Archives For early metal

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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Ah, I remember when this came out,” my dad observed when this live document arrived in the mail. “When Deep Purple played in Japan, that was unheard of for the time…they were huge.”

Recorded over 3 nights in August 1972 in Osaka and Tokyo, “Made In Japan” is sometimes considered to be metal’s first great live offering, even before Japan hosted Judas Priest for “Unleashed In The East.” It was Deep Purple’s most beloved lineup at the height of its live prowess, raw and distorted but also with a degree of technicality and precision that continues to inspire live acts today.

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Blood Lust (2012)

Of all the bands I saw at MDF 2014, this was the one that was the biggest surprise, in a good way. While other acts tried their damnedest to bludgeon you to death with heaviness and speed, here was Uncle Acid, whose music is the music of grainy horror movies, foggy graveyards, and dark, smoky pubs.

Their restrained, loose, medium approach to doom metal was a distinct break fro the rest of the festival, the kind of band our parents would have gone to see. And it wasn’t just because they use vintage equipment.

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Metal is often content–hell, it prefers to remain a mostly-underground music form, but every once in a while it plunges its grotesque, magnificent self into the unprepared spotlight to claim the world’s attention, to grab it by the throat, lift it bodily off the ground, and say, “You WILL listen.” Black Sabbath’s first studio album with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978 is one of those moments.

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From the Japanese audience’s eager singalong on the very first song on this album (“Fall to your knees and repent if you please!”), it’s clear that this early incarnation of legendary metal group Judas Priest knew how to work a crowd. The band appears onstage at Kaseinenkin Hall on the cover in full black leather and studs regalia, surrounded by bright lights and billowing smoke. Upon release, the album established Priest as one of the metal’s live heavyweights and also comes in handy as an unofficial “best of” 1970s Judas Priest–containing most of their early hit songs.

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A sallow, sunken face with pitch-black eyes stares out from underneath the hood of a black robe. A grainy, Halloween landscape surrounds the figure: the ominous gray farmhouse in the distance, the gnarled and dying woods streaked with deep red, the white-gray dread of the blanket of clouds. It’s a truly eerie picture that seems more appropriate for a horror movie poster than an album cover.

But record buyers who were not repulsed by this cover but rather were drawn to it would discover the original heavy metal blueprint. Although there are only 5 songs on the record, each one had a hand in establishing Black Sabbath’s cult following, especially in the English Midlands.

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These are the great standard-bearers of old, the height against which all the others are measured. If you’ve had any exposure whatsoever to the genre of heavy metal, there’s a pretty good chance it’s one of these. The reason is the considerable overlap between heavy metal and classic rock, as you’re likely to hear any of the below acts on a classic rock station. In fact, the influence of the early bands is so profound that I find it necessary to split them into two separate sections: first, the United Kingdom, represented here, then the United States.

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Previously on this metal history, we saw the UK edition of early influences upon heavy metal, which hit its stride in the late 1960s and culminated in the arrival of Black Sabbath.

But across the pond in America, the birthplace of the blues, a new group of bands would craft their own spin on this dark new music that was slowly emerging. Although the free love and hippie movement remained strong in the USA, not every psychedelic band was singing along with “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

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