It is widely claimed that heavy metal took its name from the novel 'The Soft Machine' by the American counter-culture author William S. Burroughs. The usage of the term by Burroughs hardly had any connection with music, but the idiom was grabbed by the rock songwriters and used in the early 70s to describe the sound of some guitar-driven rock bands.
The roots of heavy metal lie in the early 70s progressive rock music of the bands like 'Black Sabbath', 'Deep Purple', 'Led Zeppelin', and others. In fact, 'Black Sabbath' was the rock group that inspired most early metal bands. They completely changed the conventional electric blues traditions that prevailed in the music of most hard rock bands of that period. Hated by the critics, public opinion and religious organizations, 'Black Sabbath' had a devoted audience of young ardent fans, some of whom were to become renowned heavy metal musicians.
'Black Sabbath' was formed in
Throughout the following two decades, the band survived through constant changes in the line-up maintaining the classic old-school 'Black Sabbath' sound. The band's shows were often accompanied by stage violence, which led to the group being banned in several states, only to increase its popularity. The themes of sorcery and black magic of the band's songs showed a direction for many heavy metal poets.
The first heavy metal bands, such as 'Accept', 'Dio', 'Iron Maiden', 'Manowar' and 'Metallica' originated in the early 80s. Many of them are already classics, some are still making music and releasing successful albums. The early 80s were the period of classic metal notable for classical music influence and anthemic choruses and characterized by the bands like 'Accept' and 'Iron Maiden'.
During the 80s period new subgenres went emerging, including black metal, death metal, thrash metal, and others. Many bands embarked on a heavier sound and even further increase in tempo. Among the experimenters was the
Since the release of their debut album 'Kill 'Em All' in 1983, 'Metallica' were head and shoulders above all pretenders to the throne of thrash metal selling more than 200 million albums. Their album 'Metallica' released in 1991 became the best-selling metal album having sold over 8 million copies in the
James Hetfield, Kirk Hammet, Lars Ulrich and the late Cliff Burton replaced in 1986 by Jason Newsted created their own sound, much heavier and faster than classic metal, but distinguished themselves from other thrash metal bands, such as 'Anthrax' and 'Slayer', by including slower introspective songs into their repertoire. In 2003
Today heavy metal music has become less popular with the advent of the so-called 'nu metal', a mixture of heavy guitar riffs and hip-hop beats best represented by the bands like 'Limp Bizkit' or 'Rage Against The Machine'. Newer heavy metal bands like 'System Of A Down', however, demonstrate that a lot remains to be said within the genre.