What's the first modern metal album?

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Some might think it's a simple question. If you consider Led Zeppelin metal, they clearly were the first to put out an album of any of the contenders. Yet the band has denied being metal, with Robert Plant describing their first album as "ethereal," and 1/3 of their music as acoustic. Led Zeppelin II has a higher proportion of rockers and certainly contain a few important elements of metal. But overall they're still very much rooted in heavy blues rock. It's easy to agree that Black Sabbath are certainly metal, with their ominous use of tritones, and Iommi detuning his guitar from E down to C# and Geezer Butler tuning his bass down to C#F#BE to match. However, they didn't start doing that until their third album, Master Of Reality in 1971. And while the slow, sludgy riffs were a huge influence on metal, the blues rock roots were still showing, and is thus considered by many to be proto-metal. The same with Deep Purple (who also denied the metal label), Uriah Heep and Budgie.

So what constitutes modern metal? A certain degree of technical accomplishment could be a factor, such as the ability to play solos with a certain amount of complexity and speed. Sabotage arguably achieves that sort of mastery. So does Sabbath Bloody Sabbath to an extent, although there are complaints that the production is too polished. Despite the progression beyond the relative minimalism of their first four albums, it might not be enough to convince everyone that either album demonstrates a clear breakthrough into modern metal.

Judas Priest's Sad Wings Of Destiny is definitely a strong candidate. After warming up with their 1974 debut Rocka Rolla, which is clearly indebted to heavy psychedelic rock, and the proto-metal of Deep Purple and Sabbath, their next album was definitely a breakthrough, with quick and flashy twin-lead-guitar pyrotechnics to Halford's incredible range from snarls to searing screams, to epic lyrical themes of Sun-tzu style warfare and Shakespearean drama. Yet what about the often overlooked third Scorpions album, In Trance (1975)? It also represented a similar leap as Judas Priest from Fly To The Rainbow (1974) to high energy metal, but a year earlier. Produced by Dieter Dierks, it may not hit all the peaks as Sad Wings, but it sounds pretty modern to my ears. Not a lot seems to have been written about it, but Uli Jon Roth named it his favorite Scorpions album along with Virgin Killer.

Also released in 1975 was Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. This is an important album in that the former Deep Purple guitarist (who was still with that band when he started Rainbow) joined forces with Ronnie James Dio, who shared his love of medieval styles of art and music and sword and sorcery lyrical themes, something that would become a big part of modern metal. However it's debateable that all of the album is consistently metal as opposed to simply hard rock, and it's not considered as successful as Rising (1976).

While Lemmy vehemently insists that his music is simply "rock 'n' roll" as opposed to metal, the debut Motörhead album clearly was a big influence on modern metal with it's power, speed and grit. So much that punkers often exclusively respected the band among their hard rock and metal peers. They were also a big influence on the budding New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene, especially the likes of Iron Maiden, whose Paul Di'Anno was a bit of a punker, Saxon and Venom.
The last entry on the list is Judas Priest's Stained Class (1978), which again took another step forward into a deadly, modernized metal juggernaut. There's no point in going beyond this album, because there's no way this isn't modern metal.

Poll Results

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (February, Friday the 13th, 1970) 30
Judas Priest - Sad Wings Of Destiny (March 1976) 6
Led Zeppelin II (October 1969) 4
Judas Priest - Stained Class (February 1978) 3
Rainbow - Rising (May 1976) 3
Black Sabbath - Sabotage (July 1975) 2
Led Zeppelin I (Janurary 1969) 2
Black Sabbath - Master Of Reality (July 1971) 2
Deep Purple - In Rock (June 1970) 2
Motörhead - Motörhead (August 1977) 1
Budgie (June 1971) 1
Uriah Heep - Very 'eavy... Very 'umble (June 1970) 1
Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (December 1973) 0
Scorpions - Virgin Killer (1976) 0
Scorpions - In Trance (September 1975) 0
Rainbow - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (August 1975) 0
Judas Priest - Rocka Rolla (September 1974) 0
Scorpions - Fly To The Rainbow (November 1974) 0

Fastnbulbous, Sunday, 8 August 2010 23:18 (eleven years ago) link

Paranoid seems like a pretty big omission there.

blackened symphonic epic porno tech doom-core (J3ff T.), Sunday, 8 August 2010 23:29 (eleven years ago) link

i can't imagine Black Sabbath not being considered metal.

Mosquepanik at Ground Zero (abanana), Sunday, 8 August 2010 23:39 (eleven years ago) link

I don't see why would one choose Paranoid over the debut. I included some later Sabbath albums because of significant changes, which I explain above.

I included the early entries from 69-71 for those who don't believe there's anything to significantly distinguish early proto-metal from modern metal. Those who vote for those, feel free to explain why.

Fastnbulbous, Sunday, 8 August 2010 23:50 (eleven years ago) link

Fwiw, I don't know what the answer is (and I included a Link Wray album in my metal book), but when I saw the thread title (with "modern" in it), I actually assumed the choices would be bands like Venom, Metallica, Slayer, and maybe even some later death/black/grind choices. (Think of, say, the Decibel Hall of Fame -- what the oldest album in that so far?)

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 01:15 (eleven years ago) link

So I guess another question would be: What was the first non-modern metal album? (If Zeppelin and Sabbath are "modern" metal, doesn't that imply there was less modern metal before them?)

