Characteristics of Heavy Metal

The main element in heavy metal music is the driving power that the guitar, bass and drums produce through an amplifier. The “heavy” part is the distortion of the bass and lead guitar. Riffs, solos, sweep-picking and other fast playing tricks all make up what is known as heavy metal.

Today's young people o­nly know Ozzy Osbourne as the mumbling, stumbling, clueless father featured o­n a reality show. They will never know that three decades ago he was the undisputed “God of Heavy Metal.” His band, Black Sabbath was o­ne of the first groups of the heavy metal genre. Other British metal pioneers in the late 60s were Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.

Heavy metal in the United States in the early 70s developed as well, but with a more dramatic, darker flair. Kiss and Alice Cooper drove crowds into an impassioned frenzy with their driving beat, pyrotechnics and cool makeup.

At the same time, the West Coast was getting into the act with David Lee Roth, lead singer of Van Halen. This band launched a generation of heavy metal imitators in the 70s, mainly called heavy metal "glam" rock. In Australia, other heavy metal bands like AC/DC were exploding into fame at the same time. A new genre of British metal at the same time was causing new waves. Heavy Metal bands Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, among others increased the tempo and made “heavy” even “harder.”

Grunge metal held the limelight for a time, but died off with the re-immersion of creative heavy metal bands such as Metallica, Poison, and Def Leppard in the 90s. They are still making music and selling out concert halls. Heavy metal is not nearly as successful as it was a decade ago, but it is o­n the rise again. Their fans are fiercely loyal, still buying CDs and continue going to concerts.