Tuesday 9 September 2014

time for primal concrete sledge....

I've been watching a documentary on Sky Arts called "Metal Evolution".  I stumbled across it completely by accident, and it was originally aired in 2011, so it's not exactly new, but I've been watching it avidly ever since.  Basically, it's a guy who drew out a series of family trees of where he thought heavy metal music came from and how it developed, and then went around the world interviewing the people involved.  Each programme is based around a theme: new wave of British heavy metal or thrash or grunge or hair metal or whatever and then tells the story, tracing the origins of the sub-genre and working through the key bands and how it developed.  The theme music is "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden.  I was hooked immediately.

The first programme I watched (episode 3) saw the presenter in England following the thread of bands in the late 60s and early 70s who evolved from the Blues into something much heavier: Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Cream, Led Zeppelin.  It's gripping stuff, although I've particularly enjoyed the episodes on the NWOBHM (inexplicably pronounced as a word by the presenter, and sounding something like nu-wob-ham) and on thrash, where we follow the bands that I grew up with and who formed my gateway into metal: bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica and Anthrax.  Even the hair metal programme was interesting, if only to remind you how ridiculous and vapid most of those bands were, but also to see how the emergence of a "real" band like Guns n'Roses killed the scene almost stone dead overnight and how the members of those bands then really struggled to make ends meet.  I ended up having real respect for some of the survivors (if not for their music or their fashion sense).

The episode on grunge was fascinating mainly because of the way that almost every grunge band went out of their way to deny any metal influence (which is clearly nonsense when you listen to something like Alice in Chains or Soundgarden).  It seems that hair metal made a lasting impression on these guys, and in their jeans and plaid shirts, they were keen to avoid any comparison with their spandex-clad near contemporaries.  Also amusing was the scorn of these guys for the second wave of gruge bands who followed once the record companies went sniffing for more of the same in the wake of the success of Nirvana and Pearl Jam and the like: all tried to sing like Eddie Vedder (apparently that's called "yarling") and all were fairly crap.  Creed seemed to be the subject of the most scorn, which reminded me of the story of when their fans who tried to sue them after a live show because they were so awful.

Anyway.  It's a good show, and the next episode I have on my sky box is about "Nu" metal... Rage Against the Machine and the likes.  Should be good.  Worth checking out.

One consequence of watching the show is that it's had me scurrying back to my old CDs and loading the likes of Anthrax, Slayer and Pantera onto my iPod to listen to at my desk at work.  I first heard Slayer back in about 1988, and they're not half as heavy as I remembered them being, but they are seriously good.  I'm not sure that being caught singing "Raining Blood" out loud at my desk would be a good thing, but on balance "Fucking Hostile" might be worse.

Rock hard, rock heavy, rock animal.


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