Black Sabbath vs Led Zeppelin: Who Created Heavy Metal?
Do you like to debate about music? Good, because I do too. Here is a topic that has sparked as much debate in the pop culture landscape as Roe Versus Wade… Who invented or created heavy metal?
Was is Led Zeppelin with their ground breaking riffs, thunderous back beats and Wagnerian chord progressions? Or, was it
Black Sabbath with their gloom and doom riffs, evil inspired lyrics, and swing-jazz style drumming? You ask 10 different people and you’d probably have five for Sabbath and five for Zeppelin. Both bands evolved out of the British blues invasion of the 1960s. Both bands took what Deep Purple, The Kinks, Cream and The Yardbirds started and took it to an entirely new stratosphere. Now, this may sound like a cop-out but in my view, they both were the creators of the genre that I hold near and dear to my heart.
Yes, I am going to elaborate..
It is absolutely impossible to lump a band like Poison in to the same genre as a band like Slayer. Currently, they are both under the umbrella of hard rock and metal. But, as we all can agree, these two acts have zero in common. It would be like putting Eminem in the same category as N Sync simply because they both get played on top 40 radio. Poison and bands of that elk should be nowhere near Slayer and Slipknot and Cannibal Corpse. That is why I feel there are two sects of the metal genre, two family trees if you will. The Black Sabbath side and the Led Zeppelin side.
Let’s take a Misty Mountain Hop in our Delorean and go back to 1971 if you don’t mind. Zeppelin just released Zoso, commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV. Zoso is the album that has Stairway to Heaven for you non rock fans. I can see this record being played at parties and college dorms all over America and Britain. Can’t you picture some jock standing in front of his bedroom mirror lip syncing to the beginning of the song Black Dog? “Hey hey mama said the way you move…” Also in 1971, Black Sabbath released Master of Reality. I can see some lonely teenager sitting in his room, headphones on, listening to Sweet Leaf and Children of the Grave as he draws pentagrams on his loose leaf cover. To me, the vibe, aura, look and general sounds of the bands are not comparable. That is why I think there are two family trees when it comes to metal.
As we go further in to the decade of the 70s, you start seeing each band spawn one disciple after another. Bands like Kiss, Aerosmith, Van Halen and Def Leppard all followed the Zeppelin template of making riffy, cool, catchy music that could be played at parties and dorms. Bands that followed the Sabbath template were Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Venom and Motorhead. These bands were full of angry, pissed off dudes and they are going to tell you about it whether you liked it or not. Their sound was dark, their look was edgy, and the mood of their music was not made for mainstream radio. No Stairway to Heaven, Dream On or Beth from these bands. That is for sure.
As we continue in to the 1980s, you saw both factions drift further away from each other. The Zeppelin tree morphed in to what would become known as Glam Rock. Twisted Sister, Ratt, WASP, Dokken, and Motley Crue would carry the Zeppelin torch while Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer would take the Sabbath sect to a much more dark and dangerous place. My friends, how can a song like Creeping Death by Metallica be put in the same big tent as Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi? Those two songs and those two artists should not even be in the same hemisphere much less the same genre of music.
If you have read my prior blogs and articles about music, you probably could have guessed that I gravitate more towards the Sabbath side of the heavy metal world. Even though I like the Crue and Kiss, Def Leppard and Poison, I can’t really relate to the music they made. I was that lonely teen who sat in his room listening to Appetite For Destruction until the batteries died on my Walkman. I could not relate to the smiling John Bon Jovi and the pretentious Bret Michaels. I could relate to the snarling Axl Rose and the bratty Angus Young. Oh, and what about my beloved AC/DC you ask? Which side are they put in? Honestly, I would say neither. They are not glam, nor are they heavy metal. They just kind of sit out there in the wind, by themselves, which is just fine with me.
Other artists like Alice Cooper, Iron Butterfly, Blue Cheer and even bands like The Who contributed in one form or another. Zeppelin and Sabbath picked up the ball and took what they all did and, my goodness, did they ever change the world of music and I am very thankful for that. Zeppelin inspired literally millions of musicians while Sabbath was the first band that really spoke for the alienated, disenfranchised loner and gave us a sense of empowerment and belonging. So, the next time you and your buddies talk about the godfather’s of hard rock and metal, remember what was said here in this piece. Sabbath and Zeppelin each deserve credit, albeit partial credit.
Two of my biggest passions are sports and rock music. Both of which, I have many strong and at times provocative opinions on.
My favorite bands are AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Pantera, and 80s Metallica and well, I have to admit I listen to a lot of Kiss, too.
My teams are the Mets, Jets and Rangers(I know, they all suck)
I've never met a place for buffalo wings that I didn't like.
I am a customs house broker by trade but I have this yearning to express my views on a variety of topics and blogging has become a great outlet for my voice.
In the words of the immortal Bon Scott, "Lock up your daughter and lock up your wife. Lock up your back door and run for your life. The man is back in town, so don't you mess me around"