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Originating Location: United States, United Kingdom

Originating Era: late 1960s

Genre Description[]

Stratovarius, one of the pioneers of Power Metal and Neoclassical Metal.

Heavy metal, usually abbreviated to metal, is a loosely based genre generally characterized by its distorted electric guitar work, loudness, shock value, and experimentation with vocals. The origin of heavy metal music is unclear, but it most likely started in 1966 when Jimi Hendrix took influence from bluesy and psychedelic guitar work and incorporated them in his sound. Unfortunately, his band Jimi Hendrix Experience, only survived until 1969, because Jimi died from an intense overuse of drugs that year. Though he's deceased, his legacy lived on. That same year a "triple band explosion" of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin followed Hendrix which further influenced the genre. Bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Cream, Def Leppard, Faster Pussycat, Foghat, Kansas, Kiss, Night Ranger, Quiet Riot, Scorpions, Ted Nugent, Van Halen, Warrant, and Z.Z. Top were inspirations for the first major heavy metal bands.

Tarja Turunen is often referred as the Queen or Goddess of Metal

The most important metal band was Black Sabbath, who is known for popularizing heavy metal. Later on, an important event in heavy metal happened, called New Wave of British Heavy Metal, usually shortened to NWOBHM. A very important NWOBHM band called Venom is considered the first speed and black metal band, heavily inspiring the speed metal and black metal genres. Other genres of metal that sprung up from NWOBHM are power metal and thrash metal, both inspired by speed metal, with the bands like Helloween. Black Metal is generally characterized by chaotic drum beats, growling vocals, use of pentagrams and corpse paint, and meanings usually religion-based (Christianity, Paganism, and Christian-blasphemy are the most common). Notable black metal bands include Antestor, Bathory, Behemoth, Burzum, Emperor, Enslaved, Mayhem, Venom, Moonsorrow, Satyricon, Xasthur, and the musical projects of the musicians Gaahl and King of Hell (Gaahlskaag, Godseed, Gorgoroth, and Trelldom). Thrash metal is generally characterized by aggressive vocals and fast instrumentations. The most famous and influential thrash bands of all time were Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, but other Important bands include Annihilator, Anthrax, Exodus, and Testament. Thrash metal inspired the genre groove metal, which had the same vocal style and aggressive and fast instrumentation, but with more influence on the groove, with important bands being Sepulture and Pantera. From groove metal came a genre called death metal. Early on, death metal was rather similar to thrash and groove metal, but later on it became a mush more distinct genre, with even more aggressive vocals and heavily distorted guitars. Meanwhile, power metal was developing as well. Power metal started using fantasy themes in the lyrics, with orchestral instrumentations. Some power metal bands include Dragonforce, Stratovarious, Blind Guardian, Enchant, Gamma Ray, Helloween, Krusader, Queensryche, and Rhapsody of Fire. Another genre of heavy metal s doom metal, inspired by traditional heavy metal, characterized by deep, guttural vocals and slow, brooding tempos. The first true doom metal band was probably Pentagram in the mid 70s, but other notable bands that followed him included Candlemass, Electric Magma, Electric Sun, Electric Wizard, Goatsnake, Reverend Bizarre, Saint Vitus, and Witchfinder General.

Important People in Heavy Metal

  • Dave Mustaine
  • Bruce Dickinson
  • John Petrucci
  • Kai Hansen
  • Michael Kiske
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Rob Halford
  • Ronnie James Dio
  • Tuomas Holopainen
  • Yngwie Malmsteen
  • Chuck Schuldiner
  • Cliff Burton
  • Mikael Akerfeldt
  • Mike Portnoy
  • Alexi Laiho
  • Tony Iommi
  • Geezer Butler

Labels in this genre[]

Further Reading[]