16 March 2012

Precious Rocks & Rare Heavy Metals: Chapter 1

The first of a series of fun articles aiming to explore the impact that Rock and Heavy Metal artists/bands had on the world and the impact the world had on them. This series will cover a number of artists so all favourites will be presented.

Please note: There is no specific reason (e.g. greatness, preference etc) for the order bands are presented!


The only band refusing to put their songs to be sold separately on iTunes and yet they have the lowest rates of music piracy. Coincidence? Don’t think so; traditional values is what defined AC/DC in the first place. But not only do they attract millions of fans, the Rock N’ Roll giants have a strange effect on the great white shark as well. According to a tour operator that organises cruises in Australia, after many attempts, he managed to find the secret in attracting the sharks close to the ship. These remarkable mammals are specifically fond of songs like “You shook me all night long” and “If you want blood”. Experts attribute this phenomenon to the sensitivity of the specific species to low sound frequencies, a characteristic of most of AC/DC’s music!

It’s not that this conclusion derived from rigorous research, yet no one can deny AC/DC’s awesomeness, even the animal kingdom. I wonder how the great white would react to Lady Gaga but all I know is that I wouldn’t want to be there when it happens...
Full shark story here.


Probably the band responsible for not so much as incorporating but establishing the intelligence factor in Heavy Metal. It’s frontman, Dr. Bruce Dickinson a.k.a. “The Air Raid Siren”, is the definition of a renaissance person. His talents range from piloting, fencing, writing, broadcasting, script-writing, acting, marketing, and some more which I am sure he doesn’t care sharing. He has a history degree from Queen Mary, University of London (for those that don’t know already, one of the best in the UK and worldwide) and has recently been awarded an honorary doctorate of music from the same University. The University’s announcement can be found here.

In an ingorant society like ours where people consider Heavy Metal as the caveman’s music, bands like Iron Maiden step in to show us otherwise. It is a fact that lyrics as much as music in Heavy Metal do require a bit of homework if bands are to be taken seriously by fans. In addition, the once-thought uncultured genre, is now followed by more intelligent fans than any other. Although some good research still needs to be done on this subject here is an interesting outline of a study from Warwick University which found that gifted students prefer Heavy Metal.


Widely famous, not just for being the godfathers of Heavy Metal but for other oddities as well. We all know about their obsession with the occult and have heard a thing or two of Ozzy’s mischief. But the most distinctive characteristic that defined what Black Sabbath came to be during the past decades is Iommi’s re-invention of the “Devil’s chord” or the tritone. The tritone was also evident in Wagner’s compositions and represented evil (i.e. devil, sex, and lust), for which it was banned during the Middle Ages. When asked how he came up with it, Tony said that it simply felt right.

Imagine how differently Heavy Metal would have evolved if Iommi hadn’t “discovered” the specific musical interval. For those of you that do know a bit more about music here is a piece on how to play like Tony. I’d like to see you try!


Admittedly, the most remarkable thing about Aerosmith is Steven Tyler’s wide vocal range and technique. Steven featured in National Geographic’s documentary “The Incredible Human Machine”, where you can literally see his vocal chords vibrating at up to 170 times per second during his famous scream falsetto on “Dream On” whilst performing live! Some say he’s falling into the category of a low tenor. You can catch the clip from the documentary here.

There are very few vocalists that have amazing vocal abilities and it’s no surprise that many come from the Rock and Heavy Metal genre. I came across this interesting blog post where a voice teacher with no prior knowledge of them, analyses the vocals of 5 great Heavy Metal singers, amongst them, the great Rob Halford. Although the title is a bit patronising for its purpose, it is still worth a read. Read it here.   

Watch this space for the next chapter of this series.
Chapter 2 can now be found here.
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