While the visual art heavy metal music presents, it is important to realize that metal music would not be where it is today without the introduction of the electric guitar and ampliphiers. In fact, when it comes down to it, guitar playing is one of the most important aspects of heavy metal music. Without the guitar, heavy metal as it is known today simply would not exist. To add, heavy metal does not simply rely on just a set of clean vocals as one would hear in contemporary music of our modern day. "There is a great variety of ways that heavy metal singers sing, from mid-ranged clean vocals to a high pitched wail to a deep growl."
Throughout heavy metal's history, there has often been controversy surrounding the music and its artists in general. There has been much friction between heavy metal's followers and mainstream society in many different countries due to the loud, confrontational aspects of the music. A stereotype of metal music and its followers in general is that the music and those who listen to it are Satanic. While this is a stereotype and certainly a disgusting way at looking at a culture as a whole, it is important that I point out what is true about this issue. "During the late 1970s and early 1980s, flirtation with occult themes by artists such as Ozzy Osbourne, W.A.S.P, and Iron Maiden lead to accusations of "Satanic" influences in heavy metal by conservative Christians." While the occult is certainly Satanic and something to avoid, just because several artists get involved in it; it does not make everyone who follows the music Satanists. It may not be politically correct to get involved in Satanic practices, but it is even worse to constantly group all "metal-heads" under the same Satanic heading. For all the bad heavy metal bands in the world, there are equally just as many good ones taking the same stage. The criticism of heavy metal has gone through is a sign that it is disliked by mainstream culture. Often, the music is not given much of a chance and is blown off as if it is not a form of music at all. In fact, "critics traditionally dismissed the music as riddled with over-the-top adolescent lyrics, and conservative groups often protested what they perceive as evil lyrical content."
In the 1970s, the first heavy metal bands began to form. The bands that began kicking heavy metal out the door include The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Black Sabbath, and KISS. While Jimi Hendrix is not considered heavy metal by everyone, his band is normally considered "hard rock" which, during the 1970s, was often a term used interchangeably with "heavy metal." The Los Angeles Times Pete Johnson on the Monterey Pop Festival said that, "The Jimi Hendrix Experience owned the future, and the audience knew it in an instant. When Jimi left the stage he graduated from rumor to legend." Throughout The Jimi Hendrix Experience's career they produced several albums. Their inaugural album Are You Experienced? was released in 1967. Are You Experienced? was a London sesnation, heralding in both its streamlined fuzz-toned guitar monologues and the hip-gypsy garb of its members. Next, "the highly experimental album that critics marveled at, Axis: Bold as Love LP, was released in 1968." The Jimi Hendrix Experience's last album, Electric Ladyland, was a blue-rooted two-record electronic soundscape released in the late 1968. Electric Ladyland became a best-seller in the United States and the United Kingdom and a staple on F.M. radios. Interestingly enough, it also became the album of choice among pot-smoking American troops fighting in the rice patties and rain forests of Vietnam.
Amidst all of these good things happening to the band, Jimi Hendrix was found getting caught up in drugs, alcohol, and sex addiction. In a short time, "Hendrix's ego, excessive drinking, drug taking, and actions on stage caused other band members to leave. The Jimi Hendrix Project was finished. On July 1st, 1969, the group spontaneously dissolved in Denver, Colorado. Late in the following year, Jimi Hendrix died at 11:25am on September 18, 1970, at St. Mary Abbot's hospital in London. The coroner ruled the cause of death to have been inhalation of vomit due to barbiturate intoxication.
Though Jimi Hendrix is not the ideal role model, he surely paved the way for what we can deem "truer" forms of heavy metal to rear its head. Black Sabbath is perhaps one of the truest heavy metal bands, as they have been playing since the 1960s and they continue to do so even now. While the band line up has changed much over the years, Black Sabbath continues to be a reigning heavy metal champion. Throughout all these years of playing, the band has released a total of 29 albums all beginning with their self-titled album released in 1970 simply titled Black Sabbath. To this day, Black Sabbath is still considered one of the most influental bands in the development of heavy metal music.
Lastly, KISS is perhaps one of the most recognized bands in the world because of their over-the-top costumes and make-up, as well as for their party-style heavy metal rock music. KISS is just as famous for their crazy get-ups as they are for their music. KISS broke out their leather costumes and face paint in the 1970s. Despite how loud and "in your face" heavy metal music tends to be, KISS exemplifies the bringing in of male feminism to the music scene. In fact, oddly enough, KISS is responsible for popularizing platform boots for men. In KISS' lead vocalist, Gene Simmons, own words KISS (the band) "was fueld by an explosive mix of makeup, costumes, and attitude. It is important for one to realize that while these were some of the bands that helped begin what we know today as "heavy metal," there were also others who aided in bringing metal out of the closet. Some other bands include Led Zepplin, Deep Purple, and the Blue Oyster Cult.