The Research of Heavy Metal Music Culture

Music will keep changing forever and one of the genres that attest to this is heavy metal that has fathered many subgenres of metal. There are many factors that can play a role in changing how a genre sounds. One of these may be purely based on what feelings a genre invokes.

Other factors that can change music is what behavior a certain sound and its lyrics are associated with. To get the full picture, though, let’s see a brief history of how heavy metal has changed over the years.

During The New Wave Of Heavy Metal at MS Connexion Complex, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany on 2019-10-03, Photo: Sven Mandel

How heavy metal came to be

When you hear the loud and angry sounding vocals and lyrics of heavy metal artists, you may be wondering what made them become this way. To understand why this genre is so dark, we need to look at what was happening around its inception.

Heavy metal started existing in late 1960. Even though it should’ve been a time for celebrating peace after the Vietnam War, it became a time of upheaval. In the U.S, events like the assassination of Martin Luther King and the Manson Family murders were taking place, whereas the economy was slowing in the U.K.

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Punk elements get introduced

What we might not know about heavy metal nowadays is that it had a different sound in the 70s and late 60s that’s not well known today. The bands that shaped heavy metal into what we know it as nowadays started gaining prominence in the early 1980s by infusing punk elements into metal.

What they did was unprecedented as punk fans were at loggerheads with metal fans because they saw them as passive hippies who listened to whiny music. What made them believe this is that 70s heavy metal lacked the speed, intensified anger, and thrash that was brought to the genre by bands like Metallica and Exodus.

Heavy Metal Singer
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Satanic panic

In the 80s, there was a widespread fear amongst Christian parents that heavy metal, horror movies, and Dungeons & Dragons were the Devil’s tools to erode their children’s morality. Some even believed that heavy metal music could summon demons and that the genre’s fans were sadists and perverts who would abuse their children.

During that time, a psychiatrist known as Lawrence Pazder fed fuel to the Satanic Panic fire by releasing the now-discredited Michelle Remembers bestseller biography. Preachers like Bob Larson also played their part in this charade by claiming that listening to the thrash metal band Slayer can kill children. 

Groove metal

By the end of the 1980s, heavy metal was starting to lose its touch and at the same time, alternative rock and grunge were becoming the in things. These genres brought back the mellow elements from the first generation of metal rock and led some fans to start listening to a new form of metal.

Heavy metal fans that weren’t swayed by the Satan Panic and the advent of grunge started listening to groove metal, which added a melody to the thrash of metal. The smooth sounds of groove metal also brought a lot of heaviness back into heavy metal that the 80s harshness had taken away.

Heavy metal evolves  

Besides grunge, hip-hop is another genre that managed to outdo metal in the 90s as low sounds and percussion made it sound more powerful. Wailing guitar solos that were very popular in the 70s and 80s started losing their edge in a generation that grew up on sound more “solid sounding” low beats.

That new development in musical taste made bands Deftones and Korn incorporate seven-string guitars on their songs that allowed them to play low sounding riffs. The seven-string guitar eventually came under scrutiny from metal purists who didn’t like its bounciness.

Guitar solos make a comeback

Even though seven-string guitars became popular in this new form of heavy metal that became known as nu-metal, they stole what made pure heavy metal fantastic, guitar solos. Nu-metal had replaced guitar solos with vocal bridges or a song’s main melody.

Guitar solos were brought back into heavy metal by two genres metalcore and pop-punk. These genres made screaming over loud guitar freestyles cool again.


Heavy metal has changed a lot over the years and has made it possible for many people to find an escape in the wild nature of this sound. Even those who like metal but are daunted by its harshness can solace in any of the subgenres available that are toned down like grunge. The evolution that heavy metal has gone through over the years is a great way to witness how music keeps getting changed and adapted.

Author’s Bio:

Vendy Adams works for a social welfare organization that functions mainly in Sub-Saharan African countries and promotes education programs for underprivileged children. She’s a brilliant academic writer as well and helps students with their essays and research paper writing work. In her free time, she likes to meditate, do oil painting and read motivational books.