“Hardcore” Heavy Metal and Punk Rock: The Power of a Guitar Solo

When listening to Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” for the first time I found that I did enjoy the song.  I never listened to heavy metal, I often grouped heavy metal with other rock sub-genres like screamo and punk rock that I also refused to listen to.   I’ve heard serious rock fans boast about their favorite genre of music, some calling  the music deep and hardcore. I decided to give rock a chance.  While listening to “Paranoid”for the second time, I looked up the lyrics and found that they did not seem to fit the melody and the rugged sound of the guitar.  If I was to have read the lyrics to the song prior to hearing it, the lyrics would lead me to believe that they’re from an R n’ B or even pop song.  Particularly that part where Ozzy sings,

“Make a joke and I will sigh and You will laugh and I will cry.”

So I began to think, if it isn’t the lyrics that make heavy metal so “hardcore” what is it exactly? I decided to listen to a few other heavy metal songs including The Runaways’ “ Cherry Bomb”  and of course, Led  Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”

The lyrics in “Cherry Bomb” are probably the least hardcore, saying things like:

“Hello world, I’m your wild girl, I’m your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb.”

Of course Led  Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” starts off with lullaby like lyrics before the drums are introduced into the song with lyrics like:

“In a tree by the Brook, there’s a songbird who sings, Sometimes our thoughts are misgiven”

None of the lyrics of any of the listed three songs seem deep or hardcore at all.  But what these three songs have that make them intriguing and actually something worth listening to is a killer guitar solo.  As most people know, one of the main components of rock music, particularly punk rock and heavy metal, is a sick guitar solo.  These solos can be as short as a two minutes or they can last until the rest of the song, similar to “Stairway to Heaven.”

While I initially disagreed with the hardcore aspect of punk rock and heavy metal, I now understand the use of the term.  Let’s be honest, no one listens to heavy metal or punk rock looking for complex lyricism; a powerful amplifier and creative guitar solo gives listeners something to focus on and before they know it, they’re singing along, saying the same pointless lyrics  with fierce dedication, almost as if they’re quoting the Magna Carta.

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