Legends Behind the Fastest Growing Music Genre
According to streaming and download figures for 2018, heavy metal is officially the world's fastest-growing music genre. The world has an increasing appetite for crunching guitars and powerful vocals, with heavy metal surpassing the likes of J-pop and R&B in terms of global growth. While that boost has partly been driven by new waves of metal bands, streaming services also allow users to dive into the discography of those who pioneered this style of music.
Here is a nod to the legacies of three heavy metal legends, whose influence is felt in almost every band that continues to carry the flag for metal.
Along with Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, Black Sabbath were one of the founding fathers of heavy metal. Black Sabbath was particularly notable for sharing the workload between its members. Guitarist Tony Iommi was the band's lead songwriter, while bassist Geezer Butler acted as the primary lyricist. However, it is difficult to get away from the cult of the frontman, who was of course the inimitable Ozzy Osbourne.
Osbourne's influence can be summarized in two of his popular nicknames, the 'Prince of Darkness' and the 'Godfather of Heavy Metal'. After leaving Black Sabbath in 1979, Osbourne carved out a prodigious solo career. His unique character made him the ideal reality TV star in the 21st century, giving Osbourne the platform from which to inspire new generations of metal fans. Even at the age of 70, Osbourne is still going strong today.
The music world united in mourning when the legendary Lemmy passed away in December 2015, but the legacy of this rocker will live on forever. Lemmy had all the qualities of a bona fide rock star. His distinctive singing voice and appearance made Lemmy instantly recognizable, both sonically and visually. Most importantly, Lemmy's music was literally genre-defining, given how Motörhead's blend of heavy metal with punkier tendencies helped to inspire the birth of thrash metal.
Lemmy was unafraid to choose lyrical topics that resonated with his personal life. Motörhead's most well-known song is Ace of Spades, with Lemmy keen to fill the track with gambling references. Lemmy's passion for classic games went beyond cards and we like to think he would appreciate certain online games that take direct influence from Motörhead's music genre. The Heavy Metal slot by Microgaming even adopts some punk themes on its reels, a clear homage to how Motörhead brought metal and punk together.
Eddie Van Halen
Van Halen is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, if not the absolute best. His revolutionary use of tapping has influenced guitarists of all genres, while Van Halen's inability to read music with complete confidence is an inspiration for aspiring players. The band Van Halen mixed hard rock and metal to great commercial and critical success, releasing a string of number one albums and memorable singles.
Van Halen took musical cues from bluesier guitarists like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, but his playing style brought all of their best qualities into the heavy metal genre in a way that had never been heard before. Just as Van Halen may point to Hendrix as a primary influence, countless rock guitarists across the world point to this musician as their hero.
If heavy metal continues to grow such a rate, it will be interesting to see which modern musicians will become established as legends. One thing is certain: the influence of the likes of Osbourne, Lemmy and Van Halen will never be forgotten.