In the 1970s, heavy metal meant Black Sabbath and bands who sounded like Sabbath.
In the 1980s, things got… a little more complicated. As part of our Metal Week celebrations, MusicRadar documents the fragmented sub-genres thrown up by the metal explosion in the 1980s. First, some scene-setting…
When The Kinks cranked up the distortion on You Really Got Me in 1964, they lit the touch paper for a genre that would be forever characterised by loudness.
By the early '70s Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath had taken the dirty guitar sounds of late '60s pop, added some blues and made it even heavier. But it was the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Bands – Motörhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden - who would push metal to an explosive pinnacle by the turn of the '80s.
These British bands inspired a whole generation of artists like Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax to turn metal’s guitars up and push the tempo to the upper limits of sanity.
By the mid '80s, metal was enjoying its heyday on both sides of the Atlantic. But under the mounting pressure to innovate and grab the attention of an increasingly desensitised fanbase, it shattered into countless, sometimes bizarre, sub-genres.
From speed metal to Christian metal, we pick up the pieces of the 1980s heavy metal explosion…