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 01:17 (eleven years ago) link

monks banging against pots in the cloister

Mordy, Monday, 9 August 2010 01:18 (eleven years ago) link

So I guess another question would be: What was the first non-modern metal album? (If Zeppelin and Sabbath are "modern" metal, doesn't that imply there was less modern metal before them?)

would guess that the zep and sabbath albums are included to provide options for those who deny that there's a profound difference between that kind of early/proto metal and the more "modern" sort.

a CRASBO is a "criminally related" ASBO (contenderizer), Monday, 9 August 2010 01:32 (eleven years ago) link

judas priest. in general. them and others, but they are a conveniently famous example. first van halen album should be up there too.

scott seward, Monday, 9 August 2010 01:34 (eleven years ago) link

Not the 1st Death album? Only suggesting because the term "modern metal" was used instead of "heavy metal."

billstevejim, Monday, 9 August 2010 03:00 (eleven years ago) link

As far as "modern" metal, I'd go with Sad Wings of Destiny. Or Kill 'em All. Both kicked off major paradigm shifts in the genre.

A. Begrand, Monday, 9 August 2010 03:08 (eleven years ago) link

Isn't Blue Cheer kind of getting the short end of the stick here?

My totem animal is a hamburger. (WmC), Monday, 9 August 2010 03:10 (eleven years ago) link

xp I still don't get how this poll makes sense unless you have both stuff earlier than Zeppelin (Hendrix or Iron Butterfly or Blue Cheer or Steppenwolf or the Yardbirds, say) and stuff later than Priest (Venom or Metallica or Death, say) as possible choices. All depends on how you define "modern" and "metal." (And yeah, I'm on record as one of those people who "denies there's a profound difference, etc." But there's cleary some difference. And it's not like the differences started with Zep, or ended with Judas Priest.)

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 03:10 (eleven years ago) link

i just think that later metal/modern metal followed the path of judas priest for the most part. obviously there were a zillion other bands that contributed to what is heard today. but priest are kinda the perfect example as far as what came after them. and they started really early. stuff they did in the mid-70's still sounds pretty modern to me!

scott seward, Monday, 9 August 2010 04:05 (eleven years ago) link

really, though, i love most of the stuff on that list up there. it's wonderful stuff. and all those bands helped inspire people to make like-minded heavy stuff. forever. god bless them all.

scott seward, Monday, 9 August 2010 04:08 (eleven years ago) link

plus, just so cool. and they could play vicious hard rock and awesome disco metal. they could do it all, really.


scott seward, Monday, 9 August 2010 04:12 (eleven years ago) link

I guess the answer to the rap version of this question would be The Chronic

Whiney G. Weingarten, Monday, 9 August 2010 04:22 (eleven years ago) link

dre was the next level.

scott seward, Monday, 9 August 2010 04:23 (eleven years ago) link

then the wu did it again. and timbaland. and others. who now? i dunno. everything sounds really modern to me. i don't know who sounds extra-modern.

scott seward, Monday, 9 August 2010 04:26 (eleven years ago) link

Truth by the Jeff Beck Group!!!

sexual intercourse began in 1963 (m coleman), Monday, 9 August 2010 04:27 (eleven years ago) link

Montrose -- 1973

Certainly needs mention.

Gorge, Monday, 9 August 2010 04:44 (eleven years ago) link

was loving this so much earlier today:


scott seward, Monday, 9 August 2010 04:49 (eleven years ago) link

yeah, lots of things need to be mentioned, but that's why we have the hard rock thread. i can thank everyone there yearly. i still think priest is a good all purpose answer. its neat and tidy. they started out playing with those early bands and then just kept it going. for a long time! they refined the formula.

scott seward, Monday, 9 August 2010 04:52 (eleven years ago) link

I have never ever heard or read of any sort of consensus from anyone who knows and likes metal, that Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, Blue Cheer, Steppenwolf, Yardbirds, Vanilla Fudge or Jeff Beck are metal. Except for Chuck of course, heh. Heavy blues rock, yeah. But they're no more metal than Alice Cooper, New York Dolls, Nugent, Lynyrd, Grand Funk Railroad, Foghat, Black Oak Arkansas... Montrose definitely broke some ground in hard rock, which Van Halen took to a new level. AC/DC (at least in the 70s) was not metal. There's no way Van Halen is metal, but I might have been convinced adding their debut to the poll given how Eddie's guitar playing had a big an influence in metal, if it weren't for the fact that it came out on the exact same day as Priest's definitive Stained Class! If it came out a week earlier, then I could see a case for it, but is there really any contest?

Whenever I have seen the term "modern metal" used, it has always been to differentiate from the early proto-metal bands, and usually referring to Judas Priest as the key pioneer. That had been my position for many years, until I reconsidered the 1975 offerings from Scorpions and Sabbath, and even possibly Rainbow. I'll give the reasoning for my choice when the poll is over. But it simply didn't occur to me that anyone would take seriously the notion that modern metal did not exist until it splintered into NWOBHM, thrash, speed, death, black, etc. Hundreds and hundreds of obviously modern metal albums had been released before Kill 'Em All!

Leave it to ILM to want to talk about every band except those included in the poll!

