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Preface: I am by no means a self-proclaimed metalhead, but I do get a craving for some heavy music every now and then. Coming from a strong rock background, I'd like to take some time to feature some of my favorite hard rock tracks that are so heavy, I don't feel out of my league referring to them as heavy metal. So turn up your speakers and strap yourself in, 'cause we're going for a rough ride!
Monday (7/30/07): Armageddon - Buzzard [Armageddon, 1975]
Comments: The opening track to Armageddon's only album release, which was shortly followed by Keith Relf's death by electrocution while allegedly playing guitar in the bathtub. Besides Relf, of Yardbirds fame, the band boasted lead guitarist Martin Pugh and bass-player Louis Cennamo, both formerly of Steamhammer, and drummer Bobby Caldwell, who had played with Captain Beyond. Together they formed, surprisingly, the heaviest band that featured a former Yardbird, which is saying a lot of the band that spawned Led Zeppelin, Cream, and the Jeff Beck Group. Buzzard is an unrelenting tour de force that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Tuesday (7/31/07): King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man [In The Court Of The Crimson King, 1969]
Comments: Classic prog-rockers King Crimson introduce you to their court on their outstanding 1969 debut. The album varies from light to heavy and travels through many shades of weird, but the opening track crashes down like a lead brick on your foot, while the distorted vocals speak what may or may not be portentous prophecies of the now current century.
Wednesday (8/01/07): Pink Floyd - The Nile Song [More, 1969]
Comments: Coming from Pink Floyd's 1969 soundtrack to the romantic drug-addiction movie More, this is unarguably one of the band's heaviest recorded tracks. Usually known for creating emotional space-rock soundscapes, this song bashes you right over the head with its heavy distortion and no-holds-barred execution.
Thursday (8/02/07): Fleetwood Mac - The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown) [Boston Tea Party (Live), 1970]
Comments: At the turn of the decade, Fleetwood Mac founding member Peter Green was on the verge of a mental breakdown. When his radical plan of donating every penny the band made to charity was rejected by his bandmates who were just looking to make a living, Green resolved to quit the band and pursue his own interests. The last song he recorded with the band, and the last single released before Green split, was the ultra-paranoid epic, The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown). Simultaneously evoking the spirit of money, as well as the devil (which were one and the same to Green at this point), the live version from the legendarily forgotten Boston Tea Party performance captures all the paranoia, all the anger, and all the fear that Green must have felt at the hand of these evil forces, and channels it into a truly haunting and powerful experience to behold.
Friday (8/03/07): Deep Purple - Highway Star [Made In Japan (Live), 1972]
Comments: This is as good as fast, chugging metal gets. The musicianship in Deep Purple is impressive, and Highway Star really grabs you and holds on to you for the duration of the ride. The punctuated power chords hit you like punches, and the fluid organ lead sounds almost like screeching metal, but melodic. This version of the song is from the fantastic "I want everything louder than everything else" Made In Japan live album.
Saturday (8/04/07): Led Zeppelin - Achilles Last Stand [Presence, 1976]
Comments: Led Zeppelin often gets a reputation as one of the founding bands of the heavy metal sound, yet few of their songs really represent what heavy metal grew to be. Achilles Last Stand, however, with its infamous "wall of guitars" sound, is a heavy-as-led epic journey through the stratosphere of ancient mythology. The wandering guitar solos evoke a sense of adventure, travel, and lustrous times of youth that will not soon be forgot, while the pounding drums keep the pace at a swift trot. "It was an April morning when they told us we should go. As I turned to you, you smiled at me. How could we say no?" ...
Sunday (8/05/07): Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath [Black Sabbath, 1970]
Comments: The first song off of the first album by the band that defined the genre - Black Sabbath. This track is also considered the first 'doom metal' song, which is one of the few subgenres of metal that I have some respect for. To me, this song is the epitome of heavy metal. Slow, haunting, and heavy. And it gets a little fast at the end, too.