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MCobra00

Hard Rock and Heavy Metal: 1 Genre or No

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Everyone knows that Hard Rock and Heavy Metal was born roughly around the same time. There are people in the world that associates them as synonyms of the same genre, while others try to get more "technical" between the two. I know many people will have many opinions on this subject matter, so I thought what the heck?

Just to lay down the facts, I remember watching Metal  Evolution by Sam Dunn and his interviews with Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath and Jon Lord of Deep Purple, who we associate with heavy metal. However, during the interviews, both Butler and Lord called their bands hard rock. Geezer himself dismissed the Heavy Metal label. Even Led Zeppelin, whom people has credited aiding the developement of heavy metal, prefers hard rock and dismisses the metal label.

On the other hand, many hard rock bands such as AC/DC, KISS, Van Halen, Guns'n'Roses, and Alice Cooper have been associated one way or another with the heavy metal genre. Although AC/DC, KISS, and Van Halen have considered themselves Rock'N'Roll, their style alone is characteristic of heavy metal (e.g. AC/DC's Thunderstruck, and KISS's God of Thunder).

Many of the popular heavy metal bands (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Avanged Sevenfold, Rage Against the Machine, Dream Theater) draws inspiration both hard rock and heavy metal.

Musically, both genres utilize many of the same techniques. Many people have even said that the line between them is blurred, which makes it easy for bands to cross between both genres-hence why some people tend to use them synonymously.

So what's your opinion on the subject? Are they generally the same, or entirely different (technicalities)?

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For me they are slightly different. Hard Rock still has discernable elements of pop rock or rock'n'roll, while maybe boasting a stronger or grittier attitude. Heavy metal will tend to have a less danceable quality to it, focusing more on the dramatic charge of the music. That's just my interpretation of it. I imagine fans of hard rock would find heavy metal to be a little too much. 

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The line between heavy metal and hard rock can be fuzzy (as can be the line between a collection of similar genres), quite often a band can have some metal songs and some rock songs. Generally, heavy metal is faster and less blues oriented than hard rock while also containing more power chords (perfect fifth diads) and less open chords.

There are typically tonal differences but tone doesn't define genre.

 

On 11/10/2018 at 9:03 AM, MCobra00 said:

Just to lay down the facts, I remember watching Metal  Evolution by Sam Dunn and his interviews with Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath and Jon Lord of Deep Purple, who we associate with heavy metal. However, during the interviews, both Butler and Lord called their bands hard rock. Geezer himself dismissed the Heavy Metal label. Even Led Zeppelin, whom people has credited aiding the developement of heavy metal, prefers hard rock and dismisses the metal label.

Artists can't always be trusted to label their own stuff. As an example, JD from Korn has called Korn a funk band.

 

On 11/10/2018 at 9:03 AM, MCobra00 said:

On the other hand, many hard rock bands such as AC/DC, KISS, Van Halen, Guns'n'Roses, and Alice Cooper have been associated one way or another with the heavy metal genre. Although AC/DC, KISS, and Van Halen have considered themselves Rock'N'Roll, their style alone is characteristic of heavy metal (e.g. AC/DC's Thunderstruck, and KISS's God of Thunder).

I don't really see God of Thunder as a metal song but I get the idea (to me, Love Gun would be a better example). Although these hard rock and glam metal bands may have occasional metal moments or songs they're not really metal bands as they're all typically slower, less swung and bluesier than heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest.

 

On 11/10/2018 at 9:03 AM, MCobra00 said:

Many of the popular heavy metal bands (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Avanged Sevenfold, Rage Against the Machine, Dream Theater) draws inspiration both hard rock and heavy metal.

One genre drawing inspiration from another genre does not make the two interchangeable. Rock n' roll was developed from blues but they are not the same genre. Certain tech death bands take inspiration from jazz but they are not the same genre.

Also, sorry to nitpick but the big 4 are thrash bands, Rage Against the Machine is a nu-metal band and Dream Theater is a Progressive Metal band. All of this is discernible as different from both hard rock and heavy metal.

