Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)
The age old question: what makes something metal? It has come up for me lately a bit because my daughter has been enjoying AC/DC lately (started with hearing Highway to Hell over the closing credits of one of the Iron Man movies, now she likes some other tunes like Dirty Deeds and TNT) and she asked me “Is AC/DC heavy metal?” I told her no, they are really hard rock. However, you listen to some of their stuff and it sounds an awful lot like heavy metal. Then take Motörhead: clearly heavy metal, right? Well, Lemmy insists they are not, but are just rock and roll. How about Motley Crüe? Mostly hard rock, but their first couple of albums are full on metal.
You are looking at the newer end, and once you get into postrock type stuff I think that all bets are off. Most of these bands probably would not classify themselves as heavy metal, but some sure have the metal vibe. Battles is not heavy metal, but plenty of Don Cab is, and the DNA they share is still greater than what they do not. TesseracT: heavy metal, but some of the tunes on their new album (which I really like, btw) are more atmospheric. And the Skyharbor is probably even more vague. You could argue that as metal has become more diffuse it has become harder to define. Is the look? The logo? Distortion? Subject matter? And how much does intention matter?
As I get older I probably care less and less about these definitions. Listening to more older hard rock has made it less important to me in some way–so much of the 70s stuff straddles the line between hard rock and heavy metal. So maybe my answer to my daughter should have been: “Good question. I’m not sure, but it doesn’t really matter as long as it rocks!”