Heavy Metal vs Punk
Heavy Metal vs Punk
Punk rock first began as a spontaneous rebellion against everything that was happening in the music world and industry in the 1970’s.
Starting in 1972 and proceeding all the way to 1987 and beyond, the global commercial music industry essentially ran out of imagination. It’s as if every single album was just a rehash of the album before it.
To make matters worse, studio heads and the upper echelons of recording studio management companies would run all sorts of statistical analysis or focus groups or otherwise gather direct consumer information.
Now, normally this is not a bad thing. For example, if you’re going to be rolling out underarm deodorants, it’s always a good idea to listen to the people who you’re trying to actually sell to. These are the people who are actually going to raise their arms and use your product.
You need to listen to these people, otherwise, you might be giving the wrong product to the wrong people and you produce the wrong results. The wrong result, of course, should be obvious. You’re not making any money.
Now, as awesome as this technique may be when it comes to any kind of other products, when it comes to music, things get a little bit dicey. It’s trickier than it seems. You can run survey after survey, conduct focus group after focus group, but at the end of the day, whatever compilation you come up with would still suck.
And that’s precisely what happened in the ’70s. A lot of these industrial or commercial or corporate rock really bored the hell out of people. Now, there were alternatives. Disco was the main alternative, and people were turned off by disco because a lot of the same dynamics that killed off rock music in the minds of too many people were happening with disco.
This is where punk came in. Punk was just a rebellion to all of that. It was a big middle finger to all that’s going on and it really considered the recording industry as just fueled by greed and narrow self interest, and it would not have anything to do with any of that.
Well, it turns out that a lot of the rebellious attitude of the initial punk bands were synthetic and manufactured. That’s just a polite way of saying that it was all fake. It turns out that groups like The Clash were actually quite well versed.
They make a big deal of the fact they can’t play their instruments, but it turns out that they can play their instruments. They make loud noises about the fact that they’re supposed to be working class heroes. Well, it turns out that no less than Joe Strummer was the son of a diplomat. Not exactly a working class hero, right?
This is why a lot of people in the metal scene can only laugh at punk because punk made a big deal out of the fact that it was more organic, authentic, and represented the real voice of the forgotten masses of the American white underclass.
In reality, it was heavy metal that captured all that angst, but heavy metal had the foresight to make money and made no bones about it. It did not apologize for any of its commercial interests. Instead, it’s as realistic and as down to earth as old school capitalism and motherhood and apple pie.
Make no mistake about it, there are musical differences between heavy metal and punk. There definitely are structural and compositional differences, but I would like to submit that the big difference between heavy metal and hardcore punk and many of its permutations and sub-genres really boils down to one thing. It really all boils down to authenticity.
Heavy metal did not make any big claims that it was some sort of revolutionary underground swelling of the forgotten proletariat out to overthrow the bourgeoisie. They didn’t have to do any of that. Instead, people just had a good time. They were there to get drunk, smoke pot, have sex, and have a good time.
Punk, on the other hand, put on all sorts of ideological caps. It tried to be something that it was not, failed to deliver, and pointed a finger on everyone except for itself. That’s the big difference. It’s all about attitude and authenticity. It can’t get any more real than that.