Quick summary of part 1, we had 3 bands leading the way, experimenting with the new sounds credited as starting “Heavy Metal”. They were Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and they all started in 1968 – 1970. Lets jump ahead a few years. Fans of the 3 bands are looking for similar sounds since they heard what they liked and want more. Bands are forming to create those sounds because they liked it too. Metal heavy hitters are forming and starting at this time. UFO released their first album in 1970. 1971 Budgie debuts with some of the heaviest music of the timer. The Scorpions debuted in 1972 in Germany, promoting the genre there over the next few years. Blue Oyster Cult debuts in ‘72, Aerosmith in ‘73, Kiss in ‘74. ACDC debuts in 1975 although some don’t consider them metal, their style and sound inspired bands and was a kind of gateway drug to heavy metal. Blackmore, the guitarist for Deep Purple, left the band in 1975 to create another band called Rainbow with Ronnie James Dio as singer. Dio will become a metal legend and another pillar of the Metal community.
Now that is a quick summary of what is going on, but two bands above all the others helped push the sound to what we know of metal in the 80s and 90s. Also we get two of the most legendary names to come in the mid 70s. Also on a side not these bands helped inspire the metal look more than any other in my own opinion.
In 1974 we have the debut album of Judas Priest. Judas Priest had been around in some form since ‘69 but they had a hard time getting members to stay and releasing albums. They released their first album in 1974 with Rob Halford on vocals, Ian Hill on Bass, two guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, and John Hinch on Drums. Priest is often credited as taking all the diverse sounds that inspired metal and making it truly in one place. They are aggressive, they attack the ears, wailing guitars and vocals, long solos and heavy riffs. Priest solidified the inspirations and kept the sound alive until they gained momentum in the late 70s. They are one of the best heavy metal bands of all time but at this time they were not very popular. Their first album kind of stinks. The band had disagreements with the production, they didn’t make the album they wanted. Album flopped and the band shunned it by not playing songs from it live. While the album stunk it was a milestone. Priest had a good underground fanbase with their live shows and after this hiccup in the road they will explode onto the scene in the coming years and coming albums.
1975 we have a new band taking influences from a few other sources. Motorhead comes on to the scene with a fast, heavy, Rock n Roll sound. Led by singer Lemmy Kilmister, Larry Wallis on guitar and Lucas Fox on drums. Lemmy was kicked out of Hawkwind for “doing the wrong drugs” as he said. He wanted to create a new band that was fast and aggressive. He was inspired a lot by the Punk Rock sounds of the mid 70s. The youth was getting rowdy, rejecting the mainstream culture of music. We have bands starting releasing independently and rejecting the old ways and rebelling against the establishment. We also have a lot of emotion in that rebellion. Music is going to start getting angry, start getting faster and more chaotic. Music from independent bands are going to be lower quality than the high cost production of the main music labels, sounding not as good. Metal bands are going to like that and try to incorporate it as well. Motorhead debuts keeping that in mind.
Lemmy in an interview said he never considered his band heavy metal, just Heavier Rock n Roll. After playing only 10 gigs Motorhead opens for Blue Oyster Cult at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1975. His voice has a gravelly sound and the music is chaotic. Band members almost making a storm of music as they try to play over each other creating great music out of chaos. They would not release their first major album until 1977 but they where growing a fanbase touring. The band is loved by the community and Lemmy is a god in the metal Pantheon. With punk music on the rise and rejecting the metal sound, Metal is starting to go underground, going subculture, and that idea of subculture rebellion carries all the way over to to today.
When 1975 hits we have all the ingredients for metal ready in the primordial goo of sound at the time. Lightning struck and those ingredients have bonded. With Judas Priest, and Motorhead and the other bands leading the way in their countries we are going to see a huge explosion of sound in the next few years. These bands are carrying the torch. These bands are helping to start a golden age in the late 70s called NWOBHM or New Wave of British Heavy Metal as niche groups and sounds start to form sharing the same fundamentals of loud, fast, and heavy music.
Again like Pt 1, here is a few songs to listen to and hear for yourself what I am talking about. Better to hear than to read in my opinion about music like this.
Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – 1973 – If you want to see how their sound developed in the last few years good choice is Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Covered by other bands as a classic. Shows off the Heavy Metal riffs by legend Tony Iommi as well. Massive amounts of coke was consumed during this time by the band. Ozzy is a freak a nature.
Led Zeppelin – Over the Hills and Far Away – 1974 – The Zepp continued to experiment with sounds and inspirations after their success. The song may not sound too much like the heavy metal we are used to but the influences are the same.
Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water – 1972 – Blackmore shows off his writing skills in one of the most recognizable heavy guitar riffs of all time. Blackmore left after this album to play on another song on this list under Rainbow.
Alice Cooper – School’s Out – 1972 – While the band has been around since 1964 it hit its stride during this time. Singer Alice Cooper has since become known as the godfather of shock rock. Known for elaborate stage shows including, but not limited to, torture scenes, dueling, ritual sacrifice, and executions. (Look up the Chicken Incident) Coop and Co became legendary for scaring the general public. Heavy Metal and later Metal would continue this tradition of singing about, and performing in ways to horrify and disturb the more conservative minded masses.
Uriah Heep – Easy Livin – 1972 – Considered progressive rock and one of their hits. The song keeps a steady fast pace throughout the whole song and shows off a band who kept the metal torch going through the 70s.
Scorpions – I’m Going Mad – 1972 – 16 year old guitar prodigy Michael Schenker introduces you to this song at the beginning. One of my personal guitar heroes, Scorpions had widespread fame and popularity in Germany and gained even more in the 80s with a little hit called “Rock You Like a Hurricane” you may have heard of.
UFO – Doctor Doctor – 1974 – Dubbed themselves “Space Rock” in earlier albums. With the added guitar prodigy Michael Schenker (now 18) from the Scorpions to album’s lineup they created this early metal hit.
Grand Funk Railroad – We’re an American Band 1973 – One of my dad’s favs when he drove me around in his truck. Hits you right off the bat with guitars and drums. One of the early American Heavy Metal progenitors. Railroad released this classic that I still tap my foot to. Great song to drive to. I. Love. This. Song.
Blue Oyster Cult – the Red and the Black – 1973 – I still have my Dad’s vinyl of Oyster Cult on my wall. Great early metal band. The Red and the Black is a fast paced toe tapper and head banger. If you can’t tell the song is about the Canadian Mounties.
Kiss – Black Diamond and Strutter – 1974 – Personally as a KISS fan it was hard to decide which song to choose so I chose two. KISS not only had some good tunes but they advanced the idea that rock as well as metal is a show. Their stage performances are just as much a part of why they are popular as the songs. Try to watch some videos of them live back in the day. They helped start an entire genre in the 80s, Glam Rock.
Aerosmith – Dream On – 1973 – Holy S**t what a power ballad and right off on their first album too. My neighbor played this band to death on his radio growing up. Dream On is one of the greatest Rock songs of all time and a classic rock radio staple. It starts almost like a Zeppelin song but it’s hard to compare Steven Tyler’s singing to anyone, he is unique to himself.
Rainbow – Man on Silver Mountain – 1975 – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow was created with Ronnie James Dio after Blackmore left Deep Purple. His music as well as Dio’s pushed the theme of storytelling and fantasy settings that was later picked up by other bands in the years to come. Dio’s popularity grew and started down his own road to becoming a legend.
AC DC – Baby Please Don’t Go – 1975 – Before fans start a fight with me about how AC DC isn’t metal let me explain. They are a great band, maybe not heavy metal per se but they toed the line. They were fast and aggressive enough to bring in listeners and send to the metal genre. They definitely helped the genre along at a time when it was still trying to find a sound that was not clearly defined just yet. Heavy Metal’s gateway drug of sorts.
Judas Priest – The Ripper – 1976 – Jumping ahead a bit past their unpopular debut album. Priest Introduces audiences to the tale of Jack the Ripper. Dark themes with dark riffs paired with Rob Halford’s high operatic vocals makes a real distinct sound. Dark stories of evil became a common theme in metal later on.
Motorhead – Motorhead – 1977 – Embodies their influences of fast paced and trashy punk sound of the late 70s. The self titled song was finally released after years of trying to find a good label. Audio sounds like crap but in a good way. They wanted a dirty gritty sound that brings to my mind the image of a crowded dive bar with no air circulation.