Heavy Metal Power

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The Roots of Heavy Metal Music

Guest Post by Perry Grayson

This Ain’t the Summer of Love

Now for a little FRIENDLY argument for metal’s sake. You know I’m not foaming at the mouth when I write this shit. But it’s something I feel strongly about.

I don’t know where the hell everybody seems to get this idea that I’m so unmetal these days. I’ve always thought the beauty of metal is that there’s a very wide scope of music that falls under its banner. I’m just SO unmental because I dig listening to Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Judas Priest, Witchfinder General, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Quartz, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, Savatage, Death, Cynic, Forbidden, Heavy Load, Sortilege, Mercyful Fate, Fates Warning, Sanctuary, Nevermore (pre 7 string!), Anacrusis, Sacrifice, Control Denied, Pentagram and slews of other bands. I guess those bands aren’t metal. And just because I don’t wear corpsepaint, claim Satan’s my best buddy or have a gazillion tats and piercings I’m definitively not a metalhead. I really dig hashing this out with people. For a good example, though I still love Maiden, I really have to say that I prefer going direct to the source for early dual guitar teams: Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, Bubble Puppy (they changed their name to Demian for legal purposes) or Lynyrd Skynyrd (first TRIPLE axe attack!). Yup, Maiden’s great, but they always wore their influences on their sleeves. Who can blame ’em? It was far better than going the Sex Pistols route! I’m a Maiden fan and will be one till the day I die. Was on the floor for the last Sydney gig. All ’cause I’m just NOT metal anymore. I have more metal on vinyl than most kiddies have CDs or MP3s.

For argument’s sake too… I FULLY agree with the notion that many of the bands I dig are just heavy rockers. Some of them don’t quite stay HEAVY long enough to warrant being called metal. That’s fine by me. Heavy metal came from somewhere. It wasn’t forged overnight. Its birth pangs were heard back in ’66 on American shores through a few tunes by the 13th Floor Elevators–and in England the same year through The Who, Cream, the Yardbirds and the Animals. Crude, but heavier and decidedly more sinister than the Beatles. Hell, the Stones were always far darker than the Liverpudlian lads.

In another year we had Jimi. To this day I still can’t believe the pyrotechnic playing of Hendrix originated in ’67! It’s timeless! Take a look around and see how many kids are flashin’ down the street (“If 6 Was 9” lyrics there!) sportin’ a Jimi shirt in 2009! That he was a black/American Indian crossbreed dude makes it all the more mindblowing. Deep Purple was in its infancy, still doing the odd Neil Diamond cover and hanging to folky roots, but they’d go full-tilt soon enough. ’68 was a magic year. Stateside we got Blue Cheer, loud ‘n’ primal as hell. Three Marshall stacks on each side ain’t chopped liver. In Britan we had Zeppelin and Free and Humble Pie three of the biggest powerhouses known to man–or woman! Free six-stringer Paul Kossoff taught folks that you could say more without wanking out a gazillion notes a second. Poor, tortured Koss! For heaviness in the bass department, look no further than Andy Fraser. How could notes so HEAVY come out of such a small dude? He didn’t need to play on anything after Free, because Andy had already written the book on heavy bass playing between the ages of 16 and 20.

At the tail end of ’69 Sabbath was getting their balls to the wall show on the road, but their S/T record wouldn’t hit the stands till the sublimely sorcerous opening of the Seventies. Ditto for New Yorkers Mountain. With ’em we got Thin Lizzy (Eire!), Trapeze (see “Jury” off their MEDUSA LP for one of the most massive slabs of doom-laden riffage ever to slither their way out of Midland UK slime), Budgie, Freedom, Atomic Rooster, Hard Stuff, Three Man Army and many other ragin’ raw rockers. Americans Captain Beyond (with Brit transplant Rod Evans on vocals), Aerosmith, Granicus, Lincoln Street Exit and Highway Robbery ripped rock a new asshole in the early 1970s.

In Australia we had Head in 1970, who thankfully altered their moniker to the ever-popular B tab of the alphabet–becoming Buffalo. Buffalo, bloody Buffalo! The Oz equivalent of Sabbath. Make no mistake, have no qualms about it, those blokes were the epitome of metal for their first three LPs. Brash volume freaks with lyrics that either stalked the gutter or soared into seas beyond–from “I’m a Skirt Lifter, Not a Shirt Raiser” to “Dune Messiah,” those blokes really had it goin’ on in a major way until they lost axeslinger extraordinaire John Baxter.

What ABOOT them Canadians? Rush and A Foot in Cold Water paved their road, followed by Moxie.

Every once in a while a current act will come along that really impresses me. It happens a lot less now than it used to. I’ll be the first to admit that I think very little honest innovation is happening in metal. I feel technology is making people lazy and sapping the humanity out of music. For all the simplicity digital recording is meant to offer, it sure takes some bands a hell of a long time to get something “in the can.” Has metal lost its spontaneity? Conceived in rough ‘n’ ready fashion, is it being slicked and smoothed to death?

