Welcome to The Saw’s Butcher Shop, Butcher Crew! Today we have another installment of The History of Metal with the O.G. Metalhead! Let’s get right into it.
The first official recorded use of the term Heavy Metal was the song, “Heavy Metal (Takin’ A Ride),” by Don Felder (Eagles), and was from the soundtrack for the 1981 movie, Heavy Metal (Warner Media Group). In 1982 Sammy Hagar (Van-Halen) released a song, “Heavy Metal,” from a 1981 animated film with the same name. The film was actually about Heavy Metal – the culture, the music, and the bands. I’ve recently read an old show review for a KISS show from 1979. The author uses terms like “Rock” and “Metal,” interchangeably, to describe the show. So, the notion of Metal, and Heavy Metal, has been around for over 40 years.
If you could ask many of the old timers of the genre – Ozzy, DIO, Lemmy (Motorhead), KISS, etc. – they would tell you that this is Rock-N-Roll. However, if you ask The Metal God, Rob Halford (Judas Priest), or the great Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), their answer would be, Metal. I know of times over the early years when we used the terms interchangeably, like the KISS show reviewer from ’79 – even, jokingly, calling it “RAWK!” But for me, there was a definite line of distinction based on the bands and the music they played. In 1982, I fully and completely experienced (and fell in love with) Metal; my introduction came in the form of Screaming for Vengeance by Judas Priest. The term we used was “heavy” to describe the guitars and rhythm section behind Halford’s siren. Priest was HUGE in the development of Metal out of the beloved Rock-N-Roll era.
America’s answer to the New Wave British Invasion of Metal came in basically two different forms in the 80s – Big Hair Rock (Glam Metal) and Thrash (Speed Metal).
1983 Releases that were important to us:
Motley Crue – Shout at the Devil
DIO – Holey Diver
Quiet Riot – Metal Health
Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind
Ozzy Osbourne – Bark at the Moon
Mercyful Fate – Melissa
Twisted Sister – You Can’t Stop Rock-N-Roll
Accept – Balls to the Wall
Def Leppard – Pyromania
Black Sabbath – Born Again
Krokus – Headhunter
Grim Reaper – See You in Hell
Flick of the Switch – AC/DC
We continuously listened to all of these. But a few were more influential on me than the others:
- There was an arena about 20 minutes from my house where all the bands stopped on their tours. In ’83 we went to see OZZY, and he had a new band with him – Motley Crue. It was their Shout at the Devil tour and they were awesome! They were a dark glam (at the time), but the music was HEAVY! And we loved them! The next day I bought Shout at the Devil.
- Piece of Mind is the album where Iron Maiden hit their stride. It is one of my favorites to this day. It was a go-to album for me in 1983.
- To this day, Melissa is one of my favorite albums of all time! One other friend and I were the only one’s in our crew who listened to Mercyful Fate. But they would later help lead me to Death Metal.
- And to this day, Born Again is my favorite Black Sabbath album. It introduced me to Ian Gillan (Deep Purple). This is the only Black Sabbath record he sang on; in fact, Iommi didn’t want this album to be a Black Sabbath record, but a project group instead. The record company wouldn’t have it that way.
1983 is also the year that my identity in Metal began to affect my form of dress. I never dressed in Glam!LOL But I grew my hair out and got an earring – both of which my dad hated!LOL I dressed only in t-shirts and jeans, and leather and/or denim jackets. The fall of ’83, I was 13, and entering Jr. High School. “Cool” didn’t allow me to be smart. So, I didn’t apply myself at all in school; moving on each year by acing the final exams every year. I became more and more isolated from common society, and chose instead to stay within the Metal scene in my area, and with my friends. Metal was my life.
1984 Releases that interested us:
DIO – The Last in Line
Iron Maiden – Powerslave
Ratt – Out of the Cellar
W.A.S.P. – W.A.S.P.
Scorpions – Love at First Sting
Van Halen – 1984
Metal Church – Metal Church
Queensryche – The Warning
Dokken – Tooth and Nail
Armored Saint – March of the Saint
Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
Celtic Frost – Morbid Tails
Y&T – In Rock We Trust
Loudness – Disillusion
Notice that, in 1984, is where the split in Metal in America began to crystalize. On one hand you had Ratt, Loudness, Y&T, Twisted Sister, and Dokken, etc. While on the other hand, we were enamored with W.A.S.P. Celtic Frost, Metal Church, and (of course) Iron Maiden. Bands like Armored Saint and Metal Church really began to speed things up! We listened to, and loved it all. But I began moving toward an even heavier sound – Metal Church’s debut album is a perfect example – and Melissa from the previous year.
In 1985 I began as a freshman in High School. My identity, for all intents and purposes, was concretized in Metal. And I found a whole culture in High School with the same mindset. My school was divided into four main groups – Jocks, Brains, “Dirt Bags,” and Preps. I hung-out in the smoking area and listened to Metal, I was a “Dirt Bag” – a term that my father hated! BTW, the only adjustment to the way I dressed was the addition of a wallet chain (which I still wear today!).
1985 Releases of importance to us:
Megadeth – Killing is My Business…And Business is Good
Accept – Metal Heart
Anthrax – Spreading the Disease
Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion
Exodus – Bonded by Blood
Iron Maiden – Live After Death
W.A.S.P. – The Last Command
Dokken – Under Lock and Key
Kreator – Endless Pain
Overkill – Feel the Fire
Ratt – Invasion of Your Privacy
S.O.D. – Speak English or Die
Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
Scorpions – World Wide Live
Y&T – Down for the Count
Take note of the intentional direction of the music. There were many more releases in 1985, but they didn’t interest me. Even bands I previously loved; I still respected, but my tastes were heavier. A couple of these bands (and albums) forced my movement along even faster:
- Megadeth – I didn’t even know about Dave Mustaine yet, and from where he came. Metallica had released two albums, but I had not yet heard of them. But I did know this record. And it was worlds away from most of the other Metal of the time.
- Spreading the Disease was even more of an eye-opener for me. I loved the crushing riffs and blinding vocals. I would soon find S.O.D., not knowing that two of those members were in Anthrax!
- To Mega Therion – I’d been listening to Celtic Frost for a couple years. They were terrifying, but I was drawn to them. This record was horrifying! And I loved (and still love) it!
- Like The Saw, Live After Death is my favorite Maiden record. I got to see them in 1985 and the show solidified them in my mind as one of my favorites of all-time.
- And W.A.S.P. continued to shock and awe. Not so much because of the heaviness of the band, but because of the outrageousness of Blackie Lawless (vocals and bass). I had his posters all over my room (along with some old KISS, Maiden, and Metal Church). I had a pic of Blackie where his last name was shown as “Loudness.” I wish I still had that!
1986 would be an especially interesting year for me. I would go to another OZZY show, and he would have another new band opening for him – Metallica. And my world would forever change, that night, in the arena. 1986 is also the year that, in the fall, my family and I would move to my father’s hometown in North Carolina. Talk about a culture shock! And what of my Metal interests and identity in NC?!
But that’s another story for the next time!
The History of Metal with The O.G. Part I
The O.G.s Personal History with Metal – Welcome to the 70s – Part II
The O.G.s Personal History with Metal – 1980-1982 – Part III