Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thanks, Guitar Hero

Admittedly, it's not exactly news, but Guitar Hero in its current format is dead. I'll confess to being a little disappointed, being somewhat acquainted with the guilty pleasures of rocking out with a plastic guitar (or, more recently, a plastic drumkit).

In hindsight, it was hardly a surprise - the Guitar Hero franchise had just as many misses as it had hits - if not more. What was surprising, however, was that Activision could mismanage a franchise so badly that it could go from top selling video game of all time to cancelled in under four years.

Putting that aside, however, there are a few music-related things that I would to thank Guitar Hero for - things that will stick with me even though those plastic peripherals are all now gathering dust.

1. Introducing me to some classic bands that I'd never taken much interest in
There is a pretty long list of classic bands that I've been inspired to check out after enjoying their songs in Guitar Hero, including (but not limited to):
Iron Maiden
Thin Lizzy
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Judas Priest
Van Halen
ZZ Top
Blue Oyster Cult

The big name there, of course, is Iron Maiden. Never took a huge interest in them before... now I own 10 of their albums and have seen them live twice. Here is Aces High:

2. Getting me excited again about stuff I'd lost interest in
There are a few artists that I'd previously dabbled in, and then mostly lost interest in, only to have a track in Guitar Hero get me all excited about them again. The most screamingly blatant example here is Megadeth. I got Rust in Peace back in 2005, mostly liked it, but it just never really clicked with me. Then, after jamming Hangar 18 in Guitar Hero 2, I got really, really excited about Megadeth again - to the point where I'd now count them amongst my top 10 bands of all time and where I consider Rust in Peace to be the greatest thrash metal album of all time (yes, better than any individual Metallica record). Here is some dude getting a freakishly high score way out of my reach:

Other artists that fit in this category (although probably not to the same extent):
Jimi Hendrix
Stevie Ray Vaughan

3. Introducing me to some great new bands
GH played a big role in introducing some up and coming bands to the world. This admittedly deteriorated in later games as they opted more for the tried-and-tested, but it is thanks to Guitar Hero that I now count myself as a huge fan of The Sword. Here is their sensationally head-banging first single, Freya:

Also worthy of note are Canadian band Priestess, who contributed the excellent Lay Down to Guitar Hero 3.

4. Sudden Death
Yes, worthy of a point in itself, is the excellent Megadeth track Sudden Death that was penned for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Dave Mustaine and co. have produced some facemelting shredfests over the years, but this is one of their best.

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