Peter Steele is buried along with his parents in St. Charles cemetery next to an airfield in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York, twenty minutes from where I grew up. Coincidentally, my grandparents are buried near the same plot.

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I first started working on this series about four years ago. It has been through many revisions, rewrites, and re-visitations since then.

But here’s the thing: metal history doesn’t stop!

So let us consider this coverage of more “recent” events (since 2010 or so) as a bonus.

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Well, it was inevitable.

When I first published my Top 50 Metal (and Quasi-Metal) Songs of the 1970s, reaction was pretty strong in a positive way. Readers appreciated the diversity of acts on the list beyond the usual and expected entries from genre heavyweights like Black Sabbath. Album cuts beyond the well-known hit singles were also well-represented, and overall it was just a lot of fun to put together and to read.

Of course, the listening and exploring never stops, and at some point while researching my four-part doom metal history series I realized there is a lot more old-school metal to be found out there still. I became especially interested in heavy music from beyond the Anglosphere, and came to appreciate a few more underground acts that did not get the kind of exposure back then that others did. The quality of those bands’ output is the biggest reason I wanted to expand my top 50 list by another 25 entries.

You’ll still find a number of well-known favorite bands in this expansion, but my hope is that you’ll discover a killer band from the same time period…just buried by time and dust. Enjoy part three!

Part 1, 51-26
Part 2, 25-1

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I visited the ancestral homeland of American death metal for my first vacation of 2015. As my girlfriend and I walked around, enjoying the sunshine, seafood, palm trees, beaches, and excellent craft beer and cigars, one thought was omnipresent in my mind: this is where death metal was born.

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When being asked to choose between rock and roll and sex, Lemmy Kilmister had no trouble calling it as he saw it (I’m paraphrasing): “Well, the average show lasts about two hours, coitus could be half an hour tops…so to me it’s pretty obvious which is better, you know?” Punctuate with long puffs of cigarette smoke and long pulls at a Jack and Coke for greater effect.

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It was a wedding day whirlwind of activity. My friend Joe needed a song for the ride over to the church that would not only de-stress his bride-to-be, but also one that would psych him up for the most important day of his life. He tosses his iPod over to his best man (who is driving), points at him with a no-nonsense expression and says, “‘Back At the Funny Farm.’ Now. Go.”

[Insert joke here about how being married is like being at the funny farm here].

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It was a frigid, gray morning as I drove down a long, empty stretch of the Massachusetts Turnpike. Idle snowflakes fell down around my car as I settled into the home stretch of the drive to Boston. I needed some noise to power me through the last leg.

Looking down at the shotgun seat next to me, I caught sight of Lemmy Kilmister and his two bandmates standing in a desert landscape, bedecked in a combination of black leather and old West cowboy gear. Why not?

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The finest heavy metal record of 1979 opens with the song that many of us Motorheadbangers know as the ultimate live show closer: “Overkill.” A metal classic for the ages, the song “ends” three times, with that screaming, high-bending lead guitar, which is such a key part of its concert appeal. We fans are delightfully attuned to it, some of us having had the pleasure of hearing it for decades.

But imagine what it must have been like to first hear it in 1979: the most popular airplay was all about New Wave, punk rock, and The Wall. Then seemingly out of the black comes this Northern English trio with a wild Snaggletooth for a mascot, with a frontman who’s not quite singing but not quite growling either. Who could have imagined that, like the Snaggletooth charging out of the album cover, that this band would continue on for over 36 years, bulling over everything in its path, and serving as a respected inspiration by every genre from punk rock to death metal to thrash metal to alternative rock?

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