The Year of the Beast: How Iron Maiden Heralded the Metal Explosion

The story of metal is not linear. We didn’t arrive at the mayhem lurking in our Spotify playlists through a measured progression of technique, style, and genre. Rather, the evolution came in leaps and bounds, with dead ends and bursts of growth and pockets of innovation. To continue the evolutionary metaphor: the Cambrian Explosion of metal shot off in the mid 1980’s, as subgenres and geniuses and success combined into a specimen closely resembling much of modern metal. But the growth, although frantic, wasn’t instantaneous; rather, it seemed to expand exponentially from a single source, a catalyst in a chain reaction. That incipient band, the patient zero of metal as we know it today, is Iron Maiden. More precisely, the stratospheric success of The Number of the Beast, with it’s intricate compositions, transgressive lyrics, and trailblazing progressivity, diverged metal from hard rock completely and legitimized metal as a commercial viability, heralding the eruption of metal in the years to follow.

Heavy Movies: DEATHGASM (Because Lower Case is for Pussies)

For this edition of Heavy Movies, I want to talk about the magical experience that is Jason Lei Howden’s DEATHGASM (all caps because lower case is for pussies). You see, DEATHGASM isn’t just a fantastic Heavy Movie, folks; it’s also one of the greatest horror comedies ever made. Taking cues from the metal-infused Satanic hysteria horror of the ‘80s, coupled with practical FX-laden splatter fare, it has all the ingredients you need for some blood sprayin’ bad ass cinema with tunes to match. Couple that with demons and an impending apocalypse, and you have a heroic underdog story we can all get behind. Then, throw in endlessly witty dialogue and a romantic sub-plot that oscillates between genuinely sweet and hilariously mean-spirited, and what you have is a coming-of-age tale which hilariously, yet sincerely, captures the awkward perils of teenage life.

The Fleeting Nature of The Music Industry (And Some Advice)

The music industry is huge and can be intimidating. It’s complexity, breadth, and depth is unmatched by any other entertainment industry. That massive output can be quite discouraging if you really want to keep up with everything. As someone who recently transitioned from being an average listener to a serious writer of music, I totally and completely sympathize. Every week, there seems to be some new big happening with music, some new album, some new hype, and if someone tunes out, even for just a week or two, it seems like an eternity has gone by. Trends live fast and die hard in music, making it easy to feel left out. This is totally by design based on everything previously discussed. Labels are trying hard to make something stick and curators are trying to keep up with their massive output. Here’s a little advice to listeners (and journalists) who feel burnt out constantly listening to new music:

Always Riled Up: The Knowing is in the Doing – Mike Watt: An Interview

Some artists are iconic because of record sales or bigger than life personalities but a lot of the time they reach that hallowed status because of the influence they wind up having on others and their ability to stay humble in the face of praise. A lot of the time it’s because they have their own guiding philosophy that keeps them contributing long after others have come and gone. The latter can operate in the spaces between traditional measures of success much of the time. Some even deflect the praise onto those they’ve worked with instead of keeping the recognition to themselves.

Heavy Movies: The Slacker Comedy Years

One of the biggest misconceptions about rock and metal fans is that we’re all dreamer slackers with daydreams of musical superstardom. However, in the 90s, that didn’t stop Hollywood from churning out a slew of comedies which adhered to this notion. That said, the history of heavy movies is beleaguered by stereotypes anyway, so why should the 90s have been any different? The good news is that the decade did produce some hilarious efforts – a few of which went on to become cult classics – and that’s all that matters. Hollywood assumptions about subcultures aside, at least the cinema itself was entertaining.

Heavy Movies: The Evil ’80s

As metal rose to prominence in the ‘80s, so did the metal movie.  The decade saw the emergence of glam metal which remains the best sub-genre ever in this writer’s humble opinion (and I’m damn well proud of it), while hard rock was a huge phenomenon with an appetite for…