Fastnbulbous, Monday, 9 August 2010 05:35 (eleven years ago) link

'Stained Class' for me

the earlier stuff was heavy blues. Heavy blues that I love like my firs-born and is the stuff that rules my world. But yeah, not sure if it's metal. If I had to pick an early album, then it is 'DEEP PURPLE IN ROCK'

That album slays. I think one of the missing choices in this "poll" is MC5 'Kick Out the Jams'.

If that is not a Heavy Metal record, than I do not know what is. I've long thought that in between the 1969 s/t 'Deep Purple' LP on Bill Cosby's Tetragrammaton label, and the first Deep Purple "MARK II" album 'In Rock' on Warners, Ritchie Blackmore had heard 'Kick Out the Jams' and heard the future of music.

It's the only way I've been able to explain the radical difference between 1969 s/t and 'In Rock'. The riffs and guitar attack sound completely inspired by the Detroit revolution of 1969. The blues are mostly out the window (except for the opening "Speed King", which, while referencing Little Richard, still is an amazingly wicked track -- especially of course on the European edition of the LP with the freakout opening.) But tracks like "Flight of the Rat"? Nobody had written speed-riffs like that, that was fucking insane. And stuff like "Hard Lovin'-Man"? feedback-drenched freakouts ... so much so that Merzbow actually recorded a composition based on chopping and screwing the feedback from "Hard Lovin Man" (one of my all-time fave Merzbow releases too, by far)

So yeah, 'In Rock' for early stuff. If people still feel that that is too blues damaged .. than 'Stained Class' for sure. that album is the rosetta stone for speed metal. "Exciter". holy fuck. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to hear "Exciter" when it first came out. oh and Les Binks ftw

Stormy Davis, Monday, 9 August 2010 05:43 (eleven years ago) link

Great post. I read in a couple places, possibly liner notes that said it was Blue Cheer that inspired In Rock. Though who knows, they may have heard MC5 too. Like the Stooges, I can't really call MC5 proto-metal nor proto-punk. Just fucking awesome heavy rock. I recently wrote about and listed my favorite heavy rock albums here.

Fastnbulbous, Monday, 9 August 2010 06:32 (eleven years ago) link

First Sabbath album, definitely.

village idiot (dog latin), Monday, 9 August 2010 08:45 (eleven years ago) link

xp If there was "consensus," you wouldn't need a poll. But I'm fairly sure that most of the bands you name (certainly AC/DC and Van Halen and Nugent and Alice Cooper and Blue Cheer) would have been widely agreed upon to be "metal" in the '70s, at least in all the articles and books from that time period I've read. It's certainly not an idea I invented when I wrote my book, believe me. For those bands, at least, I was following the consensus.

But okay, maybe that's not "modern" (though again, "modern metal" implies a "pre-modern metal," by definition.) Truth is, I've never much understood how people hear Sabbath as a "blues-rock" band, compared to, well, almost all the "heavy blues rock" that had preceded them. Well, maybe their debut, a little, but by Paranoid (not up there), to me the blues (compared to other blues-rock) is mostly out the window. Deep Purple and Uriah Heep too, really. Hell, even early Queen (not up there.) Early Priest were fine, I guess (right, I admit it now), but I still don't hear what they added to the equation that wasn't there already. (Though yeah, I guess they changed it somehow. But so did lots and lots of other bands.) So I guess I'll vote for Sabbath's debut, for lack of a better choice.

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 10:37 (eleven years ago) link

Eh, that sounded crankier than I wanted it to. By "better choice," I guess I just mean Paranoid-- something about sounding like it tips the scales of loud rock's primary influence from the blues over to horror soundtracks seemingly rooted in some sort of European classical tradition. Or something. But really, Sabbath's debut is probably fine for this. They just refining the idea on their next couple LPs (never got the appeal of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath though), and then other bands did too, later. ("Pre-modern metal," in that scheme, would be the Butterfly/Cheer/Fudge/Zep etc heavy blooze doods.)

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 11:37 (eleven years ago) link

"Paranoid" is a lot less blues rock influenced than the debut album, but it's still in there: "War Pigs" is obv. inspired by "If Six Was Nine" for instance. "Master of Reality" seems like the big break with the past to me.

tom d: he did what he had to do now he is dead (Tom D.), Monday, 9 August 2010 11:41 (eleven years ago) link

Led Zep II seems about right to me - never actually liked it much though

Ismael Klata, Monday, 9 August 2010 11:47 (eleven years ago) link

^ crazy talk

tom d: he did what he had to do now he is dead (Tom D.), Monday, 9 August 2010 11:49 (eleven years ago) link

Metal Machine Music?

i'm going with zep ii of the above listed, tbo. i mean, everything sabbath, purple, priest, et al would later refine into tr00-bl00 metal is right there--i.e., warped-out fuzz riffs, unholy bass tones from the dankest depths, berserker bonham beats, high-pitched vocal shrieks, tolkien mythologizing run amok, demented bluez, etc. if you've the earz to listen, and the "mind" to contemplate and overcome whatever petty preconceptions you maybe bring to "our" favorite playground grotto, that is. hell. everything else is just so much fashion accessorizing, afaic.

AC/DC and Van Halen and Nugent and Alice Cooper and Blue Cheer) would have been widely agreed upon to be "metal" in the '70s...

