The Hard and Fast Rule for Telling the Difference Between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal

Courtesy of Say Uncle, we learn that some yahoo at Yahoo thinks Aerosmith is a heavy metal band.

My friends, yes, sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between metal and hard rock, especially if you’re not very familiar with either genre.

But I bring you the guideline that will help you make the call, and I guarantee that this guideline will serve you well 95% of the time.

Say one of the more conservative Christian churches in your town decides to throw a record burning or a CD smashing…

You know, I wonder, what do folks do now?  An MP3 erasing just can’t be that exciting or dramatic.  There’s no fire, no sledgehammers.  Hmm.

Well, anyway.

Say a Preacher is throwing a record burning or CD smashing.  If, when he holds up an album by that group, you and your friends would have laughed and laughed and laughed that anyone could have thought that music was Satanic, it’s probably hard rock.  If you would have shrugged and said “Well, yeah, maybe I can see that.  Okay, but it’s still stupid to destroy the record.” you probably have some heavy metal.

Go ahead.

Try it out.

You’ll see it’s true.

No, no need to heap praise upon me for my genius.  Being right is all the thanks I need.

Edited to Add: Oh, holy Sweet Jesus!  I just looked at Yahoo dude’s list more closely and he seems to think… No, let me quote him.

20) Thin Lizzy: You’ll see that I’m partial to bands who can write songs. Play as many notes as you like. Scream your lungs out. Tell me the world isn’t fair. Hail Satan, if you must. Tell me more about how you’re going to “rock me.” Or tell me all about the people in a faraway galaxy who will one day communicate through the electric guitar. But I’ll still take someone who can write: “Jailbreak,” “Cold Sweat,” “Whiskey In The Jar” and “The Boys Are Back In Town.” [emphasis mine]

Isn’t this the same Whiskey in the Jar that Metallica covered?  The same Whiskey in the Jar-o that every Irish band in America can play by heart?  How is that not a firing offense–being a music critic who doesn’t know that Thin Lizzy didn’t write that song?  And who claims to be partial to bands who can write songs?

22 thoughts on “The Hard and Fast Rule for Telling the Difference Between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal

  1. This is OT, being neither hard rock, heavy metal, nor (I think) Satanic, but what about this? It’s Joe Cocker, close captioned. And the question isn’t whether his records ought to be smashed, but whether he was.

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  3. yeah, major doofus. How can you leave off Sepultura, Megadeth, Anthrax or any of the other real metal bands i can rattle off without thinking of it.

    GNR? Bitch, please.

  4. The title of my post was almost “If You Don’t Have Sepultura on your list, you don’t have a list.” Because, yeah, any list without Sepultura, Megadeth, and Anthrax is not a list with any authority.

    Also, I want Zakk Wylde on the list, not because he’s a better musician than other folks, but because I once read an interview with him in which he talked about how much he loved starting out the day with the smell of his wife’s cunt still in his beard and I have always had a soft spot in my heart for any man that makes eating out his wife sound bad ass.

  5. Few of those bands are particularly heavy. Mostly AOR “old folk” standards.
    I’m more of a straight edge punk listener, though, when I’m in the mood for something hard. Rock and heavy metal sounds lumbering and vague by comparison.

  6. One of the million funny gags in Arrested Development is when George Michael’s Christian girlfriend asks him to host a music burning party. His cousin maeby invites all the cool kids and they stand around ripping CDs to mp3s and burning mixed CDs. George Michael is all “no! It’s a music burning party not a music burn–oh. Nevermind. “

  7. Jethro Tull won the only Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal.

    That tells you all you need to know about both the Grammys and Heavy Metal.

  8. Don’t misunderstand, I LOVE THIN LIZZY. I do. Particularly the song “Rocker.” But “Jailbreak is one of the dumbest songs ever written.” Consider the first lyric—“Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak somewhere in this town.” Somewhere in this town? At the jail perhaps?

    It makes me crack up every single time I hear it.

  9. I’m nearly certain that the ‘preacher-fire’ for burning heavy metal would pretty much require a some kind of big ol’ smelter or massive furnance.

    The know-it-alls at WikiPedia defines Heavy Metal as:
    “A heavy metal is a member of an ill-defined subset of elements that exhibit metallic properties, which would mainly include the transition metals, some metalloids, lanthanides, and actinides. Many different definitions have been proposed—some based on density, some on atomic number or atomic weight, and some on chemical properties or toxicity.[1] The term heavy metal has been called “meaningless and misleading” in an IUPAC technical report due to the contradictory definitions and its lack of a “coherent scientific basis”.[1] There is an alternative term toxic metal, for which no consensus of exact definition exists either. As discussed below, depending on context, heavy metal can include elements lighter than carbon and can exclude some of the heaviest metals. One source defines “heavy metal” as “… common transition metals, such as copper, lead, and zinc. These metals are a cause of environmental pollution (heavy-metal pollution) from a number of sources, including lead in petrol, industrial effluents, and leaching of metal ions from the soil into lakes and rivers by acid rain.”[2]

    I’m pretty sure I don’t own and or listen to such recordings. :)

  10. Joe P don’t get sassy with me, young man. Pesky Fly, ha, I know. That cracks me up, too. But who knows? Maybe it’s a town with a lot of jails.

  11. Jethro Tull won the only Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal.

    That tells you all you need to know about both the Grammys and Heavy Metal.

    There best be no knockin’ of Jethro Tull. I’ll tell you that right now.

    Of course the thought of them as “Heavy Metal” cracks me up. Yeah. I can see Ronnie James Dio covering Cross-Eyed Mary.

    (I put Ronnie James Dio in the Heavy Metal category because of the whole record-burning thing…if there’s any record that meets that category it’s The Last In Line)

  12. Coble, please.

    Any band whose lead instrument is a flute barely qualifies as “rock”, much less “heavy metal”.

    Put that in your aqualung and smoke it.

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  14. You know, I’m always surprised by how much I enjoy old Tull when I happen upon it. It’s always like, “What is this nifty stuff?” followed by gagging and hacking as I realize I’ve just tasted shit. But to be fair, the Tull shares Heavy Metal’s obsession with geekoid fantasy. So, on some conceptual sword and sorcery level Tull is one with Heavy Metal. Me and my insufferable friends call all of this Tolkien Rock. That makes it inclusive of early Pink Floyd as well. (You know, when they were singing about little gnomes staying in their homes).

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