Why Is Metal So Angry?
Looking into the history of anger influencing metal, you’ve gotta go back to the protest songs of early folk and blues, whether Woodie Guthrie was fighting for working men’s rights or Billie Holiday was protesting lynching with songs such as “Strange Fruit.” Of course, it’s impossible to gauge exactly how angry these songs sounded 100 years ago. “1913 Massacre” could have sounded like Converge to the pre-rock 'n' roll world.
The unrelenting anger that we associate with metal today comes directly from a few places — the American and British punk scenes, the rip-roaring speed of Judas Priest and Motorhead, the vicious lyrics of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?,” the early aggression of Iron Maiden and the macabre showmanship of Alice Cooper, KISS and Mercyful Fate. Put it all together and you get Venom, arguably the first truly “extreme” band in metal’s lineage. And Venom really appealed to angry kids who loved heavy metal.
Enter Metallica, who led the furious thrash movement. But where did James Hetfield's anger come from? ”I think the anger comes from family of origin, a feeling of not being heard, a feeling of manipulation, probably still a teenager in here somewhere that's still sorting out some past issues — you know, parents, upbringing, things like that," Hetfield said in an interview.
If parents who hated heavy metal thought it couldn’t get anymore angry and hateful than thrash, their reactions to discovering black metal must have been hilarious, but somehow, metal's rage got even more fine-tuned thanks to Pantera.
“There’s a lot of things that make [Philip Anselmo] angry,” Vinnie Paul explained to the Georgia Straight, “but he’s not necessarily writing anger in a negative fashion. He’s angry and he’s expressing a viewpoint, but it’s also an anger that turns positive, you know what I’m sayin’?”
And as for the purified anger of Sepultura, Max Cavalera explains, "We were really focused on issues that mean something to us. Because of the fact that we grew up in a Third World country, we see how things are from the outside point of view. So I think we decided to criticize a lot of stuff that is wrong in the world today." The same goes for other metal bands from surprising countries, like Iran’s Confess, Iraq’s Acrassicauda, Saudi Arabia’s al-Namrood and Before Crush from the amazing documentary Death Metal Angola.
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Why Is Metal So Angry?
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