RETURN OF HEADBANGER’S BALL
Forum for the New, Not Nu, Metal Masters
By Tammy Moore
Stand up and listen all ye who would silence the “sound
of the beast.” A musical movement dawned in the late
1960s upon the impulsive creation of a song called “Black
Sabbath.” It was a song based on only three tones, two
of them D notes.
essence of the song was dark and eerily gloomy, but the protagonists
of that day could hardly resist the strange power of this
mournful sound. It came on the heels of a path that had been
forged by bands like the Yardbirds, Ten Years After and Cream.
Those artists took jamming on standards written by American
blues artists to new heights. But as most of us know by now,
Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Terry Butler, and Bill Ward expanded
upon that sound by warping the blue notes through screaming
amplification against the backdrop of a frenzied rhythm section.
When the sound was unleashed on the masses in 1970, it was
as though a long empty void was being filled. The new sound
was christened with a name, and that name was Heavy Metal.
Heavy metal has morphed into many different forms over time
since its inception. The legions of devotees of the dramatic
music are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions. Record
sales prove it. And like all movements that are seemingly
without end, it ebbs and flows in recognition within modern
consciousness. In 1987, after the meteoric rises of metal
innovators like Slayer, Metallica, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden,
and Anthrax, MTV launched a weekly specialty show called “Headbangers
Ball,” which was to showcase the much adored music.
It was a wildly successful show and ran a long course until
its cancellation in 1995. It died with all things hair related
when the grunge movement surfaced.
heavy metal fans are notoriously faithful, and even though
their musical heroes might have been pushed from the so-called
limelight of civilization, the intense movement was never
in any real danger of dying. This music didn’t embrace
fluff. It examined the human experience and was unafraid to
exist between the extremes of elation and horror. It has many
critics who fear it and claim that it has wrongly influenced
the youth of the world into sins and crimes against humanity.
But the reality is that there is a lot of pain in this world,
and because the authors of heavy metal were brave enough to
proclaim that truth, people connected to the music. They rejoiced
in its honesty. Any fan of metal knows that to listen to it
means to feel the full embrace of empathy. And then there
are the forceful driving melodies of the hard rhythms and
the burning wails of the guitars. Love it or hate it, heavy
metal moves us all.
And now there is a whole new generation of metal thrashers—both
artists and fans alike—and now that heavy metal is again
finding its place at the forefront of society, “Headbangers
Ball” has been reborn on MTV2, hosted by Jamey Jasta
of Hatebreed. It can be seen every Saturday night at 9:00
p.m. The show highlights the best classic and new metal videos,
interviews with the artists, and showcases the new metal talent.
“With some of the most loyal and diehard followers in
all of music, the return of ‘Headbangers Ball’
once again gives hard rock and metal fans a place that is
all their own,” says Joe Armenia, VP of Music Marketing
and Promotions for MTV and MTV2. “And with the show’s
new home on MTV2, we wanted to take it one step further by
bringing some of the best metal bands seen on the show each
week such as Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, and Lamb of
God straight to the fans for an unforgettable live concert
The Headbangers Ball Tour launched October 28 in Montreal,
Canada with the three aforementioned heavy metal heavyweight
bands serving as a triple-headlining bill. The bands will
rotate in the headlining slot, and as this article goes to
press, Century Media’s God Forbid has joined the tour
as the featured opening act. Eulogy Recordings’ Unearth
opened for the first leg of the tour.
The tour will serve not only to support the on-air return
of the “Headbangers Ball” TV show, but also to
support the release of the first-ever “MTV2 Headbangers
Ball” CD-set that was released on October 7 by MTV2
and Roadrunner Records. The double-disc album includes forty
tracks from the cream of the crop of established metal bands,
along with acts on the rise. Along with Killswitch Engage,
Shadows Fall, and Lamb of God, just some of the artists featured
on the album include Godsmack, Slayer, Hatebreed, Cold, Marilyn
Manson, Mushroomhead, Ill Nino, Spineshank, Chimaira, Stained,
Eighteen Visions and more.
According to singer Brian Fair of Shadows Fall, guitarist
Doc Coyle of God Forbid, and vocalist Howard “Howie”
Jones of Killswitch Engage, the tour is going smashingly well,
no pun intended. The guys called in from Vancouver to report
that they were having a blast on this tour. All the bands
on the bill have known each other and toured together before
and as Fair relates, “I can’t imagine a better
tour than this. These guys are all our friends. Every night
is a party. We’re all in this together.” The parties
are rolling, for sure, but the band members, admittedly, have
to pace themselves. Playing in the company that they are,
each band knows that the other three will slay night after
night so they all take care to be able to keep playing at
peak performance levels.
When asked what the crowd response had been like so far, Jones
said, “Great. You never know what to expect but this
has been pretty amazing.” Fair’s response was
“Brutal. Unearth did the first half (of the tour) and
from the first second of Unearth’s set until the last
second of whoever headlined, every night, it’s been
non-stop insanity. We’ve seen some seriously energetic
crowds. Bring your neck brace and make sure your health insurance
is paid up because it’s pretty crazy!” It turned
out to be the first night for Coyle and company to join the
bill and they were anxiously awaiting joining their metal
brethren on stage and initiating the auditory onslaught.
Each of the four bands performing on The Headbangers Ball
Tour has carved a niche for themselves within the realms of
metal mania, and they are poised to reign as the new metal
masters. Ironically, though influenced by artists who have
taken darkness and terror to what some view as an all time
low with their lyrical verses, this new hybrid of metal creators
has managed to capture every ounce of the fierceness of the
shock instrumentation necessary to be categorized as part
of this genre but, in addition, are boldly adding lyrical
messages of unity among the masses and declaring the importance
of giving thought to and taking action on issues relevant
to the social condition today. These boys refuse to go unheard.
They are using their forum to scream their messages. Some
are educated, some are impassioned, and all are unrepentant
in their love for and portrayal of Heavy Metal.
A powerhouse bill like this doesn’t come along every
day and it is a show, indeed, worth watching. The Headbangers
Ball Tour hits Texas on November 24 in Dallas at Trees, November
25 in San Antonio at The White Rabbit, and November 26 in
Houston at The Engine Room.