Welcome to Metal is Awesome, the weekly discussion highlighting all things rock and metal.
One of the best things about the rock and metal genres is that there is a place for everyone. No matter who you are, or what you identify with, us metalheads keep our community as a safe place for people who feel down or outcasted. We celebrate diversity and understanding when it come to people being different. See also: punk rock.
Kicking off Black History Month, I’m going to celebrate the African musicians that add extra flare to genre.
Longineu Parsons III – Yellowcard
Longineu Parsons (also known as LP) was staple for some people growing up in early 2000’s. His band Yellowcard rose to fame with their release of the album Ocean Avenue where his drumming fit right into the pop-punk scene of the day. LP helped for the soundtrack that is the youthful early 2000’s punk that most teens could relate to.
Franz Lyons – Turnstile
Turnstile’s bassist Frank Lyons is helping pave the way for modern punk. The band carries the classic hardcore style and gives it a cleaner and fuller revamp of the genre and is where Lyons shines. His bass playing beefs up the riffs the rest of the band puts out, making him a vital part of what makes modern hardcore a genre to be reckoned with. His energetic playing style gives him stand-out attention which will carry the band further into stardom.
Aaron Heard – Jesus Piece
Another notable person on the hardcore side of things is Aaron Heard of Jesus Piece. The brutality of his vocal delivery makes him a staple of the hardcore scene. The grunts and “oomphs” in his singing makes him easily recognizable to any trained ear.
Lajon Witherspoon – Sevendust
Definitely one of the best in the Metal scene, LJ Witherspoon has become a heavy hitter in the genre. The control he has over his voice allows him to provide soulful boasts over brain-punching music given by the rest of Sevendust. His performance in the song “Black” depicts his experience as a black man making his way through the hardships of racism and wishing everyone would ‘mind their business;’ this song’s powerful delivery showed the world that Sevendust has the strength to be a fan-favorite in Nu Metal.
Tom Morello – Rage Against the Machine
“That’s a guitar??” That question has come out the mouth’s of every person who’s heard what Tom Morello comes up with on the guitar. He is one of the most noteworthy black musicians due to his passion for activism and passion in topics such as racism and inequality. His music wow’s the world and always sends a powerful message while simultaneously completely reimagining what can be done on a six-string. Raise your fist and resist!
William Duvall – Alice In Chains
When Alice In Chains tragically lost frontman Layne Staley, it felt as if it’d be impossible to carry on without him since he was such a big part of the music of the 90’s. New singer William Duvall deserves tons of praise mainly due to how well he filled the shoes of the late Layne Staley. With the help of guitarist Jerry Cantrell, Duvall played a key role in evolving Alice In Chains into a band of a different mindset. His plethora of musical background and experience is helping keeping AIC afloat.
This one is probably pretty obvious. Jimi Hendrix. One of, if not THE, most influential African-American musician of all time continues to be a legend in the modern era of music. He rose to fame just after the civil unrest in the USA and united people through music. The man played lefty on a right-handed guitar. Tell me that’s not worth mentioning.
Bad Brains are one of the few bands that pioneered the rock and metal genre. These guys inspired the most essential metal musicians to pick up an instrument and pursue music, musicians such as Randy Blythe of Lamb of God. Without Bad Brains’ participation in the genesis of rock and metal as we know it, music as a whole would be a completely different thing.
Stephen Harrison – Fever 333
Much like Rage Against the Machine, Fever 333 are activists about issues involving race and corruption which is what makes this band just as important as any other. What seems to be a rage-induced take on the injustices of today, Steven Harrison writes the soundtrack of a new-day take on the hardcore punk of the early days of the genre. Harrison and company are here to keep the energy alive.
Derrick Green – Sepultura
Taking the place of the famous Sepultura front man Max Cavalera, singer Derrick Green had huge shoes to fill. Green helped manage to keep the legendary band afloat and keep what Sepultura is known for without cheapening the final product. He’s faced some scrutiny simply for taking the place of Cavalera, but whatever your view is of Sepultura’s history, you have to agree that Derrick Green is a strong part of the Metal scene.
Kadeem France – Loathe
Back in 2020, Deftones legend Chino Moreno stated that Loathe’s “A Sad Cartoon” is the best song he’s ever heard. Whether that’s an exaggeration or not, that would make the boys from Loathe very proud due to their heavy inspiration drawn from the style of Deftones. Singer Kadeem France adopted the shoegaze vocal style that is reminiscent of Moreno’s and is highly responsible for the praise that Loathe has received in the recent years.
Sergio Vega – Deftones/Quicksand
Sergio Vega is a groove master. Simple as that. His bass playing in Quicksand was recognized when the band opened for Deftones in an early tour. Sergio Vega later became the replacement bassist for one of the most influential and beloved bands of the modern era making Vega an automatic necessity of the rock and metal genre and it makes me proud to see his four-stringed masterpieces on a larger stage.
These guys listed above play a crucial role in the history of metal and graciously represent the African-American community in metal with their skill and influence. Without their contribution, the direction our favorite genre is headed would be entirely different.
Don’t forget to support these bands and appreciate what they’ve been doing!
From your Headbanger Helper, -Luke Brooks @luckylukephotos \m/