True. Even in 1979, there were barely any albums out yet that were influenced by Priest, Scorpions and even Van Halen that one had much of a clue what modern metal was going to be like. So far the basic building blocks were the heavy bits from Zep, Purple and Sabbath as they key archetypes. Only later in hindsight, does one learn that nearly all the bands in the 80s short of the doom bands owed something to Priest, and some to Scorpions, Rainbow, Motorhead, Van Halen as much and more than the Led-Purple-Sabbath ground zero. As we're no longer in the 70s, we hear albums from 1970-78 differently, with some sounding more pre-historic (e.g. pre-metal) than others.

Fastnbulbous, Monday, 9 August 2010 13:37 (eleven years ago) link

It's outside the remit of this poll, but Reign In Blood is the earliest metal album I've heard with virtually no blues influence at all. I guess they were just refining what they'd been doing for a few years, but in terms of machine-tooled precision they made Judas Priest sound like Son House. Anything earlier that you could say the same about?

A prog venn diagram for you to think about (Matt #2), Monday, 9 August 2010 13:50 (eleven years ago) link

That's a real good point

Whiney G. Weingarten, Monday, 9 August 2010 13:52 (eleven years ago) link


pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 9 August 2010 13:53 (eleven years ago) link

xp Fwiw:

Top 10 Metal Albums Of The '60s (from a mid '80s Creem "Close-Up" special issue)
the yardbirds - s/t
the who - sings my generation
the troggs - s/t
vanilla fudge - s/t
jimi hendrix experience - are you experienced
cream - disraeli gears
mc5 - kick out the jams
the stooges - s/t
black pearl - s/t
led zeppelin II

Top 10 Metal Albums of the '70s (same issue)
the godz - nothing is sacred
kiss - destroyer
pere ubu - 30 seconds over tokyo b/w heart of darkness + final solution b/w cloud 149 (45s)
grand funk - grand funk love
alice cooper - killer
blue oyster cult - s/t
blue oyster cult - the blue oyster cult bootleg EP
black sabbath - master of reality
iggy and the stooges - raw power
black sabbath - paranoid

Top 10 Metal Albums Of The (well, early) '80s (same issue)
motorhead - ace of spades
the lords of the new church - s/t
zz top - eliminator
ac/dc - back in black
accept - balls to the wall
hanoi rocks - back to mystery city
venom - black metal
plasmatics - new hope for the wretched
twister sister - you can't stop rock'n'roll
motley crue - too fast for love

And nope, I didn't write any of it. (Did probably rip some of it off later, though.) (Also, note: No Priest or Maiden.)

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 13:57 (eleven years ago) link

I'm going with the first Sabbath album, for reasons similar to what xhuxk said. It seems like the first album that used its heaviness to creep listeners out rather than to rock them or suggest sex. The "modern" cookie monster vocals feel to me like an attempt to replicate the underworld feel of Iommi riffs vocally.

President Keyes, Monday, 9 August 2010 14:00 (eleven years ago) link

xp "grand funk live", not "love" obv

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 14:05 (eleven years ago) link

Grand Funk Live is pretty heavy in the modern sense.

Ive always used the Sabbath debut as the touchstone here.

Chicago to Philadelphia: "Suck It" (Bill Magill), Monday, 9 August 2010 15:37 (eleven years ago) link

I'm not surprised by that CREEM list. I stopped reading it regularly in '83 because it seemed to be going downhill. I always liked their irreverence, but it was becoming dangerously similar to CIRCUS. No Metallica, Maiden, Scorpions, Priest, Mercyful Fate, Raven, Loudness, Dio, even Def Lep = useless!

Fastnbulbous, Monday, 9 August 2010 17:54 (eleven years ago) link

Kinda doubt Circus would have listed Troggs/Black Pearl/Pere Ubu/Godz/bootleg BOC EPs in any metal Top 10s, ever, to be honest. (And Creem Metal was always way funnier and more irreverent than Circus in general, are you kidding? Then again, you stopped reading it -- Which explains how you wouldn't know.)

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 17:59 (eleven years ago) link

I assume a bunch of totally out of touch old farts who didn't like anything post 79 wrote for it?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 9 August 2010 18:00 (eleven years ago) link

Well, some did. But sometimes they were right.

Metallica, Maiden, Scorpions, Priest, Mercyful Fate, Raven, Loudness, Dio, even Def Lep

Also, wouldn't some or most of these bands have been all over CIRCUS, actually? (Pretty sure they all got coverage in Creem Metal at times, too; just not always fawning coverage, boo hoo.)

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 18:03 (eleven years ago) link

Fwiw, those top 10s I listed were by Richard Riegel (60s), Gregg Turner (of Angry Samoans/fighting a lot with Metal Mike Saunders fame) (70s), and Sylvie Simmons (who was also in KERRANG a lot iirc) ('80s.)

xhuxk, Monday, 9 August 2010 18:05 (eleven years ago) link

Heh, I just meant I stopped reading it regularly. I still have a couple issues lying around from 84-85 (see below). Seems like David Lee Roth was on multiple covers a year. I'm not saying there weren't still major differences between CREEM and CIRCUS. So those lists were just from those individuals and not polled from the whole staff, which makes a lot more sense.


