As you probably already know, musical genres do not operate in a vacuum. Rock and roll embodies this fact. For there to be rock and roll, there has to be rockabilly. Rockabilly required country music and blues, in particular, rhythm and blues. And when all of these came together, new musical genres came out. They solidified and blew up in many directions.
Again, it’s not much different from watching star get born and die. Stardust is all over the place. Due to gravity, it tends to collect, and as more gravity piles on, it becomes more compact and fusion starts to happen. Hydrogen turns into Helium and this releases a tremendous amount of light and heat. The gravity also gets stronger and stronger. So when the core of the sun basically becomes a heavy enough metal, there’s not enough fusion left.
It starts getting crushed by the gravity until it explodes and fragments into new forms. Then, it actually creates different elements. Here’s a little bit of a side note: Did you know that all the gold on planet earth was created through the solar process that I just described? Did you know that all the metals in the earth got deposited in the Earth because of supernova.? Crazy stuff, right?
That’s precisely the kind of analogy you should look at when looking at how different musical genres evolve because metal came out of something. It came out of the rock. It was first heavy metal, but when punk became big in the mid 70’s, especially in the early 80’s, it had a real impact on metal.
At some point in time, they were basically the same. There was no heavy emphasis on melodies. There was a strong sense of urgency and very palpable rebellion against everything that is settled, everything that is respectable and everything that your parents love.
However, it all began to change in the early 80’s when hardcore punk really upended what punk music should be. You have to remember that regardless of what the press release of The Clash said, they were actually polished musicians. Even the Sex Pistols, despite the heavy emphasis on Amateurish and completely unschooled instrument playing, they were actually quite good. Two of the guys were good. Sid Vicious was completely and totally incompetent, while Johnny Rotten was just a loud mouth, but the two guys that held down that band were actually very good musicians.
So hardcore was really shall we say a fundamentalist movement where it said, “The more competent you are, the more of a poser you are.” The number one criteria that would separate punk from anything else is raw, emotional authenticity.
This was the dividing point. From this point on, metal took the opposite direction, which is musical virtuosity. You have to be really good at the guitars. You have to really know how to play the instruments. You need to master your skills because all the heavy feel of metal required that level of proficiency. You really need to go through those chords the right way to produce such effects. You just can’t keep recycling Black Sabbath riffs or elements of Led Zepellin. That’s not going to work.
Punk took the other direction. It became more stripped down, more raw, and more basic. It’s no surprise that a lot of people just learned how to play two chords and start to form a band. And guess what? They developed fans. So it was not the musicianship. In many cases, it’s your ability to create a local scene around your band.
Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? Well, I’m not really in the position to judge. All I’m saying is that when this happened, that was the historical impetus for dark metal, death metal, Satanic metal, whatever you want to name it, to develop. Then, punk, hardcore and all sorts of deviations from the hardcore “fundamental form”, if you want to call it that, took place on the other end.
So the answer to the question posed by the title of this article is that Yes, punk did change metal permanently. It was also the other way around. Metal changed punk permanently.