The Roots of Pre-Black Sabbath Heavy Metal in 10 Albums
Heavy metal wasn’t born, fully formed and ready to sin, with Black Sabbath in 1970. Before our favorite forefathers could formulate a revolutionary and distinctive sound, the Birmingham street urchins had to ingest, digest, and regurgitate a throng of musical ingredients, each of them in just the right dose, in order to render the final recipe. Black Sabbath were originals, but, like every other visionary artist, they had their influences too.
Indeed, this list's first draft included several proto-metal staples, such as Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, the Vanilla Fudge, Blue Cheer (the only band other than Sabbath that could possibly lay claim to inventing metal), and even the MC5. However, we nixed them for alternates that, we felt, built a more accurate jukebox out of music that specifically influenced Sabbath’s formative period.
That’s not to say that Ozzy, Tony, Geezer, and Bill were unaware of those aforementioned pioneers, but that the final bands and albums that we selected had a more obvious, direct impact on Sabbath’s sonic evolution, on its way to that metallic breakthrough, as well as some of their initial recordings.
So below you’ll find a complex stew of groups, albums, songs, even amplifiers and specific guitar tones that, together, shaped the Sabbath signature we worship today – here we go.