Fastnbulbous, Monday, 9 August 2010 18:20 (eleven years ago) link

While Lemmy vehemently insists that his music is simply "rock 'n' roll" as opposed to metal, the debut Motörhead album clearly was a big influence on modern metal with it's power, speed and grit. So much that punkers often exclusively respected the band among their hard rock and metal peers.

while i don't doubt or question motorhead's metalness, i don't think being liked/respected by punks in the late '70s and early '80s is a good argument for them. if anything, that would go in the "con" column, wouldn't it? my impression is punk-rockers liked 'em back then because they didn't sound like metal at all to their ears. they sounded like the "rock n roll" that lemmy claimed to be. punks weren't exactly clamoring to buy priest or maiden albums back then.

fact checking cuz, Monday, 9 August 2010 18:22 (eleven years ago) link

Pere Ubu? Metal?? Is crazytalk.

Officer Pupp, Monday, 9 August 2010 18:25 (eleven years ago) link

I blame that Bruce Dickinson

tom d: he did what he had to do now he is dead (Tom D.), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:39 (eleven years ago) link

XP: I mean, would it be any easier to pin point when hip hop 'became a white thing' (in terms of who buys it) in the US? Or even if this is actually the case...

Duran (Doran), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:40 (eleven years ago) link

so did i, but there was still some middle class kids and they were the few that listened to metal. Most people were into U2, INXS, Simple Minds & co


pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:40 (eleven years ago) link

Yes, the Beastie Boys.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:41 (eleven years ago) link

Most people were into U2, INXS, Simple Minds & co

The Minds, you mean

tom d: he did what he had to do now he is dead (Tom D.), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:41 (eleven years ago) link

but Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath, the track... was the start of heavy metal."

I actually agree with this. That's why I voted for that album.

― Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Thursday, August 12, 2010 10:37 AM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark


Chicago to Philadelphia: "Suck It" (Bill Magill), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:42 (eleven years ago) link

well Ayr wasnt actually 100% working class, it always had a tory mp, but it was a catholic school so pupils came from all over the place.I lived in Prestwick which was like 50/50.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:42 (eleven years ago) link

I blame that Bruce Dickinson

ha, me too! maiden went from songs about finding yr deadbeat dad and stabbing ppl at tube stations to adaptations of coleridge poems wtf

(e_3) (Edward III), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:43 (eleven years ago) link

I'm voting for "Boris the Spider" as the start of heavy metal (Hendrix's fave. Who song)

tom d: he did what he had to do now he is dead (Tom D.), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:44 (eleven years ago) link

anyway it wasnt kids whose parents bought their house and working hard to pay for it, it was definitely kids of teachers, doctors,lawyers that were into maiden and the like. Could just have been my school, if there was more than 10 people in my school who liked metal I'd be shocked (gnr were the exception)
Some ilxors who went to private school say metal was really popular in the late 80s.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:46 (eleven years ago) link

mussorgsky invented metal when he wrote "night on bald mountain"

(e_3) (Edward III), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:46 (eleven years ago) link

first metal video


(e_3) (Edward III), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:48 (eleven years ago) link

i think we were just hung up on the wrongness of this:

"it's just that no one really followed on from this single, giving it more of a novel nature."

"Now, imagine an alternate history where loads of groups had purposefully modified or fucked up amps to mimic this sound, with loads of groups having this really raw distortion, then the history of popular music as we know it would be totally different. But for better or worse, they didn't."

the other stuff you have been saying seems less wrong. though i still think metal bands of the 70's were more inspired by the four million metallic and distorted kinks covers recorded in the 60's then they were hammer movie soundtracks. hammer MOVIES i definitely see as an influence for bands like sabbath and zior and other 70's doomsters.

scott seward, Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:49 (eleven years ago) link

Well, I can only apologize. I don't think that the Kinks are uninfluential. I don't think that metal doesn't have some roots in garage rock. I'm just interested in looking at things from a non-canonical point of view and I don't 'feel' a visceral link between You Really Got Me and Children Of The Void... purely a personal thing. As for the Hammer thing, I'm only going on what the band have said themselves (even though I know bands aren't always the most reliable of witnesses.

Poster upthread is right about Dicko. He's insanely posh. My colleague had a lecture on Coleridge's Ancient Mariner from him while at school. He flew to the lesson in his spitfire and landed on the rugby field, walking into the classroom wearing a leather flying helmet and goggles.

I was speaking to him outside a Metal Awards bash in Hackney some years ago and when two young ladies walked past he said, in the style of Terry Thomas (apologies to American posters and anyone under the age of 35): "Oh hello! Ding dong!" I was both appalled and elated simultaneously.


Duran (Doran), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:57 (eleven years ago) link

I feel that I shouldn't have to keep on saying, by the way, that the Kinks reference is specifically in relation to the birth of heavy metal and not to rock music in general. Slightly aggravating case of internet literalism. As much as I don't like The Kinks, I am vaguely aware of their heritage...

Duran (Doran), Thursday, 12 August 2010 14:59 (eleven years ago) link

... now there was a working class band!

tom d: he did what he had to do now he is dead (Tom D.), Thursday, 12 August 2010 15:02 (eleven years ago) link

terry-thomas rules

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 12 August 2010 15:23 (eleven years ago) link

Although he's more proto-Sparks than proto-Maiden.

Duran (Doran), Thursday, 12 August 2010 15:33 (eleven years ago) link

terry-thomas had a pretty substantial part in It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, just for example, so it's not as if he's totally unknown in the US

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 12 August 2010 15:49 (eleven years ago) link

I misread that as It's A Man's, Man's...

Look man... I was just being polite... but thanks for clearing up that up, who knows what would have happened if you'd just left it unmentioned.

