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What Makes Metal Music Metal?

Posted in: Forum Home >> General Music Discussion >> What Makes Metal Music Metal?

Displaying 22 posts
Displaying 22 posts
Jul 15, 2009 9:08 AM ET #1 (permalink)

Ever since I took a history of rock n roll class in college, I've wondered what musical elements separate metal from hard rock and other music.

Now of course more extreme types of metal have specific points (like blast beats) that are clearly metal. But even so, there are still similarities between death metal and rock n roll.

Here's a good example: Why is AC/DC usually considered hard rock, but Black Sabbath heavy metal? Both are aggressive, blues based rock n roll.

We know metal when we hear it, but what is it that separates metal from all else?

Jul 15, 2009 9:12 AM ET #2 (permalink)

black sabbath was metal cause of occult lyrical content and excessively over driven guitars. basically metal is rock and rock with a lot of classical influence.

Jul 20, 2009 11:39 AM ET #3 (permalink)

What makes metal?

We could try to define it all day long. What I think it boils down to is Intensity.

Any good band uses emotion to drive their lyrics and sound progression. It is just how Intense they push that emotion at the listener that makes them metal. For example:

Two bands are singing about revolting against an oppressor. One band the Jam Band uses light to no intensity to get that message across, however on the other end of the scale is a band like Arch Enemy who sings about the same issue just the Intensity is pushed way up.

We could easily get into time signatures, riffing, soloing, and blast beats trying to determine "What is metal?" but that would do us no good because other styles of music use those same things in different ways. I don't think it is the tools you use but what you build that makes you METAL.

Jul 20, 2009 2:55 PM ET #4 (permalink)

nice, i like it. a different way of looking at it that I considered before

Jul 20, 2009 8:48 PM ET #5 (permalink)

Metal is kind of like Rock, only less diluted, more solid, heavier, is better at conducting electricity, and is susceptible to magnetic fields. It's also better for making screws out of, but will rust if not played correctly.

Jul 20, 2009 9:30 PM ET #6 (permalink)

@psythe, I think that was one of the best analogies about metal that i've ever heard.
I definitely think it has a lot to do with intensity, it's also more specified than rock because rock can range from country rock to hard rock, etc. whereas death metal, black metal, pirate metal, and such, they're all generally heavy music, and they all for the most part have drums, electric guitar, bass, and keyboard, though apocalyptica only has cellos, other than when they bring in guests. i guess it's safe to say that it's intensity for the most part.

(This post was last edited on July 20, 2009 at 9:31 PM ET.)

Jul 21, 2009 1:08 AM ET #7 (permalink)

What makes Metal,Metal?One word...


Jul 21, 2009 3:33 PM ET #8 (permalink)

Thanks Gogoroth.

Jul 21, 2009 9:08 PM ET #9 (permalink)

all of those musicians knew that somewhere out there waits more harder and more aggressive type of their music.
Its all about brain (ideas to create), hands, and throat.

Jul 21, 2009 10:41 PM ET #10 (permalink)

^And balls. You can't be metal if you ain't got the minerals.

Jul 22, 2009 5:52 AM ET #11 (permalink)

Yea, agreed. Unbreakable, mixed minerals.

Jul 22, 2009 6:31 AM ET #12 (permalink)

It`s all about love!!! xD

Jul 22, 2009 9:36 AM ET #13 (permalink)

Hopefully not Balls in the literal sense, because Arch Enemy is definitely metal and Angela doesn't have balls....well maybe she does.

Jul 22, 2009 9:20 PM ET #14 (permalink)

She has innie balls lol

Metal really IS all about love hahah! :D

Jul 22, 2009 10:57 PM ET #15 (permalink)

Not smart enough to answer the question (although I believe some people have provided good answers), but I'd like to share something. When Metal bands compose a slow song (not just slow, but even acoustic or ballad like), it still has that 'Metal' vibe to it for some reason; I don't know exactly how that is, but that's pretty cool. I'm going to assume that songs do that only when you're aware it's a Metal band playing it, but that's just a possibility.

(This post was last edited on July 22, 2009 at 11:14 PM ET.)

Jul 22, 2009 11:15 PM ET #16 (permalink)

^Could have something to do with the guitars, metal bands often use different tunings and effects and so on to other bands. But more than likely it's simply because you know the band playing it usually plays metal, so you've pre-associated the song with metal before even hearing it.

For example, if Amon Amarth came out with a power ballad, I would probably still think it was pretty metal, even though power ballads are generally done by rock groups (eg Bon Jovi or Guns N Roses). Oh, and personally I don't consider Power metal as being the same as a rock group's power ballad, just thought I'd make that distinction there.

So my answer is, it's more than likely psychological in that we have predetermined associations going on in our heads. But it could also be influenced by things like guitar tuning and such (you'd probably want to ask someone who actually plays guitar for verification/detail on that lol).

Jul 23, 2009 4:15 AM ET #17 (permalink)

Ballads and mosh. Take Slipknot - there are so many acoustic stuff over there, and they sound good.
In other view, Slayer, for example, didn`t took any chances of making ballads/acoustics, back to `83, and it sounds better. Much better.

Jul 23, 2009 1:57 PM ET #18 (permalink)

*Ladies Man voice* Yea it is all about the love,you know what I'm sayin'.I say ELE.Now you might be askin' yoself 'O Hammer what's ELE?'It means everybody love everybody.I remember this one crazy night when I was in Taiwan,I mean I thought she was a woman but apparently I was wrong...dead wrong,but there was some love that night,you know what I'm sayin'.

Jul 24, 2009 11:14 PM ET #19 (permalink)

I don't think anybody can say what makes metal metal. Metalheads know what makes it metal, but it's very hard to explain, so why try? it's kickass music!

Jul 25, 2009 4:05 AM ET #20 (permalink)

"I don't think anybody can say what makes metal metal."

Yeah, well I think I'm sticking to what I said in my first post lol. Any explanation further to what I said there would require a more detailed look at the elements...

Swish lol.

Aug 1, 2009 9:56 AM ET #21 (permalink)


Aug 1, 2009 3:57 PM ET #22 (permalink)

Has no disguise!

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