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Why the 80’s was the Greatest Decade in the History of Hard Rock Music

The 80's Ruled

Every generation is partial to the music that defined their youth, so it stands to reason that 80’s hard rock will always be the decade of choice for those who grew up during that time period.  As a member of Generation X, I fall squarely in the middle of those who grew up on 80’s hard rock and heavy metal.  However, that is not the reason that I believe that the 80’s are the greatest decade in the history of hard rock music.  The main reason for this opinion has more to do with the culture than the actual music.  Truth be told, I spend much more time these days listening to the modern-day hard rock bands played on stations like Octane than I do listening to the music of the 80’s played on Hair Nation (see Hard Rock Daddy’s Top 52 Hard Rock Songs of 2013).

So, if it isn’t the music that made the 80’s the greatest decade in the history of hard rock music, what is the determining factor?

While the music was definitely a large part of it, the unity that was felt between fans of the genre created an “us against the world” mentality that made the decade the most memorable one in hard rock music history.  There was a magic that will never be captured again because of the splintering of one powerful genre into numerous subgenres.

People the world over are proud to call themselves “metalheads,” but nowadays, the word is open to interpretation by fans of the various subgenres.  The division of the once-united fanbase has caused infighting amongst the genres at both the fan and band levels.

Because of technological advances in the way that we consume music today and the ubiquity of social media, there will never again be a united front when it comes to the hard rock and metal genres.  If anything, there will be more splintering into niche subgenres that will continue to divide the fanbase in the future.

Because of the subgenre mentality of today’s metal fan, it has become increasingly difficult for bands to push the envelope of musical creativity without feeling the backlash from a portion of their fanbase on social media.

In the season 13 premiere of That Metal Show, Avenged Sevenfold frontman, M. Shadows, discussed the intense scrutiny that the band is under with each new record because of their constant change of direction.  Shadows said that the fan reaction to the band’s transition from metalcore to traditional heavy metal was so vitriolic that you would have thought that the band had murdered someone’s newborn child.  He also said that he stays offline to avoid the immense amount of negativity that exists on social media.

Avenged Sevenfold is one of the most successful hard rock bands of this era, but Shadows admitted that it was difficult being one of the first major acts to contend with the pitfalls of social media while trying to build a career.

While there was an eventual backlash against hair bands in the 80’s after Nirvana came onto the scene in the early 90’s, most metal bands were revered by fans of the genre.  They were, in many cases, larger than life and put up on a pedestal.  Even if they were criticized at times for their musical direction, they didn’t experience constant negativity and impossible scrutiny of their every move.

In the 80’s, most hard rock bands had at least one power ballad, and the fans embraced them whole-heartedly.  Fans filled arenas, and would sing along in unison when the power ballad was played live in concert.  The entire audience swayed together and held up their lighters as a show of support.

Today, bands are mocked for selling out and becoming soft if they deviate from their normal hard rock sound.  The arena show is something of a dinosaur in America, although it still exists in other parts of the world.  And the pain of a burning finger from a lighter has been replaced by a much less intense show of support from illuminated smartphones.

In the 80’s, the cost of attending a concert was so reasonable, that hard rock fans attended virtually every show that came to town.  To this day, I still remember the exact area of the parking lot where the metalheads from high school would tailgate before each arena show.  We didn’t necessarily travel in the same groups within the confines of the school, but we were bonded just the same by a shared passion for all things hard rock and heavy metal.

The world was a very different place in the 80’s, and the music and lyrics reflected the joy of simpler times.  We never gave a moment’s thought to terrorism in America, and with the exception of learning about current events for homework assignments, by and large, we were blissfully ignorant of the pain and sadness in the world.

We were the “youth gone wild.” We desired “nothin’ but a good time,” and found it in hard rock and heavy metal.  We simply wanted to “rock and roll all night, and party every day.”  Our music made us feel happy to be alive, and bonded us in a most powerful way.

We worked menial jobs and spent our hard-earned money buying records, concert tickets and other band paraphernalia.  And if, by some good fortune, we were given the opportunity to meet one of our rock and roll heroes, we treated them with reverence for the gifts that they had given to us, not disdain for a song or two that might not have been to our liking.

Hard rock bands today must work harder than ever to earn a living playing music.  All the while, they must deal with constant negativity from the squeaky wheels who would rather spend their time bemoaning the things that they don’t like instead of praising the things that they do.

Admittedly, time has a way of turning nostalgic moments into glorified memories.  A generation from now, today’s youth may very well long for the way things were when they were growing up.

While hard rock music of today is arguably as good as it has ever been, for my money, the 80’s will always be the greatest decade in the history of the genre because of its profound impact on an entire generation.

That Metal Show – Season 13, Episode 1: Zakk Wylde, M. Shadows and Jason Hook

That Metal Show Logo

After four seasons filming in Los Angeles, That Metal Show has returned to its East Coast roots for season 13.  The return back home for Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine has also brought back a return to the living room feel that TMS fans identify with most.

During their time away, each of the hosts have kept busy.

