Proto-metal Starter Kit

If you’ve kept up with my blog posts, it’s pretty obvious how obsessed with the 1970s I am — the fashion, the design trends, the hairstyles (can I get a cheer for shags anyone?), but most of all, the music.

Though hard rock was born in the ’60s, it truly reached its peak in the early ’70s. These two decades both proved how music and current events were deeply connected. Mainstream America was starting to become more and more cynical surrounding our involvement in the Vietnam War. There was a massive sense of government distrust, especially among younger people. The flower-child, happy-go-lucky, swingin’ 60s were over, and a rawer, more honest cultural movement slowly took its place. This change was very much so reflected in the music that came out of the early to mid-’70s. Rock shifted into something heavier and darker. Heavy blues were mixed with psychedelia, down-tuned guitars and leather. Hence, proto-metal was born.

Now you might immediately jump to thinking of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple when you hear the words “early metal,” but there were tons of lesser-known groups experimenting with heavy rock around the same time. There’s a lot to sift through (and not all of it is that great), so that’s why I’ve laid out some of my favorite proto-metal tracks, both mainstream and underground:

The Obvious Picks:

1. Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin

2. Sweet Leaf – Black Sabbath

3. The Ostrich – Steppenwolf

4. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly

5. Rock Me Baby – Blue Cheer

6. Into the Void – Black Sabbath

7. Black Night – Deep Purple

8. Freelance Fiend – Leaf Hound

9. One of These Days – Ten Years After

10. Master Heartache – Sir Lord Baltimore

Lesser-Known Gems

1. Guts – Budgie

2. Lions, Christians – Bang

3. Toxic Shadows – Lucifer’s Friend

4. Magic Potion – The Open Mind

5. Chocolate Piano – Orangutan

6. Long Tall Sally – Cactus

8. Plastic Man – Bodkin

9. MOTHER GREASE THE CAT – Ancient Grease

10. Hunter’s Moon – Yesterday’s Children

Enjoy the thrash,

DJ Butter

By toad maiden

A little Butter makes everything better. Part-time WKNC content manager and graphic designer, full-time sludgy surf rock funk master metalhead. Get in touch with ya suggestions n' such at