Thursday, November 19, 2020

The origin of the name Heavy Metal by Javier Barba Vallejo.

 A few days ago walking through my neighborhood of Gracia in Barcelona, ​​I got into "Vinyl Vintage" a second-hand vinyl store and there I found a double compilation vinyl from 1975 called Heavy Metal that caught my attention by the bands that used it. They made up Reo Speed ​​Wagon, Blue Oyster Cuĺt, Aerosmith, Edgar Winter Group, Stepeenwolf, Johnny Winter, Iggy Pop ...

In the inside folder, the then young music journalist Diego Alfredo Manrique, today a veteran journalist / critic / writer who has been awarded several times, writes a note in which he talks about the origin of the expression "Heavy Metal", a bit about each group involved in the album and the reason for that selection of groups, since at that time they could have put others that will represent the genre more like UFO Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Uriah Heep, etc ... but it justifies it as a tribute to the emerging trajectory of those bands at the time, in addition to sticking only to those that at that time were on the CBS label of who is this compilation .
I was interested in knowing the origin, the first mention of the expression that we both use as a definition of the musical style "Heavy Metal" and investigated a little and I saw that the first mention dates back to 1964, in a character called "The Uranian Willie Heavy Metal Kid "from the science fiction novel Nova Express by William Seward Burroughs (1914 - 1997) writer, essayist and social critic, a true" Enfant Terrible "in the puritan American society of the time, bisexual, junkie, lover of weapons with which he accidentally killed his wife, etc ...
He was included within the so-called Beat Generation of artists and intellectuals who shaped the new American culture after the Second World War, but he always rejected that label, he was much more satyr and bastard and perhaps because of that condition of rebellious and critical art With society years later, many rock stars such as Bowie, Page, Smith, Kobain, Stipe to name a few, made friends with him, basing their musical works on his characters and novels.

The term "Heavy Metal" remained lethargic in the character of that novel for a few years until he was rescued by the prestigious New York music journalist Lester C. Bangs (1948 - 1982) from Creems, Musician and Rolling Stone magazines, who used the term to designate British bands of beat-up rhythms and riffs and maddening long guitar riffs, violent drums and brutal bass.
So it was a journalistic designation for the style of British bands, no matter how bad it tastes to the eminence of Shock Rockamericano Alice Cooper, who claims for himself the honor of the Heavy Metal crown and that despite having groups like Yarbirds, Jimi Hexdrix Experience, Jeff Beck Band, Cream, etc ... it was Black Sabbath's debut with the album Black Sabbath on 2/13/1970 who established the clear foundations of the genre, with a hard, heavy, very consistent record and with the diabolical tritone everywhere to the despair of the medieval monk Guido de Arezzo (992 - 1050) inventor of the tablatures of the solfeggio and inquisitive censor of the tritone in the Middle Ages, lest the vibrations produced by these notes release oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine and other pleasant and liberating substances in the brains of the oppressed people of the town and deviate from faith in religion modest and sinful Christian, just for the simple fact of being born under their dominion.
A clear, more modern reference to this whole subject of origin about the Heavy genre can be found in anthropologist Sam Dunn's interview with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi in his award-winning and magnificent documentary film on Heavy Metal "Metal A Headbanger's Journey (2005 ), which I recommend seeing.

Then new waves of bands and new styles of Metal would come all over the planet that we all already know and live their history.


                                                    Review by Javier Barba Vallejo

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