Biker metal (also known as biker punk)[1] is a fusion genre that combines elements of punk rock, heavy metal, rock and roll and blues, that was pioneered in the late-1970s to early-1980s in England and the United States, by Motörhead, Plasmatics, Anti-Nowhere League and Girlschool.


Biker metal has been described as being influenced by punk rock, rock and roll, heavy metal[2][3] and blues.[4] Sleazegrinder, a writer at Classic Rock, described biker metal as "glam metal gone Mad Max".[5]

Biker metal is characterized by its mid-tempo approach to metal, its "gritty and American" sound, and its alignment with biker culture as a whole.[6] The genre has been contrasted with slower and more operatic forms of metal, such as Judas Priest's work in the early 2000s.[7] Similarly, biker metal eschews the speed and virtuosity that rose to prominence in the 1980s.[8]

Bands such as Black Moth, Orange Goblin, The Obsessed, Earthride and Black Label Society have been described as fusing the style with doom metal,[9][10][11][12][13] whereas Clutch have been described as merging elements of biker metal and Southern rock into their stoner rock sound.[14] Black Sabbath's song "Paranoid" has been considered a classic of the genre.[15][16]

Biker metal has proven influential to genres ranging from speed metal to hardcore punk and crust punk, and was integral to the development of extreme metal.[2][1] Giuseppe Sbrana of Botswanan heavy metal band Skinflint has stated that biker metal bands were heavily influential on the aesthetic of African heavy metal bands.[17]


The association with biker culture has been present for most of heavy metal and punk rock's lifetime: Thin Lizzy were photographed frequently with motorcycles stretching as far back as 1973; Joan Jett appeared on the cover of Outlaw Biker Magazine; Judas Priest used a biker image beginning in the mid-1970s, however also borrowed heavily from sadomasochism;[18][19][20] and the common dressing style of metalheads is closely tied to those in biker gangs.[21] Spin hails Motörhead frontman Lemmy as the first to bring motorcycle culture into punk rock and heavy metal, likely through the influence of earlier rock bands such as Steppenwolf, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Grateful Dead.[20] An early use of the term "heavy metal" was even present in Steppenwolf's 1968 song "Born to Be Wild", in reference to a motorcycle.[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b Smith, E.R. Extreme Metal: The Story of Punk and Metal's Interwoven History.
  2. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (2017). Speed Metal.
  3. ^ Gaines, Donna. Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids. p. 191.
  4. ^ WIEDERHORN, JON (24 March 2017). "39 years ago: Motorhead paved the way for Thrash with second album 'overkill'". Loudwire. Retrieved 23 September 2018. With their 1977 self-titled debut, Motörhead opened the floodgates for a new style of bluesy, bombastic biker metal, but two years later, on March 24, 1979, they rewrote the rule book altogether with the more urgent, combustive Overkill.
  5. ^ Grinder, Sleaze (7 March 2016). "Flash Metal Suicide: Steve Jones". Classic Rock. Retrieved 23 September 2018. So naturally, Jones wanted to keep the motor revving. And as we rolled into the last gasp of the 80s, biker metal was where it was at. COP, Warrior Soul, Zodiac Mindwarp, Spread Eagle, Horse London, Two Bit Thief, The Cult, Four Horsemen, I mean, everybody had long hair and dangling earrings and black biker boots and snorted whiskey and guzzled gasoline in '89. Biker metal was glam metal gone Mad Max, basically, and 1989 was truly the Year of Manly Living.
  6. ^ Epstein, Dan; Bienstock, Richard; Shteamer, Hank; Krovatin, Christopher; Grow, Cory; Hudak, Joseph (29 December 2015). "Motorhead's Lemmy: 20 Essential Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 July 2019. A herald of the laid-back biker metal of the band's latter years, "Born to Raise Hell" is a Motörhead classic lacking any pretense.
  7. ^ McIver, Joel (2008). The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists. Jawbone Press. p. 120. ISBN 9781906002206.
  8. ^ McIver, Joel (2009). To Live is to Die: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton. Jawbone Press. p. 85. ISBN 9781906002244.
  9. ^ Bienstock, Richard. "25 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2016". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 September 2018. Former Ozzy Osbourne guitar man Zakk Wylde spends most of his time these days churning out doomy biker metal with Black Label Society
  10. ^ Dome, Malcolm (5 February 2018). "Orange Goblin/Karma To Burn/Black Moth at Electric Ballroom, London live review". Classic Rock. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  11. ^ Kelly, Kim. "Live: A Week in Metal at SXSW". The Fader. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  12. ^ Law, Sam (6 May 2018). "six things we learned at desertfest 2018". Kerrang!. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  13. ^ Yardley, Miranda (24 August 2010). "BAND OF THE DAY: BIKER DOOM LORDS EARTHRIDE". Terrorizer. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  14. ^ McIntyre, Ken (7 December 2017). "How Clutch threw out the rules and made metal music their own". Classic Rock. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  15. ^ Bienstock, Richard (18 September 2018). "See type o negative's massive, melancholic live cover of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid"". Retrieved 23 September 2018. Seeing as Type O Negative are the band that brought heavy-metal doom to goth rock, it's no surprise that they were huge Sabbath fans. And while their best-known Sabbath cover is "Black Sabbath," from the original '94 Nativity in Black tribute album, a few years earlier (it was tacked on as a bonus cut to 1992's "live" album The Origin of the Feces) they took on the Sab's biker-metal classic "Paranoid," turning into a very Type O–esque dirge.
  16. ^ Bienstock, Richard (11 February 2016). "10 Epic Live Black Sabbath Covers". Guitar World. Retrieved 23 September 2018. And while their best-known Sabbath cover is "Black Sabbath," from the original '94 'Nativity in Black' tribute album, a few years earlier (it was tacked on as a bonus cut to 1992's "live" album 'The Origin of the Feces') they took on the Sab's biker metal classic "Paranoid," turning into a very Type O-esque dirge.
  17. ^ Marshall, Frank (31 March 2011). "Botswana's Cowboy Metalheads". Vice Media. Retrieved 23 September 2018. Also many metalheads in Botswana are cowboys from the villages and farms, so they mix the cowboy image with a biker metal look
  18. ^ Cope, Andrew L. (115). Black Sabbath and the Rise of Heavy Metal Music. Routledge.
  19. ^ Bayer, Gerd. Heavy Metal Music in Britain. p. 136.
  20. ^ a b Gaines, Donna. "Biker Metal". Spin.
  21. ^ Clifford-Napoleone, Amber R. Queerness in Heavy Metal Music: Metal Bent. p. 33.
  22. ^ Broadus Browne, Ray; Browne, Pat. The Guide to United States Popular Culture. p. 373.