Well, that’s a brief history lesson and a bit of commentary. I could go on for hours, days, months… We’d be sitting here till 2020 if you really get me going. What do I know? I’m just a bitter old cynical fart, you say? Well, trends may come and go, but METAL has survived for four decades now, and it isn’t liable to die anytime soon. So, you can label me a dinosaur. That’s just fine by me! This ain’t the Garden of Eden, and this ain’t Summer of Love, baby!

Perry is a guitarist, singer and songwriter. Check out his hard rocking band Falcon for some pure, raw, heaviness. Falcon is on myspace too. Perry and I also played together in the metal band Destiny’s End.


  1. Hawk

    Nice post Perry. Only if you were talking about the Canadian hard rock band than you spell it ‘Moxy’. How about Max Webster? You like them?

    Cheers Hawk.

    PS Will check out your band’s myspace

  2. Yes, Moxy. Thanks for the correction, Hawk! We need to get a little more hardcore about the editorial side of things, Dan! :P

  3. grip

    perry is a poseur! long live Warrant!

  4. Hawk

    Haha @ Dan. I still don’t know if you like Max Webster Perry.

  5. Hawk!

    Max Webster is not bad at all. Geddy Lee had a guest spot even! I’m more partial to Rush, Moxie and A Foot in Cold Water.

    More hosers, eh? How ’bout Trooper? LOL “Roller Rink” has to be one of the funniest hard rock tunes of all time. I like my share of early April Wine and early Triumph as well. A bit of Pat Travers.

  6. Grip Johnson is the man, by the way! “Give ’em one more for the Gripper!” as Ronnie Reagan once said.

  7. Who the hell said you were unmetal? Don’t think i’ve met many if any who share your knowledge and love for classic metal and rock. Fuck them. Fuck them in their stupid arses.
    Always enjoy your ramblin my friend. RAMBLE ON!

  8. Julian

    Hey Perry that’s a great post, though you just mentioned one of the heaviest acts: The almighty PENTAGRAM. And no mention about Randy Palmer’s dark as fuck BEDEMON.

    And yes, all of those dinosaur bands are sooo unmetal as well as you are. Go listen some Lamb of God, Children of Bodom and Bullet for my Vallentine. Those are TRUE metal! :D:D:D

  9. Moxy, not Moxie. I think there is a conspiracy going on here, godammit!

    I neglected MANY bands there, not just Bedemon. This thing was conceived as a reply to an email, so it’s just kinda cursory. My Bedemon/Pentagram feature ran in three different mags. Has anyone else ever interviewed Randy Palmer? I’m curious. I don’t think so…

  10. theraj662

    You should’ve expanded this a little bit later, then you could’ve included legendary Canadian metal masters Anvil, who laid out the groundwork for speed and thrash in the 80’s with their legendary Metal On Metal and Forged In Fire albums, two of the greatest metal offerings ever!

  11. Thera,

    Anvil may finally be getting some notice thanks to the flick about them, but it’s a little late in the game, isn’t it?!

    I wouldn’t go as far as claiming Anvil did much of anything groundbreaking. They were and are very much a heavy party rock/metal type band. I wouldn’t go anywhere near mentioning them in the same breath as Sabbath, Thin Lizzy or Rush. While Anvil aren’t bad musicians, there’s no way I can say Anvil tunes like “Tag Team Matches” or “The Apartment” rank up there with immortal classics like Lizzy’s “Emerald” or Sabbath’s “Into the Void. As for paving the way for thrash, I’d have to point more towards Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Venom and Motorhead.

    Since my post was just an email copied and pasted on the blog by Dan, it wasn’t meant to be an enormous history of metal. Just a rambling rant.

  12. Here’s pic of me and Dan hangin’ out while on tour in Germany in Aug. ’99.


  13. Frederick Laner

    I don’t think the roots of heavy metal music come from the bands you mentioned. Check this out


  14. Gary

    Yo I liked the thing he wrote about Stargazer its like a term paper


  15. Mike

    Good article. I have a lot of those mentioned. Being a canuck we have very little in the way of great rockers with just a few notable exceptions. May Blitz, Triumph….man I am in my 30’s and I have found so many great bands in the last 5 years thanks to metalheads and youtube. Now if I could buy direct so the artists can get their due.
    I had found Shelob’s Lair from doing some linking on Myspace pages. There are still some good retro rock bands out there. Witchcraft, Gentleman Pistols, Falcon(need to find you album somewhere in Canada!)Great Mammoth, and Troubled Horse.

    It gets pretty blurry as to what is metal and what is rock. It doesn’t matter to me because its about the evolution of it. I might also recommend some early detroit rock. Frijid Pink, MC5, Nugents first band Amboy Dukes, Early Bob Seger.
    Good to know people are still fist pumping and banging heads!

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