Proto-