THE TOP TEN BANDS MOST OFTEN MISCATEGORIZED AS HAIR METAL: #5, EXTREME
Since its inception by the typings of some clever music journalist in the 80s, the categorization “hair metal” (or “glam metal”) has been as amorphous and, consequently, as misused as “metalcore” has been in the aughties. And since it’s hair metal week here on MetalSucks, we thought we’d try to address this issue by pointing the spotlight on ten bands that are often, and incorrectly, deemed “hair metal.” And to that end…
If Van Halen set the standard for the flashy guitar techniques and outrageous frontman theatrics that would later come to define hair metal, then it’s only fair to call Extreme their proverbial nephews and similarly disrobe them of the “hair metal” tag. At their peak more than a full decade after EVH and DLR changed the face of heavy music forever, the Boston duo of Gary Cherone on vocals and wunkerkind Nuno Bettencourt on guitar channeled the vintage feel-good VH vibes into three killer albums that still stand up today. Nuno’s unabashed EVH worship was on display at all times both in his supersonic leads and intricately voiced, highly rhythmic rhythms — I suppose one could argue that he stylistically one-upped EVH and took everything he’d done to the next level, but I don’t think I’m gonna go there — and Cherone, though not as outrageous as David Lee Roth, certainly summoned his whacky / feel good on-stage personality, and not for nothin’ was definitely a better vocalist. And of course there’s that little thing where Cherone sang for Van Halen for a minute… but we don’t talk about that.
But of what of drummer Paul Geary and bassist Pat Badger, the oft unheralded rhythm section of Extreme? While Cherone and Bettencourt got the spotlight, I’d argue that Geary and Badger are what made Extreme into Extreme, their absolutely unstoppable, pulsating, gyrating, thumping, rock-solid grooves among the best of any metal band ever, providing the foundation on top of which Cherone and Nuno were able to do their thing. That groove is another part of what mandates Extreme be discussed separately from many of their fellow poofy-haired contemporaries; it’s all about the funk. Plenty of bands experimented with mixing funk into their metal soup during the late ’80s and early ’90s, but none executed it as perfectly as Extreme. Plenty of bands grooved, and plenty of bands played hard — and lots of bands tried to do both — but Extreme defined what it meant to groove hard. And Geary and Badger were the engine that made this band go while Cherone and Bettencourt — essentially a duo-frontman tandem, ala EVH and DLR — impressed the masses with their pomp and flash.
Extreme may have looked the hair metal part (and hey, they eventually had the good sense -cough!- to upgrade from spandex to Baja hoodies like everyone else) but they were really an entirely different beast. Like fellow early ’90s long-haired rockers Saigon Kick (#8 on our list!), Extreme suffered the fate of being known best for their pansy power ballad “More Than Words,” but that shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow the sheer amount of kick-ass that the band’s fans know these Bostonians churned out. Pornograffiti and III Sides to Every Story still groove so fucking hard to this day that I can’t stand it. I dare you to pop on “Get The Funk Out” and resist at least a little head-bob or hip-shakin’ action… it can’t be done, I tell you!
THE LIST SO FAR: