I’ve been watching a great program on TV that chronicles the evolution of what is known as Heavy Metal music.
It got me thinking (always a dangerous thing).
Why do I like hard rock and heavy metal music?
Well I guess it all started when I was a rebellious teenager, driven by raging hormones, with no direction and desire to lash out at people whether they deserved it or no. I wasn’t openly angry, reacting only when provoked; sadly, it was very easy to provoke me. I had a very short fuse.
At the time, my schoolmates were exploring Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, AC/DC and other similar bands. Punk rock was around but I wasn’t really exposed it that much because hard rock and heavy metal were prevalent in my school.
People used to lend me albums by Rainbow, Ian Gillan, UFO, Nazareth and Judas Priest; it was magnificent. I found an outlet for my anger. When I listened to grinding guitars, screeching vocals and pounding drums I was mesmerised and completely enthralled.
I will never forget the day when I bought my first rock album, Strangers In The Night by UFO, and put it on in my room at high volume. My dad and I had a row that day over the music and he threatened to break the LP in two if I didn’t turn down the volume.
My hair was long and bushy and I was not alone. At school, hair length was increasing despite the teachers’ attempts to force us to shorten it. One teacher called me “the boy with the chrysanthemum head” in an attempt to shame me into cutting it.
It worked – well sort of.
I reduced the length of it, but rebelled by keeping it bushy.
At school we had to wear a uniform, yet I managed to show our loyalty to the gods of rock with a scruffy beige rucksack upon which the logos of all my favourite bands was etched. I wasn’t talented enough to draw them so I asked my younger sister Jackie, who was a maestro when it came to art.
She drew the logos of Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, UFO, Nazareth, Black Sabbath and many others, even though she hated the bands herself.
Outside school I started wearing black shirts, T shirts and denim jackets. When I was seventeen I went on holiday with my family to Butlins and spent the time on my own walking around with no desire to fit into the family lifestyle. I may as well have gone on holiday on my own. Here is a rare photo from that holiday, when my dad finally demanded proof that I had actually been with them.
Of course, I mellowed slightly as I matured, yet my love of heavy metal and rock prevailed. The bands changed (I discovered progressive rock in the form of Rush, a band that is still my favourite today).
As I went to university, I began to drift away from rock slightly. My mates said that I would grow out it – and for a while they were right. While I enjoyed pop music, I still found it dull and as the 1980’s wore on, it became clear to me that music, in my opinion was too simple. I began to favour the bands of my youth, the progressive rock bands that composed rock symphonies, the powerful hard and heavy thumping sound of pure heavy metal at its very best.
I welcomed it back into my life with open arms – and I have never looked back since. And to me, my evolution into a metalhead is complete, simply because now I appreciate the music for what it is – skilful and beautiful.
I no longer needed to be the rebel I was when I was fifteen. I didn’t want to break my skull on a wall to the pounding heaviness of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”; it was more an appreciation of how beautiful and powerful the genre can be.
And since then, my taste is more refined and the style I listen to most is progressive rock and progressive metal. I love listening to Dream Theater, a band who compose rock music with such virtuosity that it literally brings tears to my eyes, and Porcupine Tree, another fabulously talented band.
Old favourites are still there; Deep Purple, Rush and Judas Priest as well as new rock bands like the Black Spiders.
I marvel at the ability of guitarists like Alex Lifeson, Tony Iommi, John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Ritchie Blackmore, Angus Young, Kirk Hammett, KK Downing and many more. The vocal range and talents of singers like Ian Gillan and Geddy Lee are incredible. The incredible majesty of drummers like Cozy Powell, Ian Paice, Mike Portnoy and Neil Peart are a joy to behold.
And I am so enthusiastic about these people and the music they compose that I find it hard to contain myself when talking to people about them.
Mrs PM and I have had numerous discussions about the glory of rock and heavy metal and she simply can’t understand why I rave about a Joe Satriani guitar solo or a Dream Theater masterpiece.
I know I’m not alone because I have friends who are enthusiastic as I am. And my eldest lad Stephen also appreciates how wonderful metal can be, though his taste is slightly more modern than mine.
I’ll leave you with a monster of a song from Judas Priest from the 1980’s which sums up why I love heavy metal so much. Incredibly I find songs like this blast away the anger and frustration I feel after an awful day at work – even now.
You won’t get Coldplay playing like this:
P.S. I am currently compiling a list of rock and metal classics to make up a blogathon, similar to the one I did in January that embraced the pop songs I love. I can sense already, dear reader, that this might not sit too well with some of you – but I hope when the time comes you will stick with it. It may even make those who think that metalheads are braindead Satanists think again. If you listen to the actual talent these guys have – you will be pleasantly surprised.