Metal Evolution-Episode 9: Shock Rock (DVD)
Released: 2012, Alliance Films
This was an interesting episode as my only experience with traditional shock rock was Alice Cooper, and then the antics that KISS introduced on stage. I hadn’t even heard of Arthur Brown and could relate to his influence of acts such as Alice Cooper and King Diamond.
I had issues with the inclusion of bands that don’t belong anywhere near the metal label, like Slipknots and Marilyn Manson.
I was also surprised at the link Dunn tried to make with Rammstein. Yes, the shows are extremely theatrical and have shock value but I don’t believe their industrial sound sits in the heavy metal evolution.
Again, a tough episode to define and possibly justify, as Shock Rock bands usually prescribe to a certain subgenre sound, with Alice Cooper and Kiss being really more rock n roll based in the early days, while Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Slip Knot are clearly Nu Metal. Image wise, these bands are definitely in a subgenre of their own, relying more on theatre than metal for image. Not sure why Venom was in this one as well, again a formative Black Metal band, which is a subgenre where all the bands could be labeled Shock Rock. In the end, the music defines the subgenre more than image (Thrash and Grunge bands looked pretty similar after all), so I question if this episode is necessary, these bands probably fitting better in other subgenres.
Shock rock was another episode I had high hopes for. It started very strong but ended up quite weak and was marred by lack of content. The lineage of shock rock was extremely well done with some fantastic archival footage of Screaming Jay Hawkins and Arthur Brown. One of disadvantages of showing a documentary episode about controversial content on mainstream American TV is that you can’t show or discuss what that shocking content actually was. Accordingly, the episode focused on the stage presentation of bands and not many of the other shocking components of the extreme genres, (such as the album covers of Cannibal Corpse, the actions of the early Black Metal scene or the lyrics of the whole porno-grind scene) because the censors would not allow those words and images on TV. So unfortunately, the whole episode seemed watered down but it not the fault of Banger Films! I would have liked to see more on influential innovators like W.A.S.P. and GWAR. One of the comments was that each generation needs their own controversial figure and being an older guy who saw it all from the beginning with Alice Cooper and such, I found the clips of Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and Rammstein quite trite and derivative. Those bands are not doing anything new or original; and those stunts have already been done previously by W.A.S.P. and Alice. (Sorry Slipknot, a clown mask and banging on a garbage can isn’t shocking, controversial or scary and FYI...George Clinton of the band Parliament had dubbed his fans ‘maggots’ as far back as 1976!) Those aforementioned newer bands aren’t really evolutionary they are just clones but again, MTV would not let you see the truly shocking, underground bands. My favourite part, was the segment on King Diamond.