This blog is going to be about the difference in sound between Hair (a.k.a. Glam) Metal and Thrash Metal. The three categories of Metal we have on our playlists this month are Hair, Pop and Thrash Metal. First of all, I needed to understand the difference between the three subgenres, so I did a little research.
Hair Metal: Also known as “Glam” Metal was the name given to the slick, pretty, pop-oriented heavy metal and hard-rock bands of the late ’80s. They wore flashy clothing, heavy makeup, and large, teased hair. They also used pop sounding hooks and melodies.
Pop Metal: This sound was heavily concentrated in the Los Angeles based band scene. Pop-metal bands emphasized the guitar riff and huge, catchy hooks similar to the fist-pumping choruses of the arena rock genre.
Thrash Metal: Thrash, also called Speed metal, became the most popular form of heavy metal in the American underground music scene. It combined British Heavy Metal with hardcore punk. It was played extremely fast, abrasive, and it was technically demanding, because, although the bands played fast, their attack was precise and clean. Because of its intensity and technical demands, speed metal quickly evolved into thrash, which allowed greater leeway in terms of tempo, groove, and instrumentality.
After getting an understanding of what I was supposed to be listening to, I preceded to listen to the playlists. I instantly liked the song by Bon Jovi, “Living on a Prayer”. It reached out and grabbed me. I liked the lead singer’s voice and his vocal. It had a constant driving beat and the bass guitar was thumping, but I noticed that the lead guitar was used as more of an accompanying instrument throughout most of the song, until the build ups to the choruses, some echoing of the lead singer and the break down towards the end of the song. It only became a dominant instrument as the song began to end. I also noticed that the song had a very catchy pop-like hook. I think that’s why I instantly liked it. It was easy to catch onto and a very memorable tune.
To contrast the Bon Jovi performance, I wanted to find a song that embodied the Thrash/Speed sound. I found this with Metallica. I have been familiar with the name Metallica, but not so much their music. The song I chose is called, “Hit the Lights”. It immediately starts out with a great build up between the guitar and drums. Then the guitar is left suspended for six counts and it starts all over again. After a dramatic drum roll, the guitars start the song. Once one of the band members yells “Whoa!” the extremely fast tempo starts and it’s off to the races. I would definitely call it guitar driven music, but I must say it was very clean. The musicianship was excellent. I listened over and over again to the breakdowns and they were perfect. The guitar licks and notes were played cleanly with no accidental slides. Although there were no pop hooks or anything remotely pop like in the song, there were very distinctive bridges and chorus breakdowns by the music that I ended up “looking forward” to hearing. As a musician, I appreciate good musicianship, so I can see how someone could get addicted to listening to this type of music. I also can see why the “purists” didn’t and don’t like the Hair/Glam metal. It’s missing that raw music component that metal seems to thrive on.
Hair Metal definition. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/style/hair-metal-ma0000011902
Pop Metal definition. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/style/pop-metal-ma0000002785
Thrash (Speed) Metal definition. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/style/speed-thrash-metal-ma0000002874
Erlewine, S. Bon Jovi Biography. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/bon-jovi-mn0000069534/biography
EBSCOhost: Gliatto, T., & Stoynoff, N. (2002). Local Boy Makes Good. People, 58(22), 114.
Erlewine, S. Metallica Biography. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/metallica-mn0000446509/biography
EBSCOhost: Fricke, D. (1995). Married to metal. Rolling Stone, (708), 72.