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Since the birth of heavy metal in the late sixties, it has never earned the respect and

recognition that it deserves. Many critics dismiss it as pointless noise that is lacking talent.
The same has been said about previous genres including jazz, ragtime music, and even
classical in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Heavy metal may never receive the credit that
pop, rock, and country have earned.
The origins of metal have been traced back to classical music. Composers like Vivaldi,
Mussorsky, Bach, Chopin, and Paganini were the first to incorporate fast and intricate
intervals with a very deep low end to the sound. Tchaikovsky was famous for incorporating a
double sized bass cello that was played by two people. This created a sound that would rattle
the windows of the opera houses. Though he died in 1893 from cholera, a disease caused by
drinking contaminated water, Tchaikovsky left his mark on music history.
Later, in the early 20th century, blues and jazz emerged from New Orleans and other areas
populated by African Americans. The struggle that they endured showed in their music, and
the feeling and tension in the music was undeniable. Robert Johnson from Mississippi was
probably the most
influential bluesman. The mysticism surrounding Johnson was fueled by his poorly
documented life. This would later influence metal bands to be less documented. There are
only two known photographs of Robert Johnson, even though he was born in 1911 and
murdered at age 27. According to a legend known to modern Blues fans, Robert Johnson was
a young black man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi. Branded with a burning desire
to become a great blues musician, he was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near
Dockery's plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the devil) who took
the guitar from Johnson, tuned the guitar so that he could play anything that he wanted, and
handed it back to him in return for his soul. Within less than a year's time, in exchange for his
everlasting soul, Robert Johnson became the king of the Delta blues singers, able to play, sing,
and create the greatest blues anyone had ever heard.
Later, in the industrial town of Birmingham, England, a young band was forming. This band
was the legendary Black Sabbath (then called Earth). Fronted by the bipolar factory worker
John Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath was the first band to combine the evil imagery of the
occult, with the blues. Guitarist Tony Iommi is famous for losing his fingertips in a factory
accident. In an industrial accident at the age of 17 on his last day of work in a sheet metal
factory, he lost the tips of the middle and ring finger of his right hand. Iommi considered
abandoning music, but his boss (who knew of Iommi's "night job" as a pub band guitar player)
encouraged him to reconsider by playing a record by jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who
earned wide acclaim despite limited use of his fretting hand.
After attempting to learn to play right-handed, Iommi strung his guitars with extra-light
strings (using banjo strings, which were a lighter gauge than even the lightest guitar-strings of
the time) and wore plastic covers over the two damaged fingers. He fashioned the latter
himself, by melting washing-up liquid bottles into a ball and then using a soldering iron to
make holes into this ball, putting his fingers in while the plastic was still soft enough to be
shaped. He then trimmed and sanded away the excess plastic to leave himself with two
thimbles, which he then covered with leather, to provide better grip on the strings.
Subsequent tips have been custom-made. (

Another important event in the forming of the first heavy metal band is the writing of
the song Black Sabbath which caused them to change their name to Black Sabbath. In 1969,
bassist Geezer Butler found a book that was written in Latin. Inside the book were many
pictures of Satan. That night as he slept beside the book, he awoke for no apparent reason. He
peered towards the foot of his bed to see a dark figure with no shape. Frightened to death he
fell back asleep. Butler claims that it was certainly not a dream, but this is debatable. He told
Ozzy about the experience, and Ozzy wrote the lyrics to the song Black Sabbath, the first
metal song ever. The lyrics are as follows:
What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me
Turn around quick, and start to run
Find out I'm the chosen one
Oh no
Big black shape with eyes of fire
Telling people their desire
Satan's sitting there, he's smiling
Watches those flames get higher and higher
Oh no, no, please God help me
Is it the end, my friend?
Satan's coming 'round the bend
people running 'cause they're scared
The people better go and beware
No, no, please, no
Bands like Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath thrived throughout the
70s. Then the 80s came. The new wave of British heavy metal arrived around 1980. These
bands were classically influenced bands such as Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Saxon, Diamond
Head, and the grittier punk influenced band Venom. By 1983 thrash metal had exploded in
the San Francisco Bay Area. Thrash metal is a mix of hardcore punk, and British metal. It is
fast, dirty, and menacing. The Big Four thrash bands (as they are sometimes called), released
their debut albums in 1983: Metallicas Kill em All, Slayers Show No Mercy, and
Anthraxs Fistful of Metal. Megadeth wouldnt release their first album until 1985.
These bands would influence countless bands to come.
At the same time the First Wave of Black Metal was beginning. Though a small genre, it is one
of the most important sub-genres of metal. Black metal consists of low quality production,
satanic imagery, and shrieked, raspy vocals. The first bands do play this style were Swedens
Bathory, Englands Venom, Switzerlands Hellhammer, and Denmarks Mercyful Fate.
Mercyful Fate were unique because of vocalist King Diamonds talented falsetto, operatic
Formed in 1979, Venom are famous for coining the term black metal and being the first to
use pseudonyms. Singer Conrad Lant was Cronos, drummer Tony Bray became Abaddon,

guitarist Jeff Dunn became Mantas (all names for different demons.) Slammed by critics for
their lack of musicianship and cheesy satanic lyrics, Venom were determined to do something
different, no matter what the critics said about them. Their first three album, Welcome to
Hell, Black Metal, and At War with Satan, are considered landmarks in the metal genre.
Meanwhile in Sweden, a band that didnt take themselves too seriously were practicing away
in their cold garage. Little did they know,
they would soon be hailed as the most important metal band of all time by some fans. This
band would soon call their band Bathory, named after the 16th century Elizabeth Bathory who
was a famous Hungarian serial killer. In late 1983, a record label contacted guitarist and
vocalist Quorthon (Thomas Forsberg) to record two songs for a compilation album entitled
Scandinavian Metal Attack The tracks gained unexpected praise from fans. In 1984, they
recorded their self titled first album. Arguably the first real recording of black metal, this
album is infamous for its lo-fi production and intense screamed vocals. Nothing like this had
ever been heard before.