Duran (Doran), Thursday, 12 August 2010 15:55 (eleven years ago) link

Good story Doran, and some other great posts. Definitely the best discussion of any poll threads of my making. Hopefully more than like eight people voted this time!

Fastnbulbous, Thursday, 12 August 2010 18:50 (eleven years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 12 August 2010 23:01 (eleven years ago) link

A wholesale rejection of the idea of modern metal then, heh. Well, great discussion anyway.

I think 30 of you are wrong, but hey great vote turnout! Think of it this way, bands with obvious similarities to Sabbath are doom metal and stoner rock. So half the early Sabbath acolytes are basically retro-metal, and the other half aren't even metal. The Sabbath debut started it all for sure, but the majority of modern metal owes 90% more to Judas Priest, Scorpions . . . and Sabotage.

For the record I voted for Sabotage. Judas Priest are certainly key in the development of modern metal, and for years I would have considered Sad Wings as the obvious answer. But both Sabotage and In Trance are closer to Priest than what came before to my ears. Sabotage and In Trance may have been mere giant steps compared to Sad Wings' great leap, but they were first.

Dio may have been metal personified, but he wasn't enough to overrule Blackmore's archaic, decidedly un-metal chooglin' rock 'n' roll on those Rainbow albums. Van Halen came out the same day as Stained Class on Feb 10, 1978. A great day for metal and hard rock. Despite their huge influence on metal, they were nothing more than hard rock 'n' roll.

Fastnbulbous, Friday, 13 August 2010 13:44 (eleven years ago) link

Feb 10 should be a heavy rock/metal holiday. Or it should be metal month, as Sabbath debuted that month too.

Fastnbulbous, Friday, 13 August 2010 13:46 (eleven years ago) link

Fastnbulbous, you should ask your friend Glenn to pinpoint where (British rock magazines maybe?) Sabbath were so lumped, or who was doing the lumping. It makes sense, in a way, since they definitely (as I said before) seemed to be moving away from blues structures toward more Yurropean, maybe classical ones (I think I've heard people compare them to Grieg and Dvořák before, but I'm classically illiterate and I have no idea whether that's baloney.) Also, is Glenn saying the genre name "heavy prog" was actually used at the time, or is that his own formulation? Curious who else would qualify for that genre, from that time, either way....Uriah Heep, I guess? Some King Crimson? Who else?

A belated answer from Glenn -

I'm also too young to have any first-hand knowledge of Black Sabbath being considered heavy prog. But it's something I've heard at least a few people talk about. I don't have much of a library of rock criticism, but there's a half-sentence about it in the foreword of Popoff's '70s metal book. I don't think "heavy prog" was a specific label at the time. There was art/prog rock in the last few years of the '60s, and then Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, King Crimson, and Uriah Heep came along and, from what I've heard, they were thought of, by at least some people, until the better term "heavy metal" became more widespread, as a heavier form of art/prog rock. But I'm not an authority on this.

Fastnbulbous, Monday, 16 August 2010 06:57 (eleven years ago) link

Anyone old enough to remember?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 16 August 2010 16:23 (eleven years ago) link

"As much as I don't like The Kinks, I am vaguely aware of their heritage..."

i don't think i could ever truly understand someone who doesn't like the kinks. or at least a fan of rock who doesn't like them. i could understand an opera fan who doesn't like the kinks. is it a u.k. thing? like brits who don't like queen or the jam? i guess i can understand that kinda thing a little. cuz then someone could be like * i hate the kinks because they remind me of my tory uncle and my sad summer bank holidays as a child to the spa at scarborough and that time that we saw eileen derbyshire from coronation street at seafest and she made fun of my stammer.* or something else suitably parochial and obscure.

scott seward, Monday, 16 August 2010 16:51 (eleven years ago) link

four years pass...

I was watching a re-run of Sam Dunn's Metal Evolution Part 3.

There's a funny scene where Dunn sadly sits in the office of Led Zeppelin's manager where no one will talk to him as the band don't want to be associated with metal.

At 16:20
Sam Dunn: "To what extent did you consider yourselves a heavy metal band?"

Geezer Butler: "We just thought we were a hard rock band at the time. That's what we liked. And the first I heard of being called heavy metal was somebody being derogatory about us. I read this review when we were on tour criticizing us, business as usual, and they said it sounded like heavy metal being dropped, not musically whatsoever."

SD: "Black Sabbath clearly didn't self-identify as a heavy metal band."

Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Jon Lord

SD: "At that time in the early 70's period, did you see yourselves as a heavy metal band?"

Ian Paice: "We just called ourselves a hard rock band."

Jon Lord: "Some people said we had a hand in early heavy metal, and I accept that we could be one of the godfathers. But I defy the parenthood, that wasn't us. We weren't the parents."

Dunn then talks about how Zep, Sabbath and Purple began to shift their sounds. "I always wanted to know why these bands drifted away from their iconic aggressive sound." He's refers to Houses of the Holy, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath where they work with Rick Wakeman.

But dude, what about Sabotage? I really wished he would have asked Ward and Geezer when they DID start to self-identify as a metal band. Might they have said around 1974-5?

The episode ends, of course, with Judas Priest proudly owning it, the first band to self-identify as metal.

