Circa late 1960’s Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne, collectively known as Black Sabbath, produced music which was aggressive, intense and loud! The music was categorised as ‘Heavy Metal’.
Black Sabbath is credited as the first ever band to explore this genre. The electric guitar forms the backbone of heavy metal music. The drummer is usually frantically thrashing the drums, while the guitarists churn out distorted and at times repeated riffs. The vocals styles range from melodic to what can be termed as ‘screaming’!
While other genres portray real-life experiences, politics, love etc, heavy metal mostly talks about religion, taboos, war and injustice. It has a very controversial journey since its inception. The critics have often termed it as over the top and filled with unwanted theatrics, the conservatives find it full of evil lyrical content.
This has not dithered it from becoming one of the most commercially successful genre of rock music. The genre reached its peak in the 70’s. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath ruled the music spectrum. The ‘disco era’ caused a bit of a lull for heavy metal but the religious fans remained faithful to the genre. It made a roaring come back in the 1980’s. Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth were the ‘big 4’. Other bands like Sepultura, Testament, Iron Maiden reached dizzing heights of popularity. The concerts would witness crowds in lakhs. Geared up in mostly all black outfits, long hair, the fan would be a biker or even a company CEO. ‘Moshpits’ at the concerts are not for the faint hearted. As the band performed on the stage the fans would announce their approval by head banging or raising the ‘sign of the horns’.
Heavy metal music in India
Back in the days, India was not a favoured destination for the heavy metal bands. The cassettes would be available on sale at a few outlets across the country. Do not even ask about the merchandise. Metal heads would paint t-shirts with their preferred band’s symbol. A friend of mine painted one with Slayer’s symbol for me. The guy practically got me bankrupt but it was worth it.
The only access to the music videos was MTV’s Headbangers Ball. Host by my friend, Luke Kenny, it would air music videos of heavy metal bands. Another popular medium was the Rock Street Journal magazine. Indian bands like Indus Creed, Pentagram, Parikrama, Millennium ruled the roast.
Now, with the shrinking world, fans are well fed. There is access to the genre on finger tips. Music streaming platforms, online music portals, and digital radio stations offer the fans an uninterrupted flow of music. I was pleasantly surprised by the content aired by Radio City Metal. The digital radio station airs non-stop metal music from Indian metal bands. Radio City Metal’s website publishes news, interviews and relevant information concerning the genre.
Metal music in 2019
Tool and Slipknot are among the many acts who may release a new album in 2019. Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Mansion, Iron Maiden are reportedly finishing their new projects. There is more a ‘waiting period’ to listen to the band’s new music. It will be available across the globe within seconds of its release. With bands like Bhayanak Maut, Godless, Demonic Resurrection, Zygnema, Plague Throat, Sceptre, the Indian heavy metal spectrum is pretty exciting right now. With local pubs hosting the heavy metal bands regularly, there is no dearth of live performances too. The bands are mostly performing original content and this is getting them appreciation from the audience. Indian bands are performing in big metal fests aboard alongside the big boys. As a fan one would not have asked for a better time. The unsatiated me wants more.
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