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After dominating the early 80s rock scene heavy metal burned up in its own energy and exploded into countless sub-genres – we explore the leather, hair and frightening virtuosity behind the fragments of metal.
When The Kinks used distortion on You Really Got Me they lit the touch paper for a genre that would be characterised by loudness.
In the early 70s Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath took this dirty blues sound and made it even heavier. But it was the new wave of British heavy metal bands – Motorhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and co - who would push metal to its explosive pinnacle in the late 70s.
These darker, faster British bands worked in tandem with their US counterparts – notably Metallica and Anthrax - to turn metal’s guitars up and push the tempo to the upper limits of sanity.
By the early 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 – often bizarre - sub genres.
From speed metal to Christian metal, we pick up the pieces of the heavy metal explosion.