Fastnbulbous, Sunday, 8 March 2015 02:33 (seven years ago) link

"Heavy Metal" and "punk" were terms I first saw in early 70s Creem; I never heard any fans using those tags 'til the mid-70s. Of course, from the 60s on, there was "That's heavy," re a serious comment/situation (and Bob Seger's "Heavy Music," but that was out of my neck of the woods, didn't hear it 'til way later).
Never heard of "heavy prog" before this thread, but can recall listening to In The Court of The Crimson King in the same stack of records with early Sabs ("20th Century Schizoid Man" went well with "Iron Man," at the time), Cactus, Bloodrock's D.O.A etc. Emerson Lake & Palmer were heavy live, even Yes (when I was standing in the wings, and heard drums & bass over the rest of that stuff, on '72 tour).

dow, Sunday, 8 March 2015 03:58 (seven years ago) link

The earliest use of "heavy metal" I can recall reading (not really remembering the context in which William Burroughs used it) was a Metal Mike Saunders review, a show review I think, of Humble Pie. Bangs used it for BOC as soon as they showed up.

dow, Sunday, 8 March 2015 04:02 (seven years ago) link

Metal Mike claimed first use of it re music.

dow, Sunday, 8 March 2015 04:03 (seven years ago) link

Oh well o course Steppenwolf's "I like smoke 'n' lightnin'/Heavy Metal Thundah!" and the whole song, via John Kay's guttural Germanic vox, is metal as fuck in retrospect, but at the time, I (literal-minded child) associated it more with bikers, which were still a thing in '68 ("*true* nature's child": word to the flower children), after Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga, and excellent b-movies like Hell's Angels On Wheels, with Easy Rider still to come.
Don't think the song actually mentions music specifically, but prob cited by Metal Mike, Bangs etc. in pitches to editors and/or readers.

dow, Sunday, 8 March 2015 17:26 (seven years ago) link

also Kraftwerk's "Heavy Metal Kids" indicates that by 1971 the term heavy metal was well enough understood for Kraftwerk to parody the genre with their beautiful pastiche/homage


niels, Sunday, 8 March 2015 18:15 (seven years ago) link

'Heavy Metal Kids' is from Nova Express by William S. Burroughs I think?

soref, Sunday, 8 March 2015 18:21 (seven years ago) link

oh, dow mentioned that above

soref, Sunday, 8 March 2015 18:23 (seven years ago) link

Not quite, I couldn't remember his exact term; but in '67, there was an album by Hapsash and His Coloured Coat Featuring the Human Host and The Heavy Kids, which may have been the title too, don't remember (Spooky Tooth-related?) Heard it once, under hayzee weather, but don't think it was what anyone would be likely to describe as metal music; ditto '71 Kraftwerk, but they may well have been reading Creem already (Bangs later took a shine to them, interviewed, think even got Ralf und Florian to pose with the Boy Howdy beer cans)

dow, Sunday, 8 March 2015 18:36 (seven years ago) link

Of course some of what was called glam at the time might also qualify as proto-metal (like Slade, later covered by hair metalists).

dow, Sunday, 8 March 2015 18:40 (seven years ago) link

"The Human Host and The Heavy *Metal* Kids," I meant to say, sorry!

dow, Sunday, 8 March 2015 18:41 (seven years ago) link

Yeah, that Hapshash LP is in Stairway (though it didn't sound particularly metal even to me at the time, to be honest; more like Kraut-rock -- which I didn't know was called Kraut-rock yet when I wrote the book, so I called it "unidentified flying rock" instead.) Was somehow oblivious to Kraftwerk's "Heavy Metal Kids" until now, or at least never made the connection. (And of course there was also the Todd Rundgren song a few years later of the same name, not to mention that sort of glam/pre-punk Brit hard rock band Heavy Metal Kids.)

(Think of, say, the Decibel Hall of Fame -- what the oldest album in that so far?)

I haven't seen it with my own eyes, but somebody told me that Bang's first album was added in a recent issue! (Only the second one from the '70s, I think they said?) And obviously, all sorts of current bands now identified as metal (stoner, doom, occult, whatever) are fully immersed in even the acid rock of the late '60s. Does that mean that opinions about when "modern metal" started have shifted in the past few years?

xhuxk, Wednesday, 11 March 2015 18:18 (seven years ago) link

I don't know anything about metal but where do people place the song "A Trial in Our Native Town" by Savage Rose, 1969, in this continuum?

A big fave (as is "Long Before I was Born" which is a more Airplane-like classic).

Vic Perry, Wednesday, 11 March 2015 18:33 (seven years ago) link


Vic Perry, Wednesday, 11 March 2015 18:37 (seven years ago) link


Think that came out before the first Sabbath album, too?

Ignore my SN for this post

^^^ NOT METAL (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 12 March 2015 05:20 (seven years ago) link

six months pass...

I've been working on a review of Martin Popoff's "Who Invented Heavy Metal Book," and I started digging again to try to nail down when both bands and audiences started to agree on the existence of metal. From articles, it's basically Mike Saunders wishing metal into existence through sheer force of will in his pieces in '72 to '74. A good summary of his way of shoehorning everything he liked into heavy metal in "A Brief Survey Of The State Of Metal Music Today," Phonograph Record, April 1973:

A year later, the outlook has changed drastically. 1972 was not a good year for heavy metal. Dust were the first to bite it, with their infuriatingly uneven and pretentious album Hard Attack. Alice Cooper came next in the washout category, followed by Grand Funk's abandonment of metal for mainstream rock and Black Sabbath's Vol. 4, a disturbingly unpleasant and depressing effort. Topping it all off, Led Zep failed to show, a huge disappointment when their double album was postponed until this February or so. Nitzinger had a good debut album and Uriah Heep had Demons And Wizards, but both wiped out badly with their following releases. New groups have not arisen to replace all these aging stalwarts, mainly because record companies have just not signed many metal groups and don't seem interested in changing this policy.

