, as well as fans of stoner rock, fans of fantasy role-playing games, geeks, and out-of-school students.
Accordingly, the music became more and more diverse, and in the 80s, numerous subgenres appeared: power metal, speed metal, thrash metal, folk metal, and many others.
The development of heavy music was significantly influenced by the British group Motörhead, although the musicians themselves prefer punk rock.
Soon, metal bands were no longer limited to drummers, guitar, and bass. Medieval lyre, Brazilian drums, jazz solos … Metal was not afraid of musical experiments. At some point, metalists even had initially hated synthesizers.
Is any subculture and informal youth movement gradually becoming a part of the mainstream? According to Scheller, everything is relative. “Such a development is possible in a liberal environment. In fundamental theocracies, of course, it is unlikely. In Iran, for example, metal is still underground. There is nothing in a society like ours that cannot be made the norm,” the German expert believes.
Even more than punk or hip-hop, metal now has a reputation for the highest quality, solid, and reliability. And musicians and fans of this genre are considered very balanced contemporaries. The heavier the music, the quieter the environment? Karsten Schumacher explains it this way: “Regular emissions of internal aggression in a creative context is a kind of mental hygiene. Not least because of this, there are practically no fights at metal festivals.”
Space For Discomfort
Metal – once the dark heart of hard rock, now an easily digestible genre for the masses? Art critic Jörg Scheller is convinced: “The essence of metal, its core, is freedom.” Even today. “Music does not change the world like a tsunami, even if it roars like metal. Music acts slowly but surely, gradually changing hearts and minds.” Today, the metal environment opens up new opportunities for women to express themselves, as Elvis Presley once shaped a new male image in society.