The age-old debate rages on: who truly birthed the heavy metal genre that has enthralled generations of headbangers? The common consensus has long favored the iconic Black Sabbath as the originators of this sonic powerhouse. However, the landscape of heavy music's inception is far more complex than meets the ear. And recently, a legendary figure of the genre has made a bold claim.
In a recent episode of the WTF With Marc Maron podcast (transcribed via Loudwire), the Metal God himself, Rob Halford, boldly chimed in on the topic. While the argument over heavy metal's origins has been a topic of constant discussion, Halford provided some fascinating insights.
"Some say there was the great band called Blue Cheer, 'Summertime Blues' was a really heavy song," Halford proclaimed, referencing the San Francisco-based bluesy, psychedelic rockers Blue Cheer and their thunderous rendition of Eddie Cochran's classic.
But the conversation didn't end there. Halford delved deeper into the history of heavy metal's nomenclature: "Some people suggested the name heavy metal was from a Steppenwolf song, 'heavy metal thunder' [from 'Born To Be Wild']." It's intriguing to note that the words "heavy" and "metal" were early contenders in the rock music lexicon.
And so, the Metal God continued to stir the cauldron of debate: "But as far as the sound, this is the great debate. Using Sabbath as a primary example… I’ve always pushed that Sabbath were a heavy metal band, but my friend Tony Iommi will always go, ‘No, we’re like a rock band, a hard rock band. I said, ‘No, you’re heavy metal.’ ‘No, no…'"
As opposed to merely contesting his comrade, Halford boldly seized the crown of heavy metal pioneers, declaring, “So, I will take that trophy that Judas Priest were the first ever, definitive heavy metal band. So that‘s a big thing to say," he says, aware that his soundbite will likely generate news headlines (heh, guilty!) — "‘Halford says that Priest were the definitive heavy metal band…’. I stand by the statement for a lot of reasons. It’s a definitive sound, it’s a well-honed craft that came from these guys in the band that all had their own definition of what this heavy sound, this heavy experience should be."
Whether or not you agree with Halford's claim, there is no doubt that Judas Priest is one of the most important and influential heavy metal bands of all time. Aging like fine wine, their newest single "Panic Attack" is as heavy as anything on Firepower.