The Roots of Heavy Metal Music


You have probably heard of heavy metal music in the contemporary world and wondered how it made it to our mainstream culture. Heavy metal music is perhaps one of the most popular music genres among the youthful populations particularly in North America and Europe.

If you have seen a music performance where the musicians engage in headbanging, then what you saw was a heavy metal band performing live. Heavy metal is a sub-genre of the rock music, which developed in the 1960s and 1970s mainly in the United Kingdom as well as the United States.

Heavy metal has its roots in psychedelic rock and blues, which combined to form a thick and massive sound associated with solo guitarists, highly intensified distortions, vigorous beats, and general loudness. In subsequent sections, you will learn the comprehensive history of the heavy metal music and its popularity in the modern world.

The Brewing Storm

Before heavy metal made its grand entrance into the entertainment scene, it took some time to take shape. Precisely, the journey of heavy metal music started in the 1960s. The early periods of the 1960s saw an unprecedented explosion of popular music in the world stage.


You may already know some of the popular vanguard musicians such as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who, and so on. Such musicians emerged as the third generation of the well-renowned rock and roll genre in the early 1960s. These musicians formed bands that inspired the next generation of musicians.

Moreover, these groups also contributed to the development of the classic rock band music characterized by loud, rebellious, unpredictable, and sometimes dangerous themes targeting their audience. One thing you may have already realized is that this generation of singers used technological advances where their sonic disruption acquired new heights. It is at this period that heavy metal began to take shape.

The Birth of Heavy Metal

Perhaps, it would be critical to provide an overview of the events that inspired the birth of the heavy metal music.

In the second half of the 1960s, most cities in the United Kingdom such as Birmingham experienced high levels of unemployment because they were mostly dependent on blue-collar jobs. Although Great Britain had experienced unprecedented growth in the post-World War Two era, the economic growth slowed down significantly in the early 1970s rendering many people jobless.

The economic degeneration continued into the late 1970s and early 1980s coupled with numerous labor strikes and high levels of inflation. It is from this desolation and disillusionment that the heavy metal music took shape in Britain.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, heavy metal began to take shape as a separate genre away from blues and rock and roll. In this period classical heavy metal emerged setting the stage for its popularity. One of the first heavy metal bands, Black Sabbath, created their music with the plight of the young people in Birmingham in their mind.


Their music often bore dark and angry themes, which addressed the frustrations of the young people that were seemingly living on the margins of the mainstream society. You could rightly say that the heavy metal sub-genre grew out of an atmosphere protest against the establishment. Young people felt marginalized in the society and wanted to be heard through protest music.

The early heavy metal bands managed to synthesize rock music and blues into a new fusion music that took the world by storm. Unlike contemporary acts of the time such as pop music, heavy metal was starkly dark and addressed some of the taboo issues of the time such as recreational drug abuse, politics, and social exclusion in their lyrics.

In the United States, the musicians addressed the social injustices of the time and the war in Vietnam, which helped increase awareness of social issues among the youth. Then there’s something we like to call¬†old-school thrash/death metal. Checkout the¬†biography of Hemoptysis here to find out exactly what type of music this is.

Fan Following

In many respects, it could be argued that the heavy metal sub-genre has outlasted numerous other rock genres that have developed over the decades. The heavy metal music is characterized by a robustly masculine subculture. The fans of heavy metal are mostly young and white males in parts of Europe and North America engaged in Blue-collar jobs.

The heavy metal fans have a strong sense of fashion and regular concert-going in their towns or other cities. It suffices to say that heavy metal music enjoys a cult-like following in many parts of the world.