Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that includes groups and related styles that are virtuosic, powerful, and intense. Driven by the aggressive sound of distorted electric guitars, it is one of the most successful rock music genres.
The music came from the late 1960s heavy rock and roll bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Budgies in the UK, and Steppenwolf and Blue Cheer in the USA. It has deep roots in the 1960s Hard Rock as an extension of blues that prevailed through early rock musicians like Link Wray and The Kinks to later bands like Led Zeppelins and Cream. In the mid-1960s British bands such as Cream, The Yardbirds, Jeff Beck Group, and Jimi Hendrix are credited with developing the hard drums, basses, and distorted guitar sounds that distinguished heavy metal from other Blues rock.
It took on various forms during this time, with bands such as Saxon, Iron Maiden, and Diamond Head eliminating the influence of the blues and introducing some of the first songs with punk rock elements. In the mid-70s, the aesthetics came from Mythical Beast (mighty bass, complex dual guitars), Thin Lizzy (stage art), Alice Cooper (sizzling guitars and eye-catching vocals), Queen (thunder, medieval questions), Rainbow and Judas Priest to unite and amplify the diverse highlights of the hard rock sound palette. In the 1980s, music with a more aggressive, technical, and extreme sound was introduced. The term “heavy metal” as applied to the genre’s early excesses is no longer relevant, despite many new bands.
The most popular heavy metal style dominated in the late 1980s in popular mainstream music, but the coherence of the genre collapsed around the turn of the millennium when bands like Guns N Roses and Nirvana drew fans in different directions, and many of them disbanded to rap music. The majority of other 70s bands saddled with the buzzword were closer to the heart of rock music, like Sabbath. In the mid-2000s, a kind of traditional revival started, influencing groups and playing music similar to the style of the genre’s original pioneers from the 1970s, such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple.
A handful of other bands played other styles than Sabbath, but the doom-rock tracks they released in the second half of the late 1970s were an immediate and direct precursor of true heavy metal. Metal pioneers took the original sound from groups like Black Sabbath and incorporated rock and blues influences that made the traditional metal sound we know today. Many of these groups became significant influences on the next generation of musicians who listened to the New Wave of British (NWOBHM) bands. The influential compilation album Metal Muthas features songs by several NWOBHM artists.
Bands like AC / DC, Motorhead in England, Germany’s Scorpions, and Canada’s Rush have a hard rock sound rooted in other rock genres and have influenced the bands. Still, they are not considered musicians. Examples are the late 1960s and early 1970s and other bands from the 1970s and 1980s that significantly influenced music like Queen, AC / DC, Aerosmith, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, and Scorpions. Newer sub-genres may have a different sound, but the legacy of the genre’s early works is alive.
Only when Iron Maidens issued Number of the Beast in 1982, they forge themselves as a band in the truest sense of the word, but their first two records remain crucial for the emergence and beginning of this new style of music. Death Metal led to a more extreme version called Black Metal, followed by leading bands from England (Venom), Sweden Bathory, Denmark Mercyful Fate, and Switzerland Celtic Frost. They recorded more theatrical elements and performances than most death metal groups. To illustrate the resulting confusion within the genre, one can quote the progressive rock band Jethro Tull who were not considered heavy metal bands and never claimed to belong to this genre but were characterized by the spirit of the Aqualung album (1971-72) in a similar style to Code for Heavy Metal, for which the group received the Grammy Award for the best album by a group of this type for many years (Crest of the Knaves, 1987 ).
In 1979, the New York Times “leading popular music critic, John Rockwell, in another article described what he called “heavy metal or rock as aggressive music with a mind clouded by drugs, […] a crude exaggeration of rock that lends fundamental appeal to white teenagers. According to David Hatch and Stephen Millward, Black Sabbath and the many bands inspired them to focus on dark and depressing themes on a scale unprecedented in pop music.
In 1969, the debut Witchcraft Destroys Minds, Reaps Souls album, which the Covens released, featured images of skulls, inverted crosses, devil worship, and black masses in the albums, and groups “live performances marked their first appearance in rock music with the sign of horn that would become an important gesture in culture. While Judas Priest did not have a Top 40 album in the US in the 1980s, they are many definite post-Sabbath bands. Their double guitar attack with fast tempi and a non-bluesy metallic sound was an important influence on later acts.