Heavy metal music emerged as a distinct genre in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily in the United Kingdom and the United States. It evolved from a blend of blues rock, hard rock, and psychedelic rock, and is characterized by amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, and heavy use of bass and drums.
One of the earliest and most influential heavy metal bands was Black Sabbath, formed in Birmingham, England in 1968. The band's dark, heavy sound and lyrics about social and political issues set the foundation for the genre. Another key early band was Led Zeppelin, formed in London in 1968, which combined blues and hard rock with elements of folk and world music.
Heavy metal became more popular and diverse in the 1970s, with the rise of bands such as Deep Purple, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden. These bands expanded the musical and thematic range of the genre, incorporating elements of progressive rock and incorporating more complex structures and arrangements.
In the 1980s, heavy metal experienced a commercial peak with the rise of "hair metal" bands such as Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, and Bon Jovi. These bands emphasized theatricality and image, often incorporating elements of pop and glam rock into their sound.
By the 1990s, heavy metal was facing criticism from some quarters for its association with violence, aggression, and anti-social behavior. However, the genre continued to evolve and diversify, with the emergence of sub-genres such as death metal, black metal, and thrash metal. These sub-genres are characterized by their extreme sound, fast tempos, and aggressive lyrics, and are considered by some to be more "pure" forms of heavy metal.
Today, heavy metal remains a vibrant and diverse genre, with a global fanbase and a rich history of innovation and influence. It continues to inspire new generations of musicians and listeners, and has had a profound impact on popular culture and music more broadly.
- "Heavy Metal Music." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web.
- "History of Heavy Metal." Metal Injection. N.p., n.d. Web.
- "The History of Heavy Metal." LiveAbout. N.p., n.d. Web.