History of Heavy Metal in 10 Songs


19. Aug. 2010, 5:29

For fun, I am going to list what I think 10 songs best describe the evolution of heavy metal.

Black Sabbath-Black Sabbath-Black Sabbath (1970)
The first song on the first album, by the first heavy metal band, and its all Black Sabbath. After forty seconds of evil sounding thunder, rain, and bells, that {in)famous three note riff that ever since has defined a genre. Black Sabbath has made some of the creepiest sounding, heaviest, and timeless music in history. Ozzy's puts on one of the emotional vocal performances of his life, and Iomni's guitar tone mixed with the occasional bell makes that simple riff sound like pure gold. This is what started heavy metal, and this is what defines heavy metal.

Hell Bent for Leather-Judas Priest-Killing Machine 1978)
Judas Priest may have earned their spot in metal hearts during their 80's hits British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, and Defenders of Faith and their 90's masterpiece Painkiller, but it is early priest that defined them as one of the most aggressive heavy metal acts of the 70's. Their dual lead attack of Tipton and Downing made Hell Bent for Leather a fierce track.

Black Metal-Venom-Black Metal (1980)
This evil track was incredibly ahead of its time. Opening Venom's sophomore album is this track straight from hell. This album succeeded in influencing several genres including later heavy weights such as thrash and the appropriately named, black metal. This song showed the first real underground movement of metal, as guitars roared faster, drums were beaten brutally, and vocals became harsh and brutal.

Angel of Death-SLAYER-Reign in Blood (1986)
Thrash rose as one of the best sub-genres of heavy metal, and no song, band, or album captured its raw power better than this. Reign in Blood is a 30 minute thrash fest straight from hell. Angel of Death starts off the album beautifully, with Araya's blood curdling scream at the beginning, and his lyrics about the death camp, Auschwitz. This song oozes all things chaotic, and captured the heart of thrash metal.

Dr. Feelgood-Mötley Crue-Dr. Feelgood (1989)
Mötley Crue already had control of the Sunset Strip, and a huge part of the heavy metal scene when Dr. Feelgood came out. However, this slickly produced, sleezy metal album sent them soaring to the top. The title-track shows some of the best glam metal ever made.

Enter Sandman-Metallica-Metallica (1991)
Metallica had spent the 80's conquering the underground metal scene, and were ready for more. 1991's "The Black Album" sent them from thrash legends to household rockstars. Enter Sandman was the song that did it. The song works perfectly. The riff builds, the cleverly dark lyrics kick in, the fitting solo, the prayer by the innocent kid, it all makes this song one of the anthems of heavy metal. Love it or hate it, this song made metal cool, and was Metallica making sure that the world new that they were still relevant, even if metal wasn't anymore.

Walk-Pantera-Vulgar Display of Power
Pantera was one of the few metal bands that were able to find success in the 90's. They made a heavier form of thrash called groove metal. In no other song did Dimebag show his chops better then the chunky "Walk". Phil is also on top of his game, as Pantera released this mid-tempo powerfouse. This album opened the door to other bands such as Machine Head and Lamb of God.

I Saw Them Die-Dismember-Massive Killing Capacity (1995)
I am not going to sit here and say I know anything about death metal. I have never found it very appealing. However, I know it is a huge part of recent heavy metal, so it definately deserves a spot on this list. So, some song by Death, Cannibal Corpse, or Morbid Angel would probably be more appropriate, but I don't think much of any of those bands, so I will put my favorite song off my favorite death metal album in its place. Dismember is by far my favorite death metal song, although short, it releases some sick riffs, and fitting vocals.

Aesthetics of Hate-Machine Head-The Blackening
This song just makes me glad that I am not on Rob Flynn's bad side. This song is a obvious, and dare I say it AWESOME call out to a worthless man (I don't care to remember his name). If you don't know the story, google "Aesthetics of Hate article". However, the lyrics of this song are harsh, relevant, and performed to perfection. This song is the song of a thousand riffs, and they are all presented beautifully. The Blackening showed the return of Machine Head after a wierd break of relevant albums.

