English Faculty Publications

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Book Chapter

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Heavy Metal Music in Britain


Since the first heavy metal album, Black Sabbath (1970) by Black Sabbath, elements of the Gothic have pervaded the genre, whether in the lyrics, the dress of both the bands and the fans, the album covers, the sound or the culture itself. Bands during the period 1970- 83 (roughly), including Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon and Motӧrhead, to name a few, incorporated various aspects of the Gothic into their lyrics, dress, stage shows and albums, and in doing so helped to give heavy metal a stronger, more powerful image with fans and media alike. More important than the image is the power and feeling that the music generates with the audience, be they in a packed concert hall or headbanging with an iPod in their room. As a crucial source of this power, the Gothic influence permeates all aspects of heavy metal culture, and this influence has helped keep the genre a vibrant form of express ion in the music world.

This article is broken into five sections, each examining a particular aspect of heavy metal or its background necessary for a better understanding of heavy metal. The analyses of the lyrics, album covers, music and style of metal are preceded by a brief look at the group of people who, without knowing it, have had an influence on various types of literature, film and, most especially for this chapter, music.

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Place of Publication

Burlington, VT

Peer Reviewed