Rock of the South

Dixie has long been a cultural and musical hearth for America and has been the birthplace of countless forms of music that have taken the country and world by storm. The most obvious genre to find life in Dixie is Country; however, the superior genre of music to spring from the musical talent of Dixians is Rock. While it spread throughout the world and has been influenced by many places and changed throughout the years, Rock started here. Much of Dixie’s music no longer belongs to the people who created it, but it is always nice to look back and see what was created here. Unfortunately, rock and heavy metal have fallen far from their Dixian influences.

While Rock n’ Roll first started here in the South, the most well know type of Rock to form here was ironically titled “Southern Rock.” Made popular by Lynyrd Skynyrd, this music characterized the typical Southern lifestyle but distinguished itself from Country with various Rock characteristics, most notably its focus on musical skills. Much like other forms of music generated in Dixie, Southern Rock drew much of its content inspiration from the hardships of the working class. Lynyrd Skynyrd received widespread positive reception and has been solidified as having a major impact on music and bringing Southern culture into the mainstream. While they tend to get little credit for things they achieved, or the impact they had, it is impossible to not see the popularity of their music. Free Bird, Sweet Home Alabama, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Gimme Three Steps, and many more are timeless classics that only could have been concocted by Southerners.

Lynyrd Skynyrd playing live with their original lineup

The golden days of Southern Rock came to an end on October 20, 1977 when Lynyrd Skynyrd, at the peak of their popularity, were in a plane crash which killed guitarist Steve Gaines, frontman Ronnie Van Zandt, and several others. Southern Rock never achieved the musical or commercial success like it had in the 70’s and it would not be until the 1990’s that Southern Rock, in a much heavier form, began to see a revival.

Metal, unlike normal Rock, took a bit more time to achieve success in Dixie. Despite the many failed attempts at metal bands from Dixie to achieve success, one band managed to make a breakthrough in 1990. With the release of the record Cowboys from Hell, the Texas based band Pantera broke into the mainstream, solidifying their popularity in 1992 with the release of the album Vulgar Display of Power. Darrell Lance Abbott, the lead guitarist commonly known by his stage name Dimebag Darrell, receives much posthumous praise and admiration for his guitar-manship and has gone on to be considered one of the best metal guitarists ever. For a second time, the South managed to create what was once a very popular subgenre, this time known as Groove Metal, originally coined by Pantera as ‘Power Groove’ during the making of Cowboys from Hell, and was heavily influenced by Thrash Metal.

The legendary guitarist Dimebag Darrell playing his infamous Rebel Flag themed Washburn

While Pantera continued to garner well deserved success with the release of more albums, the horizon began expanding for Southern Metal. Phil Anselmo, Pantera’s lead singer and New Orleans native, began expanding from the more extreme, rapid sound of Pantera into a bluesier, but still aggressive, sound with his band Down, participating in a growing trend of Metal brewing at the time. The band’s first album, NOLA, featured a mixture of New Orleans blues and metal and utilized dark lyrics largely involving personal struggles and addiction. This band, and the trend it followed, stemmed from the growing underground subgenre known as Sludge Metal. This subgenre was a bit more blues influenced and originated in Louisiana, specifically the New Orleans area. The underground scene was typically focused on speed and aggression, but the Grunge scene, specifically the Melvins, took strong root with the New Orleans underground. This brought in a sound that seemed to combine old school Doom Metal with Hardcore Punk, and a bit of unique New Orleans seasoning, to create a bizarre, but interesting, concoction.

Following Dimebag Darrell’s murder on December 8, 2004, the Southern Metal scene came to an abrupt halt. While several bands still produced the music, none were able to achieve the success that Pantera had and none of the smaller bands, such as Down, were able to achieve much success following one or two successful record releases. Much like the death of Southern Rock, and just about any great movement or trend in Dixie, the Southern Metal genre met a tragic end. While it is still possible to find good music in this genre out there, such as bands like Sign of the Southern Cross, they must be searched for and often do not garner much success.

The South once produced some pretty incredible music. Having had legendary influence on rock music and the metal scene, Dixie’s contribution to American music cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, the days of great Dixian music no longer appear to be upon us; the current wave of Southern influenced music is heavily cucked and often dominated by non-Southerners and urbanite leftists. As with many great things to find life in Dixie, Southern Rock and Metal met tragic ends. However, there is still hope to revive our music. We are a strong people and have not died off yet, despite the North’s best attempts to crush us. Much like the lyrics of our music, the future appears dark, but like our music, we must carry on through the hard times. As long as we are here, Dixie lives, and we will someday breathe life into our music once again.

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