 

On 11/10/2018 at 9:03 AM, MCobra00 said:

Musically, both genres utilize many of the same techniques.

The same basic techniques as used in blues and jazz. Compositionally however, they are still quite different.

 

On 11/10/2018 at 9:03 AM, MCobra00 said:

Many people have even said that the line between them is blurred, which makes it easy for bands to cross between both genres-hence why some people tend to use them synonymously.

The line can be blurred but they are still two different things.

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I agree that they are different things. I have never heard anything from Kiss that sounds like metal. Van Halen, Guns 'n' Roses, etc. are not metal. I think the one that's the hardest to classify is AC/DC, right exactly on the line between metal and hard rock. Led Zep is a great band, but I never considered them metal, though they definitely influenced it. 

However, I do take exception to the remark that metal has less blues in it. I think blues had a huge influence on metal, that they are closely related. The galloping rhythms of European folk music certainly contributed to the development of metal, but Black Sabbath started as a blues band, and I think the blues contributed greatly to metal. If your not familiar with the blues, check out Robert Johnson, Skip James, Son House, Charlie Patton, and Blind lemon Jefferson. Those musicians are at the roots of rock, and I think they contributed a lot to metal.

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I would definitely say they are 2 different genres, and I agree with Parker that AC/DC is right on the line between the two, in my opinion Deep Purple are on that line too, and Led Zeppelin are just Hard Rock but they no doubt had a huge influence on Metal.

Black Sabbath in my eyes are without a doubt Metal, not all artists will agree though, for example Lemmy said that Motörhead just played Rock 'n' Roll.

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I tend to think in terms of Venn diagrams. That is to say "circles of meaning". If we suggest that there is a large circle that is "hard rock" ... then we might go on to suggest that there are also smaller circles, such as heavy metal, glam, punk, stoner rock, etc. that go within this larger circle. They may even overlap here and there. 

Shit got really interesting when I ran into a most peculiar argument though: Much of modern metal shouldn't even be called rock, according to an old friend of mine. It's more like jazz, or funk, or some kind of experimental shit that exists outside of all proper genres. Which is precisely what they used to say about "prog rock" back in the 70s: It wasn't proper rock music. There was too much weirdness.

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Definitely two genres, but there are bands that approach the borderline, as has been explained here already. 

As for Geezer Butler claiming that Sabbath aren't metal and that they're hard rock, he's right in that many tracks - for instance on the 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' album - don't really have any metal in them, but there is surely enough metal material within their oeuvre to legitimise them as a metal band. 

Metal is definitely a broad church, but it's definitely a step away from Guns n Roses and bands like that who play hard rock. 

Hair metal is the main problem in my eyes. I tend to accept that hair metal is a genre of very peripheral metal, but it's mostly hard rock of course. For instance, as much as I love hair metal, I don't include any hair metal releases in my top metal lists etc. 

Also, I never understood why Lemmy was so afraid of the metal tag. I guess they play rock n roll, but they're also as metal as it gets. 

So yeah, there is a difference, but as we're talking about noises it can be sometimes difficult to tell. 

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13 hours ago, Requiem said:

I never understood why Lemmy was so afraid of the metal tag.

I can tell you why, but I'm unsure whether you'll believe me. Fear was never the issue. The word would be something closer to disgust. He thought of the metal scene as a bunch of fucking idiots. He would read magazines in search of "this week's most ridiculous band name" and laugh at their pathetic attempts at looking "evil and scary" ... when in fact they are just a bunch of ignorant kids. 

Metal as a separate genre wasn't created by the fan base, it's a mind trick that the record industry came up with to boost sales. Anybody who can remember a time before metal knows what happened ... because they watched it go down. It was like the Spanish Inquisition suddenly came to town and started sorting the good from the bad, the worthy from the unworthy ... and now we have a situation where people almost kill eachother over whether this or that is "true metal". 