Eddie discussed his new book – Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Volume II, and the 30th anniversary of his radio show where Ace Frehley and Peter Criss reunited to play together.

Don discussed his upcoming release on Metal Blade Records entitled, Hell Bent For Laughter.

Jim discussed that he’s going to be on the new season of Californication, Girls and The Amy Shumer Show.  He also has an hour-long comedy special coming out this year.




Musical Guest – Jason Hook (Five Finger Death Punch)

Eddie revealed that Jason told him that being the musical guest on TMS was on his bucket list.


M. SHADOWS (Avenged Sevenfold)

M. Shadows recently had a baby and has another one on the way.

He spoke about the transition from metalcore to traditional metal, and says a lot of people acted like the band just murdered their firstborn child because of it.  Every record they do something different, put it out there, and whatever happens, happens.

Shadows likes to stay offline because there is so much negativity there, and he strives to live a happy life.  He took the high road when Rob Flynn publicly criticized Hail To The King for being too derivative.

The fanbase loves the album live, and that’s what matters most, which is why he just brushes off the criticism.  Shadows talked about how FFDP and A7X are the first generation of bands that have to contend with social media while fighting to become a big success.  He made a very good point about how people online say things that they wouldn’t say face-to-face.

A7X is in the process of creating their own video game.  They are helping to design the levels and help make the game themselves, unlike KISS who licenses their name for various products.


ZAKK WYLDE (Black Label Society)

Anyone who knows Zakk Wylde knows to expect the unexpected.  He came out carrying a plate of vegetables while wearing a ski mask and hat.  He said that he’s in witness protection after getting beaten up by a bunch of 11-yr olds who know his son.  Trying to capitalize on the A-Rod scandal, Wylde claimed that the plate contained Black Label, steroid-induced vegetables laced with Viagra.

Wylde was celebrating his 47th birthday on the day of taping.  Since it was too expensive to sing the English version of “Happy Birthday,” TMS had a mariachi band come out and play the song while singing in Spanish.  Eddie thought that it was a perfect fit given that the show is now recorded in Spanish Harlem.

There was a brief discussed about “Unblackened,” and BLS’s upcoming release – “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” (dropping on 4/8/14).



Both Wylde and Shadows were asked about whether they will push their sons to play music when they grow up.

Wylde said that he’ll give them the opportunity to do whatever they want, but they are exposed to all kinds of music and musical instruments.

Shadows said that his son already likes playing drums and tinkering around in their home studio, but he also likes playing basketball, and will not be pushed in any specific direction.

Eddie revealed that his 6-yr old son is consumed with Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, and sings them around the house.  However, a sign of progress for Eddie was his son enjoying Deep Purple’s “Burn” while driving in the car together.


TMS VAULT – ZAKK WYLDE (right after joining Ozzy)

A return to the big hair days.  Jim tells Wylde that he looks like a chick he banged back in high school.  Don says, you went from looking like an 18-yr old girl, to a guy that looks like he kidnaps 18-yr old girls.



KISS is finally makes it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

All of the guys understandably said “take it.”


TMS TOP 5 – THINGS GENE SIMMONS SAID HE INVENTED (referring to Gene Simmon’s bizarre statement about why he doesn’t come on TMS – he said in an interview with Rolling Stone that he invented every hand gesture that is used on the show).

  1. The Miley Cyrus Tongue
  2. Park Phantoms
  3. Kruise Ships (spelling it with a “K”)
  4. Van Halen
  5. Fire Breathing


RANK – Van Halen albums (Zakk Wylde)

Says that anything that has King Edward on it, is awesome, which is why he put the albums in chronological order, not best to worst.




If you could be in any other band – Starland Vocal Band

Song you wish you wrote“White Christmas”

One vice – breast milk (straight from the tap)

Best concert you ever attended – Mob Rules tour (Black Sabbath)

First album bought with own money“We Sold Our Souls For Rock And Roll” – BLACK SABBATH



If you could be in any other band – Guns N Roses

Song you wish you wrote“Back In Black”

One vice – Red Bull

Best concert you ever attended – Iron Maiden tour 2009 (A7X opened)

First album bought with own money“Ten” – PEARL JAM



First audience member stumps Eddie.  Jennifer brings out the box, but it’s empty.  Jason Hook offers to help out, and gives the guy his guitar.  It was the coolest STUMP THE TRUNK moment in the show’s history.



Eddie – Scorpion Child debut album

Don – Metal Church – “Generation Nothing”

Jim – Red Fang – “Whales & Leaches”



Better Vocalist…

Freddie Mercury vs. Robert Plant

Freddie Mercury wins based on vocal ability, but everyone preferred Led Zeppelin over Queen.

DVR Alert! That Metal Show Season 13 Premiere – Saturday, 1/18/14

That Metal Show Logo

The wait is over metal fans!  The 13th season of That Metal Show premieres Saturday night (January 18, 2014).  Unlike previous seasons, where the entire season was recorded within a week, this season will deliver fresh content as Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine do a weekly show from New York City.

