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Heavy to Light

Posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 12:01AM by Registered CommenterAllyson B. Crawford | Comments27 Comments

Why do bands seem to start heavy and get lighter as their careers go on? Think about it: Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Metallica and now bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet for My Valentine all started heavy and progressed to more melodic music.

What gives?

High n' Dry and Shout at the Devil are decidedly Metal, while Songs from the Sparkle Lounge and Theatre of Pain are certainly not.    

Of course, the easy answer is that the bands wanted to, you know, sell albums. I mean, how dare they?!

While popularity and the desire to eat and have a home are one thing, many bands have stayed tried and true to Metal, especially Motorhead and Iron Maiden. Now, it's none of my business to talk about a person's financial status, but since members of both Motorhead and Iron Maiden are celebrities, they are exempt. I am going to go out on a limb and say both bands are doing pretty well for themselves.

Metallica are working on their new album right now. Drummer Lars Ulrich keeps saying it's "classic Metallica." Does that mean we're about to have another Kill 'Em All on our hands? Somehow, I'm having trouble buying what Lars is selling.  

Let's face it: Metallica made the so-called Black album and it's been downhill ever since Metal-wise. Sales wise, the band has pretty much been on fire. Well, except for the pesky Load releases...

Were bands like Metallica, Motley Crue and Def Leppard mere products at the mercy of a new 80s medium known as MTV? I know Motorhead and Iron Maiden made videos too, but nowhere near as many as the Glam bands I talk about on here daily. MTV was (is) a genre for the beautiful. Let's face it: Nikki Sixx is considered more than attractive by quite a lot of women. I'm sure his looks and attitude didn't hurt Motley's sales any. It's no different than Beyonce or other pop stars because sex sells. Often when you throw sex into the picture, the product - in this case Metal - becomes somewhat diluted.

So, did bands like Metallica, Motley Crue, Def Leppard and all the rest evolve to become more commercially popular or was it just a sign of the times? Remember, the same is exactly true for modern Metal acts like Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet for My Valentine. With each album, both bands get a little more melodic. That's no issue for me - I seriously love every album by both bands, but I realize I'm in the majority when it comes to screamo Metal. Yes, the Glam mistress does enjoy the heavy stuff from time to time.


Just for fun, let's compare:

Here's Avenged Sevenfold's "Darkness Surrounding" from Sounding the Seventh Trumpet



Now, "Gunslinger" from the recent self-titled release.



Do you hear the differences? Spill it, my music maniacs.

Reader Comments (27)

Lemmy is on the record as saying he's far from rich, but Maiden are clearly rolling in it.

I expect the new Metallica to be sucktastic, but we'll see.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
the gentrification of metal.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdon
Seems to me ever since Steve Clark passed away..Def Leppard's rock edge died with him..I don;t get it either..Vivian Campbell played with Dio and Whitesnake..I saw Vivian just shred then..So their is no reason they can't rock again...I love how some critics say "oh, they're just older now"..I disagree..Ronnie James is 64 and still kicks major ass..Priest, Maiden, and Klaus Meine is going to be 60..Whitesnake still rock too. I agree 100% with you Allyson..Maiden and Motorhead never sold out.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Vivian is a clown - the amount he abuses Dio is just pathetic, Dio is a god, and Dio made him who he is, he gave him his break.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Oh, I know this is subjective, but I thought the first Bullet CD sucked, and I have no interest in checking out the first two A7X CDs. The latter half of both band's output, is awesome IMO. I guess some people hated the early Motley ( which I love ) and love the later stuff ( which I like a lot less ).
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
How about bands that start light(er) and get heavy? I can think of a few (Sweet, Thin Lizzy, Tigertailz, Hardcore Superstar, Y&T...). Personally, I like artists who record albums which aren't directly comparable with each other. Motorhead and Iron Maiden albums, whilst some are obviously better than others, all stick (or not) in my mind as much of a muchness.

'Shout' is probably my favourite Motley album, but if they'd stuck religiously to that sound I don't think it would appeal to me nearly as much. As it is, I can listen to all their albums in one sitting (with the exception of Theater of Pain, which is just bad) without at any point approaching boredom.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPat
Well i desagree big tim eabout Motley Crue

Dr.Feelgood was not lighter than shout and neither was girls girls girls. but theatre of pain is he high point of drugs and they didn't know what they were doing. but they are always metal.

Bullet For My Valentine u say. their new cd is far heavier to me then the poison. listen to waking the demon, scream aim fire, eye of the storm, etc. all heavy songs. Def Leppard have never been that heavy high and dry was just classic rock. Def Leppard albums like hysteria and Songs from the Sparkle Lounge are the DEF LEPPARD SOUND.

And a lot of bands go lighter to heavier like
Hardcore Superstar
Skid Row
Warrant (Songs like uncle tom's caabin)
and many more

Sorry but i got to disagree with u.

p.s. even though theatre of pain is the crue's least amazing album from their esstial 5 albums. (81,89)

May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMotleyCrue666
I just wanted to add that even though i said theatre of pain is the least amazing it still rulez. and i think it might be tied with girls girls girls.

listen to City Boy Blues, Home Sweet Home, Louder Than Hell, and Keep Your eye On The Money of theatre of Pain.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMotleyCrue666
AND SMOKIN' IN THE BOYS ROOM!
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMotleyCrue666
Girls girls girls was just lost at sea, and Dr Feelgood was WAY more commercial than Shout, and not as heavy. No way.