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Another note on this issue: For some time now, I've been trying to understand why people are so hard assed about this "genre" thing. Because it wasn't like that at all back in the day. Nobody could care less whether it was rock or punk or glam or metal or whatever. Having the right kind of "groove" was what it was all about. Also, I suppose the attitude went a long way. Being in opposition, like.

The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is the practical impossibility of having a "broad genre" approach these days. I asked about this in another thread. Thing is, mathematically speaking, a year has only 8,760 hours, and I think the total metal production in our world of today goes WAY beyond that ... so it's physically impossible to cover everything, no matter your good will and intention. The next step will probably be to get married to some more specialized subgenre then. Such as focusing exclusively on death, thrash, prog, stoner, trad, whatever ... and also mayhaps being a little defencive about this, in a "my way is the right way" kind of way. I don't know. The age of the old school "rock star" thing may be over. It's about genres now.

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On 1/14/2019 at 5:00 AM, -Natassja- said:

 Just listen to what you like. Fuck pigeonholing everything.

I think most people wind up in that position, eventually. Even those who choose to invest considerable amounts of lifetime towards the cause of keeping order in the haunted house. The thing with subgenres is that it may be helpful if you're looking for "new stuff". Something that's similar to the stuff that you already like. But it goes a little too far, in my opinion, when it becomes doctrine and "truth". 

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I think the genre Nazi thing is a bit of a myth these days.

20 years ago there was a lot of talk about 'false black metal' and all of that, but today I don't think there are many people pushing the genre barrow. People tend to realise that in the current musical climate, with so many genres out there, that flexibility is the best policy.

In fact, in recent memory it was only BlutAusNerd who used to post here who was very concerned with getting genres right, to the point that I was quite surprised by his vehemence. 

In my mind it's clear there are genres, but rather than being clearly defined blocks of bands there is a lot of bleed over in almost every direction. This is pretty obvious. I do like genre classifications though as they tend to lead me to bands that I'll enjoy. Imagine if everything was just 'metal' and had to be literally described on a case by case basis. It's best to start with genre then work out from there. 

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20 hours ago, MaxFaust said:

I think most people wind up in that position, eventually. Even those who choose to invest considerable amounts of lifetime towards the cause of keeping order in the haunted house. The thing with subgenres is that it may be helpful if you're looking for "new stuff". Something that's similar to the stuff that you already like. But it goes a little too far, in my opinion, when it becomes doctrine and "truth". 

I suppose I just find it somewhat tiresome and vaguely amusing how some take it soo seriously to be honest but each to their own.

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9 hours ago, -Natassja- said:

each to their own

What's really funny about this all is -- as was covered in another thread just the other day -- that a consevative estimate of how many "metal" releases there were in 2018 is in the area of 16-18,000 ... so there's just no way anybody is going to know everything about everything, let alone listen to it all. 

Add, too, that there is no real agreement over what "metal" means. The internal debate among metalheads, over the issue, must seem like madness to an outsider. A typical civilian might perhaps associate all "noisy" music that has screeching guitars and pounding rhythm as "metal" ... whereas for instance if they listened to something like that recent Bell Witch album, they might think that some kind of weird, experimental jazz. 

On 1/16/2019 at 10:33 AM, Requiem said:

BlutAusNerd (...) was very concerned

He and I had words over the issue ... specifically the Mercyful Fate problem. I just don't see it. Seriously. How can MF be considered black metal by any stretch of the imagination? I mean, I was there. I remember what happened. Everybody loved "Melissa". Both people who were "venomous" (who were into darker, harder, dirtier stuff) and people who were "bitches" (commercial metal, har and MTV, the whole shebang). That was what it was like at the time. 

I suspect that the genre classification confusion here -- the Mercyful Fate problem -- has a lot to do with that whole "Satan" thing that was going on in America at the time. Melissa was kind of shocking like that, I imagine, to people who for any reason have to defer to that sort of nonsense. After all, MF was a Danish band. We Scandis don't take the religious stuff seriously, really. It's s theatre thing. Psychodrama. And King Diamond ain't nothing if not theatrical. Hence all the cheepnis shclock schock effects. For fun. For the hell of it.

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