Season 13 of That Metal Show consists of more episodes (12) than ever before, and features many of the top artists in the hard rock and heavy metal genres.  According to Eddie Trunk’s blog, the new season will feature many of the usual segments in addition to some new ones that are sure to appeal to TMS fans.

The season premier featuring Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde (celebrating his 47th birthday), Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows and Five Finger Death Punch’s Jason Hook was recorded earlier this week.

Hard Rock Daddy will feature a recap of each show every Monday (beginning 1/20/14), in addition to an interview with Eddie, Don and Jim sometime in February.

The recap of every Season 12 episode is listed below.


That Metal Show:  Season 12

That Metal Show:  Season 12 – Episode 2 (Corey Taylor, Josh Rand)

That Metal Show:  Season 12 – Episode 3 (Sebastian Bach, Rex Brown)

That Metal Show:  Season 12 – Episode 4 (Jake E. Lee, Rick Allen)

That Metal Show:  Season 12 – Episode 5 (Scott Rockenfield, Todd LaTorre, Dave Mustaine)

That Metal Show:  Season 12 – Episode 6 (Rob Zombie, John 5, Tom Keifer)

That Metal Show:  Season 12 – Episode 7 (Scott Gorham, Ricky Warwick, Neil Fallon)

That Metal Show:  Season 12 Finale

Avenged Sevenfold – “Hail To The King”: Hard Rock Daddy Album Review

Hail to the King

Avenged Sevenfold has risen to the top of the modern-day world of hard rock and metal.  Their incredible fanbase helped earn the band Most Dedicated Fans honors at the 2012 Revolver Golden God Awards.  With millions of fans around the world, and their new album Hail To The King debuting at the top of the Billboard Hard Rock Albums Chart, Avenged Sevenfold should be enjoying life on their metaphorical throne, but as the saying goes…heavy is the head that wears the crown.

The release of Hail To The King has raised the ire of some critics, which doesn’t come as a total surprise.  However, the critique of the album by Machine Head frontman, Robb Flynn, was surprising, unnecessary and quite frankly, way off base.

A7X frontman, M. Shadows, took the high road in his response to Flynn’s criticism, which accused the band of making an album that Flynn refers to as…“a blatant jackary of Metallica, Megadeth and Guns N’ Roses songs.”  While the influence of the aforementioned bands, as well as some others, is certainly noticeable on Hail To The King, the songs are far from a “blatant jackary” of anything.  Because of Shadows’ unique singing style, every track on the album captures the distinct A7X sound that the band has honed since their inception in 1999.  If anything, the band deserves praise for their decision to go back to basics to make a kick-ass album that pays respect to the musical heroes that inspired them.

The band is rightfully unapologetic about making an album that is sonically similar to bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.  In fact, Zacky Vengeance called the album “an homage to all of the music that we love,” and referred to the album as “the next evolution of Avenged Sevenfold.”  Shadows, in his response to Flynn’s criticism, stated…“I think when you take a record like this, and the way metal has become very blast-beat, screamy-oriented, when you kind of take things back, and go to a more classic-rock feel, you’re gonna get similarities to what we were trying to do; we were trying to make an Avenged Sevenfold album from the early 90’s and late 80’s.”

Ironically, the sound that has drawn criticism for being derivative actually makes Hail To The King stand out as unique amongst modern-day hard rock and metal albums, most of which are sonically similar to each other.  In going back to the future, Avenged Sevenfold has effectively bridged the gap between a generation of hard rock and metal fans who were left out in the cold by the grunge movement, and this generation of fans, many of whom have yet to discover the bands that helped define the genre.

While the influence of Metallica’s black album is the most readily apparent on Hail To The King, there are other more subtle influences as well:  Guns N’ Roses (Appetite For Destruction), Queensryche (Empire), Rainbow (Long Live Rock N’ Roll), and AC/DC (“Thunderstruck”) to name a few.

On Hail To The King, Shadows has continued his evolution from a screaming metalcore singer to a powerfully raw, gritty hard rock singer with an emotional delivery that is almost tortured, yet incredibly melodic.  This is the first album without founding member, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, who passed away in December of 2009.  While he will always be missed by the band and A7X fans, Arin Ilejay did an admirable job of filling The Rev’s very big shoes.  The drumming on the album is powerful, thunderous at times, with impressive double bass and driving beats that set the tone for the rest of the band.

The tight rhythm section formed by Illejay and bassist, Johnny Christ, lays the foundation for Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance’s impressive guitar harmonies, rivaling the legendary guitar duos of the 80’s (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Queensryche).  Gates’ leads and solos are as good as any guitarist of this generation, and will undoubtedly appeal to fans of guitarists like George Lynch, Yngwie Malmsteen and Richie Blackmore.

Hail To The King is a throwback to the heyday of metal.  The stripped down sound allows the songs to breathe, but there are still subtle layers that you really appreciate when you listen to the album through headphones.  From the fist-pumping anthems like the title track and “Coming Home” to the more moody songs like “Crimson Day” and “Acid Rain,” Hail To The King is one for the ages.

Hail to Avenged Sevenfold for making an album that will appeal to hard rock and metal fans the world over.  Check out the title track below…