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From Hell's Heart

"From Hell's Heart..." is an editorial column written by the team. Every other month or so we pick a metal-related topic and share our thoughts, feelings and ideas on it.

Check out past editorials

Heavy Metal - The All Encompassing Genre? (September 2001)

Heavy Metal - The All Encompassing Genre?
By EvilG

To put it simply, the thing about metal that keeps me coming back for more is the fact that it is so diverse. Those on the outside view metal as ONE type of music both lyrically and musically. Those of use who listen to a lot of metal know that metal is the most open form of music available. The fact the there are so metal many sub-genres is one example but more so is the willingness of bands to incorporate new ideas and elements to their music. Some of the things that metal has incorporated include: opera singers, choirs, orchestras, jazz, dance beats, industrialized sounds, punk, violins, piano, flutes, blues, middle eastern melodies and instrumentation, Celtic melodies and instrumentation, medieval sounds and instrumentation, folk music, rap music, etc, etc, etc. Of course not all these elements are always successfully entwined with our beloved heavy metal!! But the point here is not to point out the failures or the successes of metal's melting pot. The point here is just to show that metal is indeed an all-encompassing genre.

Metal has it's OWN elements of course, but in my opinion heavy metal which many view as a close minded musical style is exactly the opposite particularly when it comes to it's musicians. When was the last time you heard a pop/dance artist use a blast beat, or a ripping guitar solo? When you take a musical genre like for example country. Do we have power country, death country, black country, etc? No way!! That is not to say there are not variations within that musical style. But it does say to me that the variations within the style are hardly wide enough to result in sub-genres with a clear distinction like we have with metal. It also says that many of these other forms of music are the ones with "musicians" who are limiting themselves by playing within a "box". In metal there are bands that play within a box and there are those that don't. The point is, the shape of the box that metal encompasses differs from band to band or more so in the case between sub-genres.

So what is the result to all this? The result for me is that heavy metal has become something that I listen to almost exclusively. It is varied enough in topics and musical styles that I cannot imagine getting bored with it. Long live metal!!!

Here are a just some of the bands that have in my opinion been experimental and that I have liked. That is not to say that these bands are better then for example a straight up "pure" heavy metal band! These are just examples of metal's all encompassing nature. As well, this is not a list of ALL the bands that have experimented and broadened metal's horizons; it's just some of the bands that have been examples for me personally!!!

Rhapsody (incorporates classical music in the feel of movie soundtracks to their foundation in power metal)

Celtic Frost (this is harder to define because the band has been so different. Their basis has been an early form of black/death metal but the amount of experimentation they have tried out has been extremely broad).

Cynic (technical death metal mixed with jazz)

Moonspell (black metal mixed with gothic/dance/industrial)

Elvenking (power metal mixed with folk music)

Suicidal Tendencies (metal mixed with punk)

Virgin Steele (metal and opera)

Nightwish (power metal with opera vocals)

White Zombie (metal and dance music)

Pain (metal and dance music)

Metal: The all encompassing genre?
By Rick

If there was such a thing, I think that metal would be it. Even after listening to metal for the last 18 years it never ceases to amaze me at the diversity of the genre. Though I must admit a preference for traditional and power metal, I also listen to music from almost every sub-genre of metal. It has something to offer for every mood I am in an for every occasion that might arise. I am not going to list off every sub genre in the world of metal because someone will inevitably say that such as such doesn’t fit into this or that category or that this or that category is really a sub genre of a sub genre of a sub genre. But when I feel the need to relax and take it easy I listen to something like Lacuna Coil or The Gathering , when I want to do some cruising I normally crank some Riot or Stratovarius, when I am pissed off its usually some death metal like Vader or Morbid Angel and when I am just in a good mood and want some good music its HammerFall or Maiden. I can hardly think of a situation where I couldn’t find something from one of the metal many sub genres that would fit the bill. Metal also has some influences from such diverse musical genres as funk, classical, jazz, tribal and of course good old rock. I have a problem with people who think and state that people who listen to metal and don't listen to other types of music are closed minded. I do listen to some other types of music, mostly classic rock, but I always come back to metal because it has the diversity that I crave but more importantly the kind of music that love. I could be listening to some simple Judas Priest tune one minute and then the next be listening to something more complicated such as Watchtower which forces me to think and use my mind. I really don't need any other types of music because I feel that metal is THE all encompassing genre.

Metal: The all encompassing genre?
By El Cid

I think it's pretty complex to talk about this because everyone has a different opinion on genres and sub-genres in metal.

I personally like to use sub-genres such as black metal, death metal, power metal and such because it makes it easier to describe a band to someone who doesn't know it if you compare it a band in the same "genre" which he does know. The problem comes when you name dimmu borgir, cradle of filth, blind guardian, opeth and such. In the case of Dimmu Borgir the question is are they black metal? Some say they are, some say they aren't so how do you classify them? And another example are bands like Opeth and Blind Guardian who are so magnificently complex that it's simply useless to try to find a category for them since they are so good that they deserve a category of their own for making their sound evolve so much that it now is too much their own to compare it to some other band.

In all I think that sub-genres are a useful tool to describe bands and their sound but in the end metal is one big family of bands. When you hear a band you can immediately say whether or not it is metal and it doesn't matter what sub-genre it belongs to, it's metal and that's reason enough to give them a try.

Metal: The all encompassing genre?
By Pete

Well, for me personally there are no boundaries within metal. Sure there are different types of metal: prog metal, speed metal, math metal, power metal, death metal...I could go on and on. I don't believe in the idea that if you happen to be a fan of say Six Feet Under there's no reason why you cant own a copy of Priest's Defenders of The Faith. For example, a mixed CD I made recently contains the following bands: Testament, Badlands, Kiss, Slayer, Saxon, Kreator, Motley Crue and many others. Metal is not limited just to one genre. If you limit metal to one genre, it's no better than someone who likes Led Zepplin but won't listen to Gamma ray 'cause they're "power metal." Call it what you want, but when it comes down to it, it's all heavy metal.

"Metal: The All-Encompassing Genre?"
by Ice Maiden

Once again, as I sit down to write my essay I have no idea what the question that has been posed means. I interpret the question in two ways, or at least as a progression of a single concept:

  • Does metal encompass all forms of expression and emotion?

  • Is metal such a wide-ranging style of music that it is unnecessary to listen to other forms of music?

For me, the answer to the first question would be "yes," but that does not necessitate a positive response to the second question.

I think metal is "all-encompassing" in the sense that it evokes many types of emotions in a listener, at least a listener who loves metal. It can be aggressive (Slayer), doomy (Morgion), dreamy (Nightwish), and down-right peppy (Stratovarious). It can make you feel like banging your head (Testament) and can lull you to sleep (My Dying Bride). In other words, given the variety of emotions and feelings that metal can evoke, it is possible to conclude that it is not necessary to listen to any other form of music. Indeed, with all of the metal out there to check out, and the limited time that some of us have to listen to music, I do find that metal predominates my listening time.

That said, I don't know how anyone can limit their music selections to metal. Sure, I love the soaring, "wave your plastic sword" feeling that I get from listening to Luca Turilli or Manowar, but I get a very similar uplifted feeling listening to an opera by Verdi-why should I limit myself? To me, music is all about enhancing your mood, and different genres of music best complement different moods. Yes, when I feel happy I know I can find some metal that will fit the bill, but maybe some '80's pop will fit the bill just as well--or even better (sacrilege, perhaps, but true). A person can think that metal rules and still love other types of music as well.

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