Classic Metal Class – Episode 1


This video is an excellent meditation on classic heavy metal and it is well worth your time.

Like any serious course of study, it comes with significant homework: namely, this truly excellent discography, compiled by Gregory B. Sadler, Ph.D:

Black Sabbath
• Black Sabbath (1970)
• Paranoid (1970)
• Master of Reality (1971)
• Vol. 4 (1972)
• Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

Deep Purple
• Deep Purple in Rock (1970)
• Fireball (1971)
• Machine Head (1972)
• Who Do We Think We Are (1973)
• Burn (1974)
• Stormbringer (1974)

Led Zeppelin
• Led Zeppelin II (1969)
• Led Zeppelin III (1970)
• Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
• Houses of the Holy (1973)

• UFO 1 (1970)
• UFO 2: Flying (1971)
• Phenomenon (1974)

Uriah Heep
• Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble (1970)
• Salisbury (1971)
• Look at Yourself (1971)
• Demons and Wizards (1972)
• The Magician’s Birthday (1972)
• Sweet Freedom (1973)
• Wonderworld (1974)

• Budgie (1971)
• Squawk (1972)
• Never Turn Your Back on a Friend (1973)
• In for the Kill! (1974)

Judas Priest
• Rocka Rolla (1974)

• Lonesome Crow (1972)
• Fly to the Rainbow (1974)

Flower Travellin Band
• Satori (1971)
• Made in Japan (1972)
• Make Up (1973)

Sir Lord Baltimore
• Kingdom Come (1970)
• Sir Lord Baltimore (1971)

• Bang (1972)
• Mother/Bow to the King (1972)
• Music (1973)

Alice Cooper
• School’s Out (1972)
• Billion Dollar Babies (1973)
• Muscle of Love (1973)

Blue Oyster Cult
• Blue Öyster Cult (1972)
• Tyranny and Mutation (1973)
• Secret Treaties (1974)

• Granicus (1973)

• Montrose (1973)
• Paper Money (1974)

Amboy Dukes (with Ted Nugent)
• Call of the Wild (recorded 1973)
• Tooth, Fang, and Claw (1974)

• Aerosmith (1973)
• Get Your Wings (1974)

• KISS (1974)

• Rush (1974)

• First Daze Here (2001 release of 70s material)

Now, go do your homework! (Thus spake Progarchy.)

After you watch the above video, here’s a summary of the first lesson (also compiled by Gregory B. Sadler, Ph.D):

1970 – A Seminal Year For Heavy Metal

February 1970
Black Sabbath release Black Sabbath

June 1970
Deep Purple release Deep Purple In Rock
Uriah Heep release Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble

September 1970
Black Sabbath release Paranoid

October 1970
Led Zeppelin release Led Zeppelin III
UFO release UFO 1

September 1970
Sir Lord Baltimore release Kingdom Come

Other important developments and processes:

  • Jimi Hendrix dies, and Jimi Hendrix experience dissolves.
  • Budgie, Iron Claw, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Blue Oyster Cult, Flower Travellin’ Band, Scorpions, Alice Cooper, Amboy Dukes are all playing and producing music, some of which is heavy metal.
  • Aerosmith, Necromandus, and Bang formed.

If you want to write a midterm exam, Progarchy invites you to reflect and then answer these two difficult questions:

  1. What is the definition of heavy metal?
  2. Where is the origin of heavy metal to be found?

On the latter question, Progarchy recommends that you also read the excellent essay over at Angry Metal Guy about the first Black Sabbath album, which begins thus:

Black Sabbath‘s eponymous 1970 debut might well be the ultimate Yer Metal is Olde entry. Besides being unquestionably metal, it’s also as Olde as Yer Metal can possibly get. Because, despite what a small minority of Coven and/or Blue Cheer fans might say, the release of Black Sabbath marks the birth of heavy metal itself as both a sound and a fully-formed aesthetic. (Some argue High Tide‘s 1969 debut, Sea Shanties is the actual birth of metal, and there is a wicked guitar tone on that album.) Infamously recorded in a single day, the album is more or less a live performance by a young band that was just starting to discover its own power.

If you doubt this album’s influence, just take a listen to the opening title track. That initial three-note riff — you’re hearing it in your head right now — informed everything that would follow, from Judas Priest to Metallica to the entire “doom” subgenre. Vocalist John “Ozzy” Osbourne then enters with an anguished vocal counterpoint, which completely separates this track from any blues or jazz that preceded it. The faster section of this song could be considered a precursor to NWoBHM and eventually thrash metal, although Sabbath would pioneer that more thoroughly with songs like “Symptom Of The Universe” later on. I don’t even need to mention that the song literally mentions Satan by name, decades before black metal bands were casually name-checking the big red guy.

The rest of the album, while not quite as terrifying, is still a fascinating listen. …

And here’s a link to the book discussed in the video above that approaches the subject with academic rigor:

Rock on, children of the grave!


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