Classic Rock Bottom

March Metal Madness...

A month of SHT dedicated to Heavy Metal. Why not! Lets take a stroll through this genre and see where it leads us. So theres no better place to start than at the beginning.

Developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States.   With roots in blues rock and psychedelic rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness.

Did you catch that last part about loudness? Now you know what to do...


Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin

1 - How Many More Times

Led Zeppelin had a fully formed, distinctive sound from the outset, as their eponymous debut illustrates. Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme, Zeppelin created a majestic, powerful brand of guitar rock constructed around simple, memorable riffs and lumbering rhythms. But the key to the group's attack was subtlety: it wasn't just an onslaught of guitar noise, it was shaded and textured, filled with alternating dynamics and tempos. As Led Zeppelin proves, the group was capable of such multi-layered music from the start. Although the extended psychedelic blues of "Dazed and Confused," "You Shook Me," and "I Can't Quit You Baby" often gather the most attention, the remainder of the album is a better indication of what would come later.

Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath

2 - N.I.B.

Black Sabbath's debut album is the birth of heavy metal as we now know it. Compatriots like Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple were already setting new standards for volume and heaviness in the realms of psychedelia, blues-rock, and prog rock. Yet of these metal pioneers, Sabbath are the only one whose sound today remains instantly recognizable as heavy metal, even after decades of evolution in the genre. Circumstance certainly played some role in the birth of this musical revolution -- the sonic ugliness reflecting the bleak industrial nightmare of Birmingham; guitarist Tony Iommi's loss of two fingertips, which required him to play slower and to slacken the strings by tuning his guitar down, thus creating Sabbath's signature style. These qualities set the band apart, but they weren't wholly why this debut album transcends its clear roots in blues-rock and psychedelia to become something more. Sabbath's genius was finding the hidden malevolence in the blues, and then bludgeoning the listener over the head with it.

Deep Purple
In Rock

3 - Flight Of The Rat

The cacophony of sound (spearheaded by Ritchie Blackmore's blistering guitar solo) introducing opener "Speed King" made it immediately obvious that the band was no longer fooling around, but the slightly less intense "Bloodsucker" did afford stunned listeners a chance to catch their breaths before the band launched into the album's epic, ten-minute tour de force, "Child in Time." In what still stands as arguably his single greatest performance, singer Ian Gillan led his bandmates on a series of hypnotizing crescendos, from the song's gentle beginning through to its ear-shattering climax and then back again for an even more intense encore that brought the original vinyl album's seismic first side to a close. Side two opened with the searing power chords of "Flight of the Rat" -- another example of the band's new take-no-prisoners hard rock stance, though at nearly eight minutes, it too found room for some extended soloing from Blackmore and Lord.

Uriah Heep
Demons and Wizards

4 - Circle Of Hands

This is the album that solidified Uriah Heep's reputation as a master of gothic-inflected heavy metal. From short, sharp rock songs to lengthy, musically dense epics, Demons and Wizards finds Uriah Heep covering all the bases with style and power. The album's approach is set with its lead-off track, "The Wizard": it starts as a simple acoustic tune but soon builds into a stately rocker that surges forth on a Wall of Sound built from thick guitar riffs, churchy organ, and operatic vocal harmonies. Other highlights include "Traveller in Time," a fantasy-themed rocker built on thick wah-wah guitar riffs, and "Circle of Hands," a stately power ballad with a gospel-meets-heavy metal feel to it.

Judas Priest
Sad Wings Of Destiny

5 - Genocide

The year 1976 was crucial for the evolution of heavy metal, as landmark albums like Rainbow's Rising and Scorpions' Virgin Killer began to reshape the genre. Perhaps none was quite as important as Judas Priest's sophomore effort, Sad Wings of Destiny, which simultaneously took heavy metal to new depths of darkness and new heights of technical precision. Building on the hard prog of bands like Queen and Wishbone Ash, plus the twin-guitar innovations of the latter and Thin Lizzy, Sad Wings fused these new influences with the gothic doom of Black Sabbath, the classical precision of Deep Purple, and the tight riffery of the more compact Led Zeppelin tunes.

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I could go on, saying that Sabbath really was Hard Rock, and Priest was the first really Metal-band, but I won't  It's the same saying, that MC5 and Iggy Pop & The Stooges was Punk. They were not, they helped create Punk. The first Punk-band was The Ramones.

I certainly agree, that all of the above bands helped create Heavy Metal, but what Metal really is, I think is a matter of opinion. No matter what any of you say, I'm entitled to my opinion: Sabbath didn't start out as Metal, but helped creating it later on, and so did Zeppelin. I'm not sure, I would call the bands "spinging out" from Purple for Metal (Whitesnake, Rainbow aso) or those influenced by Purple (among them Uriah Heep).

Some might even call Thin Lizzy for Metal, but I certainly wouldn't. It's goddamn Hard Rock!!! 

