The Best of Both Worlds: Is Van Halen Metal or Not?

Before Van Halen became favorites on radio and prior to the bands lineup changes, they became one of the first uniters of hard rock and heavy metal. As time progressed, metal’s definition began to create question for Van Halen.

The wide range of well-defined heavy metal subgenres of today weren’t always very distinguishable. When metal exited its dormant years in the late ’70s and began to morph in the ’80s, the line between it and hard rock was quite blurry. Van Halen reeled in popularity with metal lovers, but the their sound can fall into the category of rock.

The Album

Van Halen, one of the leaders of the glam the glamorized music era, is often mentioned as an influence to  bands who possess a heavier sound. Their 1978 album, Van Halen, issued in a massive audience. Between Eddie Van Halen’s intricate note-weaving on the guitar and David Lee Roth’s onstage theatrics, the band won much praise. However, the band began to be tossed around between genres as their audience grew larger and the decades began to accumulate with some factors.

The Scene

No cliche tale about California’s Sunset Strip would be complete without mentioning Van Halen. The band helped to surface what soon came to be known as glam metal.. Although Van Halen was more relatable to the earlier phases of metal, they were paired with bands like Cinderella and Firehouse. Popping up on T.V.s at the time were music videos that paraded bands who delivered their emphasized fashion and party laden lyrics. This was also when people became acquainted with heavy metal’s persecution as a disturber of the youth. These factors merged to create a commercialized appeal that helped bands like Van Halen to become labeled as metal.


Van Halen remains  prominent among the names that began to fade with the delieverance of the ’90s and ’00s. Classic rock and metal easily accepts the band into their genres, but vagueness is present. Perhaps the presentation of the media helped to package the band as metal along with their contemporaries. Perhaps the definition of the present-day subgenres helps rather than hurts. While metal music fans have access to bands based on the variety, Van Halen is stuck between two areas of sound qualities.

It still leaves a concern: Are they more heavy metal or hard rock?


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