The Polishing of Metal Part 1
By Derek McDonald
This document was compiled for use by novices to the Heavy
Metal genre, experts who want a review and record collectors. I make no claim
as to its accuracy. You use this information at your own risk. I do, however,
try to minimize errors. This document is always being updated so your input is
valuable. If you have suggestions or corrections please send them to me. My
address is at the end. This text is © Copyright 1996 by Derek McDonald
(me). It may be distributed for NON-PROFIT purposes freely until otherwise
noted by myself. This text must be distributed complete and unedited and must
contain this legal notice.
If an army were to march to its beat they would move 3.0-4.5
miles an hour, slow for earth travel but fast for music, the fastest there is.
Its attitude is bad, its clothes are flashy, its face is young. Anybody can do
it with a bit of practice but very few will ever make something of themselves
with it. It has defined a generation. It has survived fads and fashions,
nay-sayers, censors and bans. It crosses cultures with ease and thrives best in
conservative societies and works to liberate the people. It is a religion on
its own and assimilates all which comes by its path. Depending on your point of
view it is either the highest form of music man can and will ever create or the
worst. No matter what it is, it is a way of life for many people and enriches
those lives in ways which the English language can not even begin to describe.
This monster of Rock music is called Metal
In the pages that follow I will take you on a brief walk
through its history, hopefully you will enjoy it and perhaps take your own
stroll down memory lane as I have, but most of all I hope you will learn
something about this wonderful music. I am a converted metallurgist, there was
a time when I didn't care one way or the other about Metal. But now I strive
for its survival and fight with the "Metal Militia." It has fulfilled my life
and has given me a sense of belonging and pride. A feeling that, indeed, there
is a place for me in this world of change. A place that changes and yet, always
stays the same. A safe spot to call home. I wish to share that spot with
Over the past few years I have kept note of my observations
and finally wrote them all down to tell the world. This document is nowhere
near complete but is enough to publish and tell the world about it. I have not
covered every major event or band in the world, nor did I try. Just enough to
educate. Well, this is one educational text you won't mind reading. (NO there
is no exam after.)
Part 1 - Serious Business
Heavy Metal. Metal
Harder than standard Rock
and a better conductor of electricity too! The mere mentioning of those two
words HEAVY and METAL together cause some people to release emotions equivalent
to the French kissing of a light socket. Surprise, horror and disgust are the
words that best describe the feeling. But to a growing elite it has become the
music that defined a generation. No other form of music can adapt to changing
environments and generations better than rock. Like the Woodstock/Baby Boomer
generation before, rock now adapted to the world of today. It became harder,
bigger and louder. It became Metal.
Like no other form of music, rock, in particular Metal-Rock,
expresses the state of society through lyrics and music that expresses the
emotions, changes and needs of the youthful listeners. It defines the new rules
to a new generation. It provides fashion, language and a lifestyle all its
Metal is an anomaly in the world of music. With rarely
offering #1 chart topper singles and, in many areas, very little radio air
time, it still manages to sell more than enough to convince the suit and tie
record executives to keep pumping it out. In fact, so much of it is pumped out
that it has become a multi-billion dollar industry within the music industry.
There are even entire record companies dedicated to the publication of nothing
but Heavy Metal music. Many record stores dedicate anywhere from 10 - 70% of
their trading floor to it. Many clothing, music and memorabilia stores can
thank it for their survival and success. Heavy Metal is unique in the world of
product sales and salesmen need not apply.
This "oddity" could be a result of its appeal to a
generation of youth with more spending cash than any before?
Yes, why does it sell in the first place?
Surely these youths can find something else to waste their money on?
The freedom of the 60's spilled into the 70's, 80's and
90's. The 1980's and 90's, especially, were a very hectic time to a generation
who were dismissed by the older establishment as having lost their way, rebels
without a cause, lazy, stupid and any other words that they could stick onto
the "X'ers," as they became known as.
These statements were only partially true. Although this
generation of youth were often spoiled that can hardly be blamed totally on
them. What about the parents who spoiled them? What about the society that
blames them of such blasphemous crimes?
Heavy Metal gave youths something to call their own, indeed,
something to celebrate in a world which had fallen victim to the spoils of
drugs, crime, pollution, political correctness, upheaval, crumbling empires,
longer days with less pay, greed, war, terrorism and debt. A world where a
college or university degree no longer guaranteed you a job. A world where to
be a young adult or teen was to be looked down upon by the elders of
While it is true that there was also fast technological
change, tremendous breakthroughs in medical science and moves toward a gentler
humanity these were of small comfort to those still not elder enough to enjoy
For all the dismissal that has been hurled its way, Heavy
Metal is the only constant standard-bearer that rock & roll can claim.
Whereas rockabilly, psychedelia, disco and even punk each peaked within a
handful of years, Metal has proved consistently popular for more than twenty
It has served as a voice - a reliable and essential right of
passage for its audience - that is, it is music that expresses the
frustrations, desires and values of a youth population that has too often found
itself without any other cultural advocate or voice. It allows its fans to
express their pride and bravado and allow the youthful to feel like they belong
and make them feel powerful. It is often used as a safe way for people to
express their anger to an increasingly cold hearted society.
Although catering mostly to Anglo-Saxon white males aged
14-30, by the 1990's this market was slowly changing to allow those of color,
females and older people as both fans and performers. It became common place to
see everyone from bikers to businessmen browsing through the Metal section at
the local record store.
Through its active history, Metal has demanded and received
complete devotion from its fans. To many it is a kind of religious experience.
From the ritual of the Rock Concert to the dress: usually consisting of denim,
black leather, silver studs, long hair and black T-shirts (depicting the logos
of the wearer's favorite band), to the language and ideals, it appeals to a
generally youth oriented market. Party, success, strength, live life for today,
generally homophobic, energetic, anti-establishment, youth power, sometimes
sexist and not politically correct is its bottom-line charter.
Over the years it evolved from being just a music of
rebellion and non-conformity to also being a working man's music. From pick up
trucks, homes, motorcycles, farms, factories and streets Metal descended like a
snow storm on the Canadian prairie. But unlike the snow, it never melted
It has become a culture on its own with its own codes of
moral conduct and traditions allowing the youth to have a place where they feel
in control and wanted.