BTW. These albums from Zeppelin, Sabbath and Purple are TRULY classics, and among the best releases from those bands. The other two....not so much (IMHO).

Priest started out a bit weak, but when Sin After sin was released, they were on the right way.

Heep, I never really saw as a great original band, but they made some fine music when Pete Goalby was in front of the band. 

Niels, I totally agree when you say that metal is a matter of opinion.  Some folks think Kiss is a metal band.  I don't.  But, way back in the time frame being referred to, it was my opinion that Kiss was heavy metal.  But I really didn't know any better.  Now, I see most of these bands above a s hard rock.  But like you said, it's only an opinion.  

I didn't listen to a single one of these bands in the mid to late 70's, which was the beginning of my musical grooming time.  But when I finally got around to buying Black Sabbath's debut, I felt right away that it was heavy metal.  And had I listened to it at, say, ten years old, it would have scared me shitless.

I didn't either listen to these albums in the late 70's myself. The first Sabbat-album I heard and bought was "Heaven And Hell" and even that one wasn't Heavy Metal to me. But British Steel and "Iron Maiden" which I bought around the same time, were Metal to me. When I got around to listen to "Black Sabbath", probably around '81, it still wasn't Metal to me. It was Hard Rock, just like Lizzy, KISS and Van Halen.

Nobody can say "This is Metal...this is not Metal" but the bands themselves, and as I've said before: Tony Iommi says, they saw themselves as a Heavy Blues-band, when they started out. But ask Halford, if Priest is Metal?!!  Okay, any idiot can claim he's Metal, when he's not, for example in the late 80's in USA, but you get my point. 

The creation of Heavy Metal was kind of the point of this playlist.  The fact that these bands (sans Sabbath) are regarded as Hard Rock bands in 2015 is not really the intent.  If the year was 1972, this would definitely be right near the top of the heaviest stuff out. 

I suspect as we progress through the years we could rehash the same arguments, but I'm trying to play songs that have the ring of Heavy Metal in that time period. 

This was a fine playlist of music from the beginning of what is known as Heavy Metal. 

You must be sick.  You are never that pleasant. 

or that short...

Zeppelin - Definitely not Heavy Metal, but that's in retrospect.  I never listened to Zeppelin a lot in the late 70's and early 80's.  They became a staple for me a little later.  But I do remember my cousin having at least one LZ album.  Don't remember which one.  Seems like it might have been II.  Anyway, I can see why folks considered them a heavy metal back then.  As you have stated, the genre was being developed at that time.  The drumming is probably the heaviest thing for LZ, followed by the guitar of course.

Sabbath - This is a killer riff.  Absolutely killer.  I've stated before that this album would have scared me if I had tried to listen to it in the mid 70's.  I don't remember any of my cousins having any Black Sabbath.  This stuff was heavy then and it is still heavy today.  I would still classify Sabbath as heavy metal.  Yes, the plodding, screeching guitars provide that feeling, but for me, it's Ozzy's voice.  He is not a good singer, but he is a great heavy metal vocalist.  

Purple - Broken record here, but the only song I was familiar with back then was Smoke On The Water.  I can see why folks would lump this in with Zeppelin and Sabbath, but this is the least metal sounding track to me so far.  Put Ozzy's voice on it and it would sound heavier.  Just my opinion.  By the way, I have this album, but I can't really recall this song.

Heep - I knew absolutely zilch about UH.  I've grown to really appreciate more of their music in the last couple of years. It's funny to me that the keyboards, which didn't add to the heaviness of the previous track, do so here.  Just that keyboard itself adds to the mysterious, somewhat evil sound of the track.  That bass is sweet on this track.

Priest - In the 80's I remember liking Living After Midnight.  I also liked Another Thing Coming (or whatever it's actual title is).  Other than that, I never liked JP.  I've softened that stance a little lately, especially since I got their complete album box for 12 bucks (I'm still kicking myself for not ordering 2 or 3 of those).  This song is pretty good, but it's not as heavy in my opinion as the Sabbath track.  One day I'm gonna start going through the entire Priest catalog (since I got it for 12 bucks).  I think if I do, I'll find more that I like than I ever expected.

I own all five of these albums.  I'd rank them Sabbath>Zeppelin>Heep>Priest>Purple.  The last two are somewhat interchangeable since I'm not overly familiar with them,  

Nice post.  Looking forward to that next installment.

I really liked the way UH fit into this playlist and I loved ending it with Priest.  I think it shows the beginning and then ends with another beginning - the start of a transitional period...  I was tempted to include Priest in a NWOBHM post because I know that would get under Jon's skin a bit, but then I thought better since I do agree that Priest isn't really part of the NWOBHM list of bands and Im trying to be nice to Jon....  that and I may opt out of a NWOBHM post altogether...

Nice feedback!!  Love it when something new (that's really old) gets picked up on so well...

We probably need to discuss the rest of the month.


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