In September of 1969, at a rock 'n' roll festival in Toronto, Canada, a live chicken made an unscheduled appearance during an Alice Cooper set. The unfortunate creature was reportedly torn limb from limb, the blood drained from its carcass, and...... Read Full Episode Summary »
In September of 1969, at a rock 'n' roll festival in Toronto, Canada, a live chicken made an unscheduled appearance during an Alice Cooper set. The unfortunate creature was reportedly torn limb from limb, the blood drained from its carcass, and the remains scattered throughout the front rows of the stadium, giving birth to one of the most extraordinary descendants of Heavy Metal: "shock rock." In Episode 4 of Metal Evolution: The Series, two central questions are raised: "Historically, where did the urge to shock an audience come from?" and "What are the antecedents of shock in rock music?" Starting with the ringmaster of mayhem himself, Alice Cooper, an artist who drew heavily on such diverse influences as Expressionist horror film and circus sideshows, we'll revisit a world of guillotines and gallows, electrocutions and sorcery. We'll then learn how New York City's Kiss dethroned Cooper by taking spectacle one giant leap forward, incorporating a fiendish cocktail of explosive pyrotechnics, Kabuki make-up, and leather and studs, spawning a "Kiss Army" of fans and a legion of terrified and infuriated parents. By the '80s, shock rockers Mötley Crüe and W.A.S.P., resembling androgynous soldiers of Satan, pushed violent sexual imagery to the forefront, prompting Tipper Gore's Parents Music Resource Center's (PMRC) infamous attack on song titles, album covers and lyrics. As we enter the '90s, shock rock had morphed once again with artists like Marilyn Manson, introducing a far more serious tone of underground intellectual disaffection, that made the grandstanding and braggadocio of the '80s artists seem positively quaint. Today, in conversations with bands like Slipknot, we'll discover how kids are plugging into a new kind of shock rock, steeped in a language of nihilism, abandonment, and troubling homogeniality, with a relentless soundtrack best described as a rapid descent into death. Fascinating and essential viewing.