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FutureStarrCountry Goes Metal
Country has long included rock elements and imagery, but a growing convergence between country music's soft side and rock's harder edge is creating an increasingly unified genre. From Brantley Gilbert's live revision to HARDY's forthcoming Country Goes Metal project, this movement should be closely observed.
As the music industry matures and becomes more diverse, it's essential to honor and embrace what makes rock music unique. With that in mind, here are nine acts to watch as they revolutionize their genres with a new 'country metal' sound.
Pantera began as four heavy metal cowboys from Texas: guitarist Diamond "Dimebag" Darrell, bassist Rex Brown, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott and singer Phil Anselmo. Soon they gained international notoriety for their unique blend of thrash metal and groove metal called power groove; featuring complex guitar riffs, hard-edged vocals and energetic drumming from Darrell, Paul and Rex.
Anselmo was an incredible lyricist and made a significant impact on the band's sound, as evidenced by his thoughtful reflections on life and death in 'Becoming' and the powerful opening riff of 'Domination.'
Though Pantera would ultimately break up over disagreements regarding musical direction, Anselmo remained an important player in their early success. His memorable lines kept the music moving along while adding poignancy to their groove-centric heavy metal attacks.
No doubt, Black Sabbath had a major impact on heavy metal music. Their sound blends blues-based rock with the dark, menacing tones of metal.
Their dark sound set them apart, with lyrics that conveyed a feeling of dread and despair - something rare in hair metal at that time. Thus, they helped shape what hair metal would become known for, setting a standard that other bands would follow.
Particularly their early material, 'Black Sabbath' (1970), featured numerous snarling guitar riffs and what would later be labeled as "doom metal."
Country Metal music can be traced back to several songs, but one of the most influential was Black Sabbath's "Warning," which continues to be covered today by many musicians. This classic track boasts an infectious guitar riff and beautiful lyrical refrain that still resonates today.
Sweden has long been known for its metal scene, boasting early doom, death and black-metal bands as well as modern day heavy music pioneers like Meshuggah who continue to push the envelope of heavy music.
Sweden has had a major influence on progressive metal, particularly djent. This genre features polyrhythmic grooves and unique time signatures.
These rhythms are intricately layered into complex patterns that may be difficult to follow even for experienced listeners. The hypnotizing effect is similar to Steve Reich's compositional style, in which long phrases play out in cycles that seem strange or arrhythmic at first.
Meshuggah's early work is often disregarded, yet their 1997 debut Chaosphere remains one of the most influential progressive metal bands in history. This early snapshot offered a glimpse into djent at its most fluid.
Established in 1997, The Dillinger Escape Plan is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of math-metal music. Based in Morris Plains, New Jersey, they blended new-school hardcore with progressive metal and free jazz to create their unique sound.
Odd time signatures, polyrhythms and unconventional drum patterns became hallmarks of their sound. By 1999, their debut album Calculating Infinity cemented them as masters of an evolving genre that would continue to flourish throughout the 21st century.
They've become renowned for their energetic live shows that feature intense violence. In 2016, they released their sixth and final full-length Dissociation, following which they announced an indefinite hiatus from touring.
Guitarist Ben Weinman is an artist whose daring shifts of meter and dynamics have become hallmarks of DEP's music. With this release, he gives the world one last opportunity to experience his garden of soundscapes. While it bears the weight of its own conclusion, it also stands as one of the finest Dillinger Escape Plan records yet.
Ozzy Osbourne helped define heavy rock in the Eighties and established himself as one of guitar rock's greats. He made a name for himself during his 10 years with Black Sabbath, then ventured off as a solo artist and released several critically acclaimed albums.
Osbourne is a true legend in metal music, having created with Black Sabbath an atmosphere of menace and fear not often found today. Over his career he's taken the helm of several bands such as Van Halen, and while not without its critics, Osbourne remains one of rock music's most influential figures.
Ozzy recently released his thirteenth album, Patient Number 9, to rave reviews and nominations. His song "Degradation Rules," featuring Toni Iommi from Black Sabbath, has been nominated for both Best Rock Album and Metal Performance at the Grammys.
The death metal movement began in and around sleepy Tampa, Florida; many of today's biggest bands came from there: Death (originally from Orlando), Obituary, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Atheist and Cynic were formed here.
These bands all utilized elements of thrash metal, such as fast riffs, aggressive palm muting and brutal vocals. Furthermore, they often utilized dark lyrics about murder, serial killers, disease and satanic rites.
Many of these bands have achieved worldwide fame, including Death, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Possessed, Nile, Morbid Angel Autopsy Atheist and Obituary.
Motorhead was a groundbreaking band that helped metal reach mass appeal. They pioneered punk rock with metal, drawing inspiration from American music with Lemmy Kilmister's bass-heavy sound matching the force of their drums.
They employed some of the earliest guitar effects, such as wah-wah pedals and overdriven guitars. Their sound was unique, often topping charts around the world.
Lemmy's iconic anthem, "Ace of Spades," brings together the guitar riffs from his bandmates with the gravelly voice of its vocalist to create one of music's most beloved tunes.
The band was led by an inspiring front man who never wavered from their mission to create loud, fast and vicious rock music. He created a sound that is widely considered one of the most influential heavy metal genres ever since and continues to inspire fans today. Their most recent album Live in Berlin showcases their maximum energy and should not be missed by any fan.
In the 1950s and 1960s, rural music such as blues, country and folk had an enormous impact on rock's development. It also had a profound effect on musicians such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Pete Seeger who wrote songs in response to civil rights issues.
Creedence Clearwater Revival also took inspiration from rural music to create their own distinctive sound, drawing upon soul icons like Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye for inspiration.
Townsend's career as a metal musician began with his formation of Strapping Young Lad, an intense band which toured extensively and released many albums. Additionally, he has released multiple solo albums that combine metal with elements of hard rock, ambient and progressive music.
Meshuggah were one of the biggest metal bands worldwide during the 2000s. Their distinct musical style, complex polymetered song structures and polyrhythms earned them a devoted following that inspired many other metal acts like djent, sludge or death metal bands. This year they released their eighth studio album The Violent Sleep of Reason via Nuclear Blast Records; named one of Rolling Stone's top ten albums of the decade it must-have for any rock collection.