Hard History

Part I Page 4

While a number of heavy metal bands cemented their reputation as rock giants for years to come, certain bands would begin taking another highly popular form of music, progressive rock, into a heavier direction. Bands like Pink Floyd and Genesis had remained most of the time outside the heavy metal realms, while others like Jethro Tull, Yes, and King Crimson flirted with it more often on songs like "Aqualung," "Heart of the Sunrise," and "21st Century Schizoid Man," respectively. Characterized by complex song structures, odd time signature arrangements, and a highly technical and virtuous use of instruments, progressive metal would nevertheless not come truly into being until the creation of Rush. On its debut album, Rush, the band had not yet acquired a tendency for the progressive; but by the time of Fly By Night and the acquisition of drummer Neil Peart, the band had changed its approach and become more ambitious lyrically and musically, driving its progressive outings to their furthermost limits on albums like A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres. Most other progressive bands throughout history, such as Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Focus, Asia, IQ, and Marillion, only flirted with metal through their years of existence.

Unfortunately, metal was to stagnate completely in the late Seventies. Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, and Black Sabbath were digging their own graves due to their drug-consuming habits, Kiss had lost its charm because of over-commercialization, Deep Purple faded out through its never-ending personnel changes, and Led Zeppelin ended with the death of drummer John Bonham; only Judas Priest and Queen remained almost intact during these times. And not only were the greatest bands dying slowly, but every new band was just ripping off the old glory; metal was on its dying bed. Only a few bands were still thriving among the ruins, among them AC/DC and Rush; the former taking over the world with its three-chord attack, guitarist Angus Young's lunatic careening on stage, and Bon Scott's hell-raising screams; the latter inspiring new generations of musicians with its progressive brand of music. Ted Nugent, formerly of the Amboy Dukes, also released hyperactive gems like Cat Scratch Fever and Double Live Gonzo to much acclaim during the last half of the Seventies, and would be another of the few surviving musical groups. Blackmore's Rainbow was the last of the great rock giants to die or metamorphose by the end of the Eighties, after Ronnie James Dio left the band amidst a flurry of clashing egos which had earlier produced melodic epics on albums like Rainbow Rising and Long Live Rock n' Roll.

Hard History Part II