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.
|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)