Metal Appreciation 101: The Beginning

Let’s face it, metal is a pretty big genre and there’s a LOT of history and even more bands. So for someone just discovering a taste for harder edged music – and I’m thinking of several someones in particular here, who will no doubt recognise themselves – it can be a bit daunting. This is the first of what will hopefully be a series of posts highlighting what I think is some essential listening – Metal Appreciation 101. I have no doubt that in the process of putting this guide together, I will discover some holes in my own CD collection which will need to be filled with eBay and Amazon.com purchases. Such is life.

Oh, and if you’re reading this and don’t agree with my choices, tough. But feel free to leave a comment anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey is a fantastic starting point. I saw it at the movies – I think I scored some free tickets from Triple J – and have the DVD and the soundtrack. For the uninitiated, it’s a documentary by Canadian Anthropologist Sam Dunn that seeks to uncover what metal really is and why it’s loved by so many millions of people worldwide. It includes lots of history and Sam created some pretty comprehensive charts of the various sub-genres and how they kinda fit together. I’m gonna use his chart – a version is available on Wikipedia – as a starting point. First up: Early Metal.

In the beginning there was Black Sabbath. Sam Dunn’s chart lists Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, MC5, Mountain, and The Stooges – but let’s face it: Cream, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin conjure up images of 70’s stadium rock. Jimi Hendrix was for the free-love hippies. MC5 and the Stooges were early punk more than metal. Blue Cheer and Mountain are all but lost to history. But Black Sabbath – they were the first real heavy metal band. That was where it started: in the dingy back streets of Birmingham (I’ve been there and let me tell you, it’s not pretty).

The original “classic” Black Sabbath lineup includes Ozzy Osbourne on vocals. Paranoid is the classic song from their second, and probably best-known album, of the same name. I read/heard that this was one of the first music videos ever produced, if not the very first, although Wikipedia doesn’t back me up on that one. So let’s just say it might be.

[YouTube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=SRwwYWlbP2U]
YouTube – Black Sabbath Paranoid

Ozzy looks remarkably young and together, doesn’t he?

Black Sabbath has an interesting history which you can read about on Wikipedia if you’re feeling adventurous. If you’d like the short version, after Ozzy quit the band (after 10 odd years) in 1979, Ronnie James Dio got the job. Ronnie had been fronting Ritchie Blackmore’s (ex Deep Purple) Rainbow, an interesting band in itself – check out Man on a Silver Mountain.

[YouTube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=HFH36je9Hro]
YouTube – Rainbow Man On The Silver Mountain

The so-called “Dio Years” were chronicled in Black Sabbath’s 2007 release (called, funnily enough, “The Dio Years”) and that lineup toured the world under the name Heaven and Hell, the classic album from that era. I saw them in Perth, and had crappy seats (yes, as in sitting down seats) which was a real shame as the extremely awesome Down were playing support and I would have loved to be right down the front for that too (Down will be covered in a future installment, don’t panic).

Black Sabbath with Dio was very different from Black Sabbath with Ozzy, but both are awesome. Ronnie has a very distinctive vocal style – were he not so demonic and utterly, utterly metal, I’m sure he would have been an opera singer, cos he’s a little guy (as you’ll see from the documentary) but he has some enormous lungs. He also basically invented the horns. Neon Knights is representative of the Black Sabbath of that time.

[YouTube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=owN6nUL9ezA]
YouTube – Black Sabbath – Neon Knights (Dio)

After that, Sabbath got weird and went through so many lineup changes that there’s a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to the various band members. I’ll ignore all that and focus instead on what Ozzy and Dio did after they left – because both are noteworthy.

Ozzy had quite a solo career in the 80’s – before he started Ozzfest and became a reality TV icon (and by “he”, I mean Sharon did it in his name, cos he’s a legend but like her or hate her, she’s the marketing brains of that family). Here’s two of my faves, Shot in the Dark and The Ultimate Sin from the album The Ultimate Sin. The 80’s hair and fashion is particularly hot.

[YouTube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=PdMFwzgUXD0]
YouTube – Ozzy Osbourne. Shot in the Dark and Ultimate Sin LIVE

Ronnie James Dio also has a successful solo career – here’s the classic Holy Diver. It DOES NOT GET any more medieval than that. Ride the tiger, baby.

