Bent Out of Shape: Has Heavy Metal Become a Joke? Part 2 — the Power of the Blues

by Will Wallner
Posted Dec 27, 2012 at 11:49am

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about heavy metal that provoked a strong reaction, both positive and negative.

I want to follow up on the subject to try and further share my point of view and address some of the comments it received.

The most important thing to remember is that I'm just voicing an opinion, and I'm not an authority on the subject, just a fan.

Some of the comments I received were directed at me personally and questioned my musicianship. All of these comments were related to bands and releases I wasn't even involved with at the point of reference.

For the record, my playing and songwriting is only on one official release. That's my self-titled debut album released in 2012 via Metal Mind Productions.

For judging purposes, take a listen and feel free to say whatever you want. I don't mind being judged, but only as long as it's for something I've actually played on!

Now let's focus on the subject of the blues and how metal seems to have lost its blues roots. I saw some comments that said some people were glad the blues was no longer a part of metal and that lead guitarists had evolved beyond the blues scale. All I can say in response to those comments is you're missing the point!

The blues goes beyond just a scale. It's more than just the six notes. The blues has nothing to do with what a musician plays. It's all about the feel, emotion, passion and conviction behind what a musician plays. The blues is something you feel from within and can be expressed in many different ways, including through heavy metal.

It's my opinion that the best music provokes an emotional response from the listener, and the reason I feel so dissatisfied after listening to the majority of modern metal bands is I don't feel any emotion toward the music. I can't feel what the musicians are trying to express, and I'm almost certain it is because they lack the blues.

But how do you define the blues? For me it's a sense of loneliness and struggle that is expressed through music, regardless of genre. One man and his guitar against the world. It is developed through real-life experience. It's about attitude and rebellion. Its also about love. It might not be considered very metal, but a broken heart will create one of the strongest emotions any human will feel in their lifetime. A real musician wouldn't be afraid to express these emotions through their playing. I'm not saying you have to sing love songs, but musicians should draw upon their life experiences to give meaning to their music.

As an example, listen to Gary Moore. Here's a solo that's pure emotion. You can feel the power of the blues within him, even though he barely plays the blues scale. In my opinion, this is heavier than the majority of metal today. It hits you in a way only a master musician can. What's even more unbelievable is that this solo was totally improvised!

To finish, I want to point out that there are also some fast players or shredders who do play with emotion and the blues. I don't think all shredders are robots. Eddie Van Halen would be at the top of my list as a player who has combined most perfectly speed and feel.

I know there's going to be a strong reaction to what I write. I find it difficult to put into words exactly what I'm trying to communicate, but hopefully you will get the general idea.

Don't hate me just because I have an opinion. I wish bigger musicians would talk about the things they don't like about current music and not be afraid to share their opinion. Nothing annoys me more than big musicians who, when asked about newer bands in interviews, never have anything negative to say, as if they like everything.

I started playing guitar because I wanted to make a musical statement and was unhappy with what I heard from new bands and their guitarists. Whether or not I achieve my goal, I can always rest easy knowing I've never gone against my personal values as a musician. Cheers.

Will Wallner is a guitarist from England currently living in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label 'Metal Mind Productions' for the release of his debut album which features influential musicians from Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. He is also the lead guitarist for 'White Wizzard' (Earache Records) and in 2012 toured Japan, America and Canada. Follow Will on http://www.facebook.com/wallnervain and https://twitter.com/willwallner.

Will Wallner is a guitarist from England now living in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and in 2012 toured Japan, America and Canada. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.