So the state of metal music today can be summed up in one word: stagnant. Outside of Blue Oyster Cult, The Stooges (whose stunning comeback is more than I'd dared even dream of), and hopefully Led Zep (their LP still not out as I write this), the field is simply in a state of outright decay. Many groups are either well past their peak or in a temporary slump – Grand Funk, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, possibly Alice Cooper, and particularly Black Sabbath, in whose case I really have extreme difficulty imagining any sort of viable future.

...It all seems to point to heavy metal's having been a transitional phase. A possible development might be the amalgamation of metal techniques into the three-minute pop form of the aforementioned current groups – such a trend could be quite incredible, making most of the old metal groups sound like dinosaurs. It's my bet that such a style would come from a new generation of metal rockers, though. None of today's metal groups seem capable of such a switch, with the possible exceptions of Led Zep and Blue Oyster Cult. Anyhow, it's all speculation, and we know where that leads. Into the void.

Read the whole thing at http://www.metal-archives.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=80629

Then in '74 Sandy Pearlman decided to promote Blue Öyster Cult as the embodiment and future of metal. From a Nick Kent article in 2 March 1974 NME:

The band don't talk too much, preferring to allow Pearlman to verbalise on their behalf, if only to outline the collective at work on the B.O.C. heavy-metal vision.

"Hey, I invented the term "Heavy metal' – did you know that? I was the first writer to use it. I was a scientist at college – graduated with tons of awards – and I used the terminology in my articles. I first used the phrase in a Byrds review in '67. That was before the 'Heavy metal thunder' line in 'Born to Be Wild', even."

Here's the first times I found other writers using the term:

9/73 - Keith Altham, NME, 2/74 - Chris Charlesworth, Melody Maker, 3/74 - Nick Kent & Ian McDonald, NME, 4/74 - Wayne Robbins, Creem, 11/74 - Jon Tiven, Circus Raves, 2/75 - Max Bell, NME, 3/75 - Chris Salewicz, NME, 7/75 Ron Ross - Circus, 8/75 - Geoff Barton, Sounds, 12/75 - Jaan Uhelszki, Creem, 9/76 - Pete Makowski, Sounds, 5/77 - Phil Sutcliffe, Sounds

But when did anyone else outside of a couple journalists acknowledge the existence of metal? When did a significant subculture of fans start self-identifying as heavy metal fans, metalheads and headbangers? When did bands other than Judas Priest self-identify as metal? There's like a big gaping hole in metal history that must be lurking about in interviews and photos. From what I can tell in this NWOBHM documentary, there seemed to already be local metal scenes scattered throughout England by at least 1977, possibly 1976? Is there a decent Priest biography I've missed that covers this?


Fastnbulbous, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 13:35 (six years ago) link

Newly disciplined research reveals that metal was actually not invented until Queensrÿche's Rage for Order.

glenn mcdonald, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 13:38 (six years ago) link

The more I listen and read about metal, the more it seems like it took punk to make metal what we think of today. Most people seem to agree that Black Sabbath was the first true metal band, as far as heaviness. However, when I think about "modern" metal, I think about bands like Motorhead and Venom (and other NWOBHM acts) taking cues from punk, regarding intensity, speed, vocal style, and pushing the envelope of what was acceptable to rock-learned ears.

Dominique, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 14:36 (six years ago) link

There's certainly a strong case for metal not really existing until 1979! Judas Priest kind of held the fort all by their lonesome for a few years.

Has anyone read this? There doesn't really seem to be a widely published, well written Priest book.

Judas Priest: The Early Years (1983)

And yeah, along with Motorhead, lots of hard rock influenced metal - Scorpions, AC/DC, UFO, Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, etc.

Fastnbulbous, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 21:57 (six years ago) link

This might be promising:

Neil Daniels - The Story Of Judas Priest - Defenders Of The Faith (2010)

Fastnbulbous, Tuesday, 15 September 2015 22:11 (six years ago) link

The Birth Of Metal

Was heavy metal invented by a single band? Was it dreamed up by a journalist? Was it born on a particular album, perhaps premature and deformed, denied by its parents and returned to live in an orphanage until it was adopted years later by a DJ, a journalist, a bunch of younger bands and some headbangers? ...


Fastnbulbous, Friday, 25 September 2015 12:47 (six years ago) link

six years pass...

This is a really cool thread, like what is the Big Bang of metal or whatever… leaning towards sad wings right now because I’m uhhh listening to an og pressing* right now and:

1) the ripper, cmon, especially the beginning
2) dreamer, deceiver is so… lighters up

*sold the bullshit promo I had that had all these lame radio-friendly edits like omitting the fade in to “victim of changes”

brimstead, Thursday, 23 June 2022 03:21 (one week ago) link

oh also, rob goddam vocals trills holy shit

brimstead, Thursday, 23 June 2022 03:24 (one week ago) link

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