The History Of Heavy Metal

The Heaviest Decade continues… Part 3

AC/DC might’ve been considered Hard Rock or at best proto-metal but on February 19th, 1980 Bon Scott croaked and like the loss of Tony Iommi’s fingertips, something very metal happened. His death, caused by “misadventure”, which means he drank himself to death. Talk about the life of the party. Within the same year in 1980, AC/DC released Back in Black, their heaviest, darkest and best selling album. We aren’t even talking metal, in all music genres, it is one of the highest selling albums of all time. It took tragedy and metal to create a masterpiece that changed the direction of the band from stars to superstars. Back in Black became an album that converted people like themselves, to metal, a stepping stone from hard to heavy.

In 1980 Ozzy Osbourne released “Suicide Solution” from Blizzard of Ozz”, It was a tribute to the life and death of Bon Scott by alcohol abuse. In 1986, and time and time again, metal was under attack. Ozzy Osbourne was sued for his controversial lyrics which “promoted” suicide, apparently someone’s son listened to the song then killed himself. They never proved any wrongdoing by Ozzy in court. Suicide is obviously a shitty situation but I know the song very well and I’ve been listening to Ozzy my whole life, trust me,  he doesn’t want anyone to kill themselves. He wants them to get drunk and be merry , not just on Christmas either.

Ozzy Osbourne is easily the most famous and most successful metal musician of all time. He was the frontman of the English powerhouse Black Sabbath and also the frontman of the American Ozzy Osbourne. He ruled over both sides of the oceans and through pretty much every progressive change in metal for decades. Ozzy is the reason the world has known some of the best guitarists of all time. Aside from the obvious Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, famously known for Black Label Society has proven to be possibly the best living guitar player. He writes albums as easy as most wipe their ass. His live performance is perfection and chaos all at once, if Lemmy played the guitar he’d transform into Zakk Wylde, they both share the same attitude, clothing style and absolute devotion to metal. With the departure of Jake E. Lee in 1987, Wylde held down the lead guitar position for Ozzy Osbourne proudly until 1995 returning again in 2001 and finally leaving for good in 2009. He was replaced by a guy named Konstantinos Karamitroudis  (unlike me he knows more than a few power chords).  Being scared of his ethnic name, he goes by Gus G. He formed “Firewind”, a Greek power metal band in 1998 and by 2009 he received an email from Ozzy’s management to try out, the rest is history.

Ronnie James Dio had been part of the monster that is Black Sabbath but before his departure he left his mark.  Metalheads were tired of their bleak realities, they wanted an alternate reality to escape to (perfect match with “Dungeons and Dragons” which was also a new thing). With two amazing Black Sabbath albums he introduced us to a taste of the “fantasy” aspect of metal. Basically it was The Lord of The Rings meets metal. (Coincidently Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and JRR Tolkien are all children of Birmingham, England.) After leaving Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio started Dio, the epitome of classic heavy metal in 1983 with the album Holy Diver. Even more than with Sabbath, the lyrics dove into the medieval/fantasy aspect. Dio showed us the early fantasy aspects with his 2 previous Sabbath albums giving us corroboration as the “inventor” but by the time Dio released Holy Diver, Manowar had done the same with Battle Hymns in 1982. Till this day Manowar remains the most loyal power metal band, loyal to the genre that is. Their songs pledge allegiance to metal with songs like “Die for Metal” or “Warriors of the World”. Blind Guardian hit the scene with the first album Battalions of Fear in 1988 but it sounded more like thrash. It wasn’t until Follow the Blind (89) and Tales from The Twilight World (90) that the “Lord of the Rings” themed power metal came to life and became the world’s foremost fantasy power metal band. Blind Guardian has been active since 1984 so if you enjoy the writing of Tolkien and heavy metal then you’re in luck. You have a couple decades worth of music waiting. 

Most, if not all real metalheads associate the “Metal Horns” hand gesture with Dio since it started as early as his time with Sabbath in the late 1970’s. Although Dio didn’t invent the metal horns hand gesture, he made it popular during his time with Sabbath, it was his answer to Ozzy’s hand gesture which was ironically a peace sign. Dio was kind of a short dude but his voice was taller than Scottie Pippen, even during the last few tours of his life he sang like he was still 30 years old, a true vocal magician. Dio released 10 great albums before being taken out by stomach cancer in 2010, long live rock n roll!


