KISS, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper... what do these guys share in common?
Costumes, makeup, check.
The first time I saw all three I thought "Wow, this is what hard
rock/metal is all about, this should be good". And then I heard them.
I think it's fair to first say that I enjoy all three's music. That
being said, it was quite a let down to see these scary guys and then
hear how mellow their music is. Hell I'd even go so far as to say none
of them really sang evil-sounding ever. KISS and the 'Crue both spent
most of their time singing about partying and girls. What a let down
for a young kid like me. At the time I got into metal, I was still a
little young and didn't have the burgeoning interest in women all of us
have as we progress through adolescence.
Now let's try an experiment. Take a Kiss video (ok, skip the 80s ones,
they weren't in makeup) and put it on "MUTE". Next fire up Slayer's
"Reign in Blood" or any other suitable crazy thrash/death metal album.
It's quite a more imposing force isn't it? Don't you think parents would
REALLY had something to worry about then? That's what I was expecting
the first few times I saw them. By that time I had already read or
heard all the "Knights in Satans Service" and such, so I truly thought
these guys would sound kinda scary. Instead, they have some kind of
lame factor ingrained into me. These guys aren't horrible, but nothing
that just makes me as a guitar player reach up and want to break out
into a Kiss song. I know I'm in the minority here, but my favorite Kiss
era was when they ditched the makeup. Fat guys in spandex wasn't cool,
but the music was probably the hardest it ever was on those albums. I
genuinely like some of those riffs.
Next, there's Motley Crue. I love the 'Crue! Well, let me clarify
that: I've enjoyed about 3 songs off of every single album and the rest
could have been thrown away. They started off with "shout at the devil"
and wearing all the spikes and pads, but their music actually started
off in the more punk three-chord song structure. But not in the Sex
Pistols/The Refused kind of dangerous sounding punk; more a slightly
metallic version of the Ramones or something. Now, they've expanded a
lot over the years and the music got better. Mick Mars can really shred
when he wants to... but he doesn't seem to want to that often. And for
being such an awesome guitar player, why did Nikki Sixx write all the
songs? And that leads to another rant. Did anybody hear Sixx's "Sixx
AM: the Heroin Diaries?". Not as good as most Motley songs, but #1) I
think Nikki could have sung better than Vince Neil all those years and
#2) SIXX AM features one of my favorite guitarists, DJ Ashba, who used
to rock the house back in a band called Beautiful Creatures (think
nu-metal meets the 80s of bands like Crue and LA Guns). But off that
rant and back onto them... At no point in Crue's music did I ever think
they sounded "dangerous" and certainly not enough to even tack that onto
the image they had.
Now I don't expect people who play scary music to dress scary. It
doesn't have to be part of their image, I just think that people who
wear dark costumes should have music that somewhat reflects that. There
are plenty of darkly-imaged folks out there playing heavy music too, but
how far does it go before it just becomes a joke. No offense to the
crazy Swedish death metal bands with the white/black facepaint and
cookie monster vocals, but I don't really view you as that scary most of
So I pose this question for you. Who HAS managed to blend the two
I'll start with a couple and y'all are more than welcome to
agree/disagree with me here.
Marilyn Manson. Now this guy's music didn't start out too heavy in my
opinion, just kinda sludgy, like a dark Nirvana. I didn't start seeing
a real transition until around Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood. That's
when the music finally matched the image. Both are creepy as heck and
can be intimidating at times. I'm almost never bound to agree with
anything he has to say offstage, but I really dig a lot of his music.
Weirdo, yes. Music that matches, yes!
Slipknot. I'm from the mid-west, so I've been aware of these guys since
they were still slummin' in Des Moines. Like most folks, I shrugged
them off as more punks in costumes. I even listened to their first
album and didn't really think much either. But then I saw them live. I
was there to see Fear Factory, who'd recently reformed, open for
Slipknot and figured I'd already driven 3 hours for the concert. I
might as well stay to the end. And WOW, these guys delivered. The
costumes, combined with the intensity they played with really created it
all for me. As a concert experience, it's one of the best I've ever
seen and I've liked them ever since. But once again, the music matches
Granted, these are the "scary guys" of my generation, and the other guys
I talked about were the scary guys of the last generation. Who knows
what the next one will be like. Ten years from now, someone will be
talking the same trash about the guys I listed here haha. 50 years ago,
it was Elvis and the Beatles who had parents running for cover.