American Heartbeat

An actual quote directed at me: ''Sammy Hagar and Twisted Sister are not metal and do not deserve to be on a list with Testament and Sodom.'' Let us consider this for a second. I had listed a selection of songs on a bulletin board including these four bands as part of a metal compilation I had made. Then this person replied, questioning the validity of these two acts. The songs I had listed for these two? Hagar's 'Heavy Metal' and Twisted Sisters 'Under The Blade.' Welcome to the modern metal fan.

This individual has a lot to learn. He was in such a rush to point his flawed view out that he did not see the title of Hagar's song. This is both a sad and antagonizing situation. Has he no basic knowledge of metal that he could possibly say this? Does he realize that these are two classic moments in metal history? Two moments which represent metal through both music and lyrics? Lyrics about crazed serial killers and the metal lifestyle circa 1980? Appalling.

What this poor fellow demonstrates is the twisted mindset of today's metal fan. Having grown up on a bloated diet of dire black and death metal, he has been led to believe that this -- and only this -- is true metal. How this occurred is something I missed. And I resent it. He and many others are firm believers that if a song does not contain blast beats and guttural vocals, it must be 'hard rock.'

I know I touched on this in my last column but there is more to it. When I first started listening to heavier music, I began with the basics, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the classics. Then I moved on to Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden. Then thrash, death metal and everything else in between. But these amateurs have started with the extreme stuff and believe it finishes there also. No focus. And their stubborn refusal to accept. bands like Twisted Sister as metal means they have never heard it.

Any song with galloping riffs, high pitched vocals and fierce drumming is metal. And that is what Twisted Sister were.

I wonder if he knows that in the early 80s Twisted and Manowar engaged in a war to see who was most metal. And that Twisted won when Manowar failed to show up for a confrontation. It was a great moment in metal history -- one we will never see the likes of again, but he does not know this. Poor kid. What does he think was metal in 1980?

Twenty years ago, metal was pure. Consider the albums put out that year -- Priest's 'British Steel,' Krokus' 'Metal Rendezvous,' Accept's 'Breaker,' Iron Maiden's self titled debut, Saxon's 'Wheels Of Steel,' Black Sabbath's 'Heaven And Hell,' AC/DC's 'Back In Black,' Def Leppard's 'On Through The Night' plus hundreds of English and North American metal, AOR, and hard rock classics. How does this fool explain this list of giants? This is metal the way it should be. Consider metal's popularity also. All these albums were smashes, especially in England. Could you imagine a Saxon album hitting number five today? Of course not.

But to this person, popularity means a band is not true. To him, an underground band commands more respect. Success indicates a sellout. By this reasoning all these bands and their music are meaningless. They are the commercial face of metal, what the critics find acceptable. Meanwhile the 'true' bands are laboring away in clubs, barely making it. Yet I watched U.D.O. in front of a crowd of ten people. And he is a legend. But no, the underground is where it's at, because they have not made it yet. The reason they have not made it is because metal is over as we knew it.

They do not have the appeal of the legends and, in most cases, the music is inferior. If they had a choice, the underground bands would more than accept the success of their peers. But for Nile and their likes, that may never happen. And do not forget how the '1980' class have suffered abuse from ill-informed critics all their careers. At every turn Krokus have been ridiculed and humiliated, for both music and image. For the last 20 years they have said Maiden won't last against the fads of the day. They are still here. The fads are not. Saxon, 22 years and still going strong. Add Def Leppard to that list. AC/DC, 27 years. What can you add to that?

The facts? These are the greatest metal bands of all time. Add the likes of Deep Purple, Raven, Uriah Heep, MotorHead, Kiss, Van Halen and Rose Tattoo to that as well. They are popular because they made great music. They had band members who were cool and looked the part. They were tough and dirty. The music reflected that. You could believe in them.

There is no band out there now from the 90s who I could say that of. Storace. Byford. DiAnno. Coverdale. Angry Anderson. Lemmy. Bon Scott. Denim and leather. Real heroes. Real men. Hard as nails. Boogie. A once proud scene that had proper unity. Fans who looked the part. Trying to tell me this is not metal boy?Where were you then? You did not even exist. And as far as I am concerned, you never will.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online January 3, 2001

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