Br00tal-lists

BOB COCK MULLS OVER METAL’S ROOTS, SOUNDS LIKE AN OLD MAN

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Nowadays, classic metal seems all the rage — some cool kid told me this while walking to the market — and with MetalSucks doing the whole “Ten Great Bands That Inadvertently Helped Ruin Heavy Metal” thing, I got to thinking: how did metal become metal? We all know the Sabbath/Priest/Zeppelin “who started heavy metal” debate, but what about the in-betweeners that were probably “heavy metal” to my dad’s mom when Pops was just growing that ridiculous mustache and finding out that drinking beer was pretty cool once you got past that taste?

(Okay, full disclosure: I was drinking a beer and cranking UFO while reading the Van Halen story, so there.)

We’ve all known 3 Inches Of Blood for more than a few years at this point, but with the rise of bands like White Wizzard, Holy Grail, the criminally underrated Wolf, Gypsyhawk, RAM, and Cauldron waving the flag for the classic metal sound, I got to thinking about the bands that inspired them. These are groups where you could look back at them and say that they aren’t even definable as “metal” anymore.

  1. Van Halen – This is a no brainer. Sammy O’Hagar put it perfectly: “It was pop music with heavy guitars….They didn’t write grouchy bedroom anthems; they wrote HITS.” I’ll just point you to Sammy’s story; he nailed it.
  2. UFO – The “Doctor, Doctor” intro was good enough to inspire Iron Maiden to cover it. Sure, it was during the Blaze Bailey days that everyone wishes didn’t happen, but Michael Schenker has undoubtedly inspired a myriad of metal musicians over the years. Let’s face it: UFO was a rock and roll band. And a damn good one.
  3. Jethro Tull – Yes, they did win a metal Grammy in 1989, but are they metal? Were they then? No, of course not. Did they bring the heavy in the late 60s and early 70s? Hell yeah. Stand Up, Aqualung, Thick As A Brick – they were all heavy. Sure, they have slower tunes, the trademark flute, and acoustic interludes, but when they rocked, they rocked.
  4. Motörhead – Fine, fine… we can call them metal. But how is this not just punk with better riffs, more gravel in the throat, and huge warts? Lemmy made Rickenbackers metal, too.
  5. Molly Hatchet – How is it not metal to have this many guitar solos on No Guts… No Glory? Molly Hatchet wins the face-off against Lynyrd Skynyrd for “King of Southern Rock that Probably Inspired a Plethora of Shredders” on sheer solo power alone.
  6. AC/DC – Dude, apparently “Highway To Hell” and “Back In Black” – even “Dirty Deeds” – are on classic rock stations now. My parents know the words. I bet my grandma knows at least some of “You Shook Me All Night Long.” What modern day metalhead can honestly say that the first time they saw Angus Young rip a solo in a video, on a VHS, at a concert, or whatever, that it didn’t make them think, “I want to play guitar?”
  7. KISS – They might have been a metal band at one point, but please refer to Section 6 of this article (the one you just read on AC/DC).
  8. Blue Öyster Cult – Buck Dharma. That is all. And yes, they have written other songs than “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”

This is a total off the cuff list, and mostly stuff I’ve been jamming on for the past two or three months while I rediscovered my love for the almighty guitar riff, so glaring omissions are inevitable. And, of course, we can collectively throw Hendrix into the mix, but I’m still working on my Jimi degree, so I’ll leave that for the ‘Suckers to discuss.

Am I the only twenty-something that listens to Molly Hatchet unabashedly? What else did I miss? Chime in, and turn it up!

-BC

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