Black Metal

From the outside, most people think of metal as being satanic or evil. You can’t really blame them because some of the imagery and lyrics were surrounded around something of that nature. The problem was it wasn’t true. Talking about evil and being evil are two different things. For example, in the beginning Black Sabbath was accused of being satanic and anti-christian meanwhile songs like After Forever sounded more like a church sermon.


“Could it be you’re afraid of what your friends might say when you believe in god above, they should realize before they criticize that god is the only way to love.”

Black Sabbath

Black metal didn’t get as much as a second glance (or listen) when it arrived. It was considered by most to be “bad” power/thrash metal. For the most part, metal had as much to do with evil as any other genre of music out there, now black metal was a different story. Black metal (a.k.a. Satanic metal) actually was kind of evil and it scared a lot of people. It came in two waves, the latter being MUCH more “evil” (1990’s) and anti-christian ,it wasn’t an act. The first wave started in 1981 with bands like Venom, Bathory, Mercyful fate, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. The music had a very fast tempo, shrieking vocals, heavily distorted guitars, double bass blast beats and corpse paint along with pseudonyms. At first it was just crappier sounding thrash with brutal or even satanic lyrics. It eventually became more extreme as time went on. Even the recording quality was fucked with, they purposely would record in low fidelity to give the music a shitty distorted sound.

Death Metal

Similar to Black metal, Death metal utilizes most of the same techniques but with enough differences to make it stand out like more palm muting, drop tuning, less cymbal work while employing signature/time changes and growling vocals rather than shrieking. While Black metal lyrically focused on Satanism and all other evil themes, Death metal focused more on brutality and gore(as well as lucifer too) similar to horror movies from the 80’s. It’s said the band “Death” formed and fronted by Chuck Schuldiner (Godfather of Death) on guitar/vocals was the first recognized Death metal band. Funny thing is I see more elements of thrash in early “Death” albums but then again that’s just my opinion. Death was closely followed by bands like Obituary, Autopsy and Morbid Angel. Death metal came during the mid-80’s and by the 1990’s the market was saturated with all these bands. Cannibal Corpse from Buffalo, New York dropped their first album in 1990 and the Genres continued to branch off.

The most dangerous band to ever walk the earth, Guns n fucken Roses. The argument on whether GNR is hard rock or heavy metal is moot. I’m calling it metal and that’s that. Their music may be rooted in hard rock but the metal elements are apparent in almost every song. Some people even argue that GNR might be glam metal but that’s false as well. In the early days they may have physically resembled glam fashion but GNR wore leather not spandex (Pantera along with Diamond Darrell(Dimebag) did the same thing). GNR’s influences were just as much punk as hard rock but their lyrics were abrasive and much more rude to be as catchy as glam bands. They played way way heavier and faster songs than any of their look-alikes. Their lead guitar work was way more attentive to the song sounding good and not just the guitar player showing off. Slash was tasty, he wrote a solo because it made the song sound better not just because it made people think he was a good guitar player. Until this day Slash remains one of the best guitar players on earth. He is one of the biggest reasons people pick up a guitar. Slash is the Scarface of guitar players, he could basically take a barrage of bullets and still rip a solo without a mistake. Along with Eddie Van Halen he’s one of the very few to have worked with Michael Jackson, probably the most famous musician of all time. Van Halen wrote the solo for “Beat it” and Slash played guitar for Jackson during many live performances of “Black or White”. 

Glenn Danzig has been on a lifelong quest that would ultimately lead him to metal. The year was 1977 and Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only, Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein and Manny Martinez formed the hardcore punk band The Misfits in Lodi, New Jersey. Although their music was obviously punk you could see the metal that slowly began to ooze from Danzig’s sweat pores. After a few monumental punk albums that influenced many metal peers, the Misfits disbanded in 1983.  Danzig immediately formed Samhain. Sounding like horror themed punk metal infusion, Samhain became the bridge from punk to metal for Glenn Danzig. The albums had experimented with a few types of music but all those roads led to metal and by the last album the music was officially considered heavy metal. Samhain had been reborn and the new and metal improved Danzig was alive and kicking. Aptly named Danzig, after lead singer Glenn Danzig. In 1988 Danzig released their first album named…… Danzig, the blackest of the black had begun his metal pillage. Danzig’s most popular song Mother is loved by all. Odds are if you haven’t heard it you probably haven’t drank a beer, played hooky or lit a fart on fire either you square. It’s also safe to say that Glenn Danzig has you on his shitlist and will eventually find you and punch you in the face (you deserve it).



Written by Konstantine

Beyond the void but deep within me a swamp of filth exists, a lake it was of crystal beauty but Arda's spring went by.....

The History of Heavy Metal