Smokin in the boys room is a cover. The only other good song on that CD is Home sweet home, sorry. Even the band think so.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
I would call it more "commercial" than lighter but its all the same. Many times a band's first couple of albums are heavy and, after some success, the label people try and get them to change for radio. The band is to blame for listening and going down that road. My band KISS did it with disco and Gene Simmons described it as getting a taste of success and changing to get more of a taste, and changing again for even more. I can't fault anyone for wanting success.

Maiden & AC/DC.....these are bands that didn't compromise their sound and still had major success. Look at Maiden today, they are selling out arenas by themselves while other bands need two or three support acts. AC/DC is in the studio and will sell out arenas when they tour. Motorhead is successful due to longevity and fanbase but I've read many interviews where Lemmy says he's not a multi millionaire.

Steve
Heavy Metal Addiction
http://hardrockheavymetal.wordpress.com/
Has Christian ever said a good thing about any band on here? If so, can someone show me where?..Because I never saw it LOL...I've met Vivian years back and he was super cool..Also..Ronnie even admitted he treated Vivian awful back then..He didn't even let Vivian do his solos HAHA!!!...Ronnie admitted in many interviews that he himself became very egotistical when he formed his own band because of what he went through with Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Also Christian...where does a persons's personality have to do with their playing? HAHA..I just mentioned Blackmore above..awful personality..but great guitarist =)
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
I HAVE TO DISAGREE WITH SOME OF YOU GUYS. ALOT OF THESE BANDS JUST MATURED MUSICALLY, METALLICA ARE SOME GREAT MUSCIANS AND SONGWRITERS, AND BLACK WAS A TRIBUTE TO THAT. GRANTED MASTER OF PUPPETS IS ONE OF MY FAV RECORDS IT WOULD GET BORING TO HERE THAT SAME SOUND OVER AND OVER.THEYVE HAD THERE UPS AND DOWNS YES LOAD SUCKED RELOAD NOT TO BAD AND ST ANGER WELL.. I THINK VERY FEW METAL BANDS CAN KEEP THAT SOUND GOING WITHOUT GETTING A LITTLE TO COMMERCIAL AND STILL MAKE IT SOUND GOOD. JUDAS PRIEST MAIDEN DIO. BUT GREAT MUSIC IS GREAT MUSIC AS LONG AS YOU DONT HERE A BAND LIKE MOTLEY DO A NSYNC COVER WERE COOL. AND BTW I LOVE DEF LEPP BUT DONT GET ME GOING ON THERE NEW RECORD WORST ONE THEY EVER MADE
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGUNS N F'N ROSES
Hardcore Superstar went from Light to Heavy!!!
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHCSS ROXXX!
Hey Joe. Did you not read BBG yesterday ? Where I raved about Airbourne and Black Tide ?

No matter how you look at it, Vivian attacks Whitesnake and Dio, all the time. Dio has only ever said nice things about Vivian, and if it's true or not, for him to mouth off like that, is unprofessional and rude. Having said that, Def Lep with him is still a great band, they were awesome live.

I am sure Vivian is cool to fans and to people he likes, I was talking about him dissing Dio all the time.

Actually, I've been reading a book on Rainbow, most people who were in Rainbow are pretty forgiving of Ritchies personality. Which is just being professional, like I said.

And, I didn't say Vivian was a bad player. Holy Diver is one of my all time favourite CDs. He didn't record for Whitesnake, but his Def Lep stuff is also good. I was talking specifically about how he presents himself and how he treats Dio. I've NEVER seen Dio admit he treated him badly. He played all his own solos. I've also read an album by album analysis of Dio, the band, and didn't see anyting on that.

Guns - I like the Loads. I really do. but, they are not metal, and Metallica went alternative at a time when the world needed a big metal album, from a big metal band. St Anger just sucked, IMO. I am hoping it was the therapy and that the new CD kicks ass again.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
This is a bit of a tangent, but some of the anecdotes about Richie Blackmore's peculiarities are hilarious..
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPat
metallica did not just mature. suddenly they changed their sound to draw in a larger audience, cut their hair, and started wearing designer clothes. they got a taste and listened to their label and promo people who told them to soften everything and be more accessible. now, they can do as they please but that was a huge sellout. a band changing gradually as the years go by is normal. suddent and massive changes are attempts to cash in. it doesn't always work but sometimes (like metallica) it does. i don't expect them to sound the same at 50 as when they were 20, nor would i want them to but...............now they suck bigtime. just my opinion.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdon
I do see where you are coming from but i really don't think melody is all that bad, even for metal. I mean bands like Motley Crue and others....thats the whole reason they joined a band was to fuck chicks wasn't it? i mean thats something they repeat alot even in their books. I don't think wanting to make money doing something you love is a bad thing. I am personally not a metalica fan and i think they are just whinny rockstars. I do think there is a difference between selling out and being successful.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChey
I hate when they listen to the label too much though. All they care about is making money and wouldn't know a bass from a guitar.
May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChey

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