[YouTube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=bkysjcs5vFU]
YouTube – dio – holy diver

But in fact, one of my favourite Dio songs and one that is definitely underrated is Stand Up and Shout. Check it out.

[YouTube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=oxQyuDoFno0]
YouTube – Dio Stand up and Shout live 1986

So that’s it for installment one. Next up will be, I think, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest: Choose your side. Stay tuned. \m/

~ by goatlady on December 31, 2007.

16 Responses to “Metal Appreciation 101: The Beginning”

  1. Omg, thank you ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

    I already know I like Black Sabbath, so that’s a good start!

    No time now, hopefully find some tonight!

  2. You have no idea how good this post is. I’ll expect the follow up soon.. \m/

  3. Thanks Kay, looking forward to the next..no pressure…but hurry up :p
    Not a fan of Ozzy solo, but that would mainly be because of the 80’s hair and fashion, and just the spaced out and puffy him.. lol
    Metal is interesting, and I think I’m already more metal than I thought. This is more rock or hard rock to me. But I do know I don’t like extreme metal. I guess a lot of the sub genres I didn’t see as metal/didn’t know metal was the name for all of this. Anyway, doesn’t matter what it’s called, ha

  4. I love the fact that the Iron Man trailer actually has the song Iron Man in it.

    Have you heard Airbourne? I like to think that they are keeping the metal flame alive.

  5. Hi Lee!

    Yeah, they couldn’t really pick another song for Iron Man though. Because everyone would just have said “why on earth didn’t they just use Iron Man?”.

    I have heard Airbourne – they’re pretty rockin. I read they’re moving to the US – good luck to them.

  6. You should not rely on wikipedia, seeing as how your info is terrible. I won’t bother with the pitiful vh1 style coverage of sabbath. I can point you towards a vast number of music videos pre-dating the sabbath beatclub footage by years. The Beatles ring a bell? Do research next time! People like you are why I hate the net!

  7. “A real music fan” hey? People like YOU I why my finger sometimes hovers over that “Delete Comment” button. Go fuck yourself.

  8. And Black Sabbath had two singers that were also in Deep Purple. One of whom sang on one of Sabbath’s most underrated albums, Born Again. Forget Paranoid, there is much more important Black Sabbath out there!

  9. Typical Blogger, can’t take criticism. Don’t be mad at me because you don’t bother to check things out ahead of time.

  10. I quite clearly said that I wasn’t sure on that point. You’re a typical commenter – RUDE.

  11. I am a huge fan of Ozzy and Black Sabbath (well, the Ozzy years anyway, don’t really give a fig for Dio).

    This isn’t a quibble so much as an effort to engage in conversation… personally I always though of Sweet Leaf as the seminal Metal track from Black Sabbath… and the real launch of Metal came with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in their 1973 album of the same title. The way the guitar growls in the later parts of the song just gets into your guts and makes your head spin. The interesting thing to me is that even as late as their 5th album, Black Sabbath was still essentially a blues band. I point to Sabbra Cadabra as evidence. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Anyway… that was probably OT for the direction you wanted to take this post. Sorry.

    One quick question for another commenter: What kind of hubris does it take to pronounce oneself a “real” anything? I get that in order to do it you have to look down on the “fake” ones, so how do you differentiate real from fake? I ask because I’d like to start promoting myself as a “real human being” and I’d like input from an obvously “fake human being” so I can determine the best way to promote the differences.

  12. You know, I was kind of expecting that if you were gonna have a metal appreciation for new people, you’d research more then just Black Sabbath. So Black Sabbath are the only early metal band you should care about, huh? And then you move on to Dio, completely overlooking the entire NWOBHM and Motรถrhead. And ignore Ozzy’s solo career but for two tracks off “The Ultimate Sin”, in 1986. I gotta say, this is pretty unimpressive.

  13. this was a waste of time and i gladly wish you catch on fire on the way to the restroom.

  14. Sam Dunn listed Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, MC5, Mountain, and The Stooges because they were the first to create music that is enjoyed in the same way as metal. Metal, being born from the blended influence of blues rock and psychedelic rock, is a genre that embraces pure, raw energy. Maybe that’s why metal is both the best genre for concerts and, incidentally, blowing out speakers.

  15. In english class! We had to write a report about what we love… Thanks to you guys I got more info about metal music ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks.

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