Buried Alive-Avenged Sevenfold-Nightmare {2010)
This song is special in many ways. The first album after their multi-talented drummer, The Rev, died was a scorcher. With Metallica throwbacks such as the title track and this ballad show that Avenged Sevenfold knows what their fans want. I thought it to be fitting to put this song because one of the most promising acts in heavy metal finally made an album worthy of what their capable here, and this is the top track. Heavy metal has really stumbled around without an identity for nearly ten years I'd say, (since Dimebag's death) and I have been rooting for Avenged Sevenfold to take the torch ever since Waking the Fallen was released. Although their future is very uncertain at this point, I hope that they can get a permanent drummer and become the true metal gods that I truly believe they have inside them.

So, those are my picks. If anyone ever reads this, and feels compelled to make a comment, I have a few things you could talk about.

1) Don't be afraid to call me out, I know choosing Enter Sandman, Avenged Sevenfold, Dismember for death metal, and the lack of Maiden might piss some of you off, so let me know what you think I should have done differantly.
2) Make your own list, with short descriptions, I would be interested to know.
3) Help me out with death metal. Someone that knows a lot about that particular subgenre please help me out. If you could give me some tips on more easily accessible death metal, that would be appreciated. I have already ruled Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under, I can't stand that singer (forgot his name), but what other death metal albums would you suggest?


  • Phaedrusovchaos

    I'm ok with Sabbath, Veneom & Slayer but c'mon, no Maiden, wrong Metallica, funny choice for the only death metal track, no black metal, no doom (apart from Sabbath)...

    24. Aug. 2010, 11:27
  • JCJen7

    I could never really find a place to put Maiden, I mean, they aren't really on the cutting edge of anything, they just took good solid metal to the next level of awesomeness (and cheesiness). And yeah, I am not a death metal guy, but I happen to quite like Dismember. I also didn't really think Death's Symbolic album was a good choice since its almost thrashy, so I was kinda lost there. And I thought Venom might be enough for black metal.

    25. Aug. 2010, 0:49
  • xSatanaKozelx

    Pretty nice list, man, although I think it's a bit much to try to represent the entire history of Metal in just 10 songs. As for Death Metal, yeah, you might want to pick one of the early American bands. That's not to say that the Swedish scene is of little importance, but still; we kind of got the ball rolling. If you're going for influence on the genre, you might want to choose a band like Possessed. Their Seven Churches album had a major influence on Death Metal. Or, you could always go with my personal favorite, Death. I wouldn't necessarily credit them as being the forefathers of Death Metal, but they definitely had a huge part in defining the sound of the genre. Symbolic was more a part of their Progressive Death Metal era, but you can't go wrong with Scream Bloody Gore. :) The only other problems I have with the list are Pantera and Avenged Sevenfold, but those are just matters of personal taste. Even though I don't care for Pantera's music, there's no denying that they pretty much single-handedly crafted a new subgenre of Metal. Avenged Sevenfold... Well, I kind of shudder to think that they might be the future of Heavy Metal. Personally, I'd like to see a massive "return-to-roots" sort of movement, but whatever. Anyway, like I said, nice list for the most part. Oh, and cheers for the Cannibal Corpse hatred. I can't stand them either.

    27. Aug. 2010, 5:37
  • dudzonthetable

    helter skelter?

    6. Mär. 2011, 23:12
  • Fantria

    motley crue is heavy metal? i guess that song is "heavier" than most of their stuff dont get me wrong...i like'em but well, i guess if you're reaching..... and i dont know any of those bands after pantera.....there isn't much new music today that impresses me

    22. Nov. 2014, 11:43
  • BastianDansk

    You just can't start talking about "Heavy Metal" and put Black Sabbath instead of Iron Butterfly's "In a Gadda Da Vida", Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues", Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze"... Possessed's "Death Metal" is the first Death Metal song. Aggresive thrash metal with raw vocals. "Metal Militia" for Thrash Metal. "Exciter" for Speed Metal. "In Conspiracy for Satan"/"A Fine Day to Day" for 2nd wave Black Metal "Walls of Jericho" for Power Metal and so on and so on...

    23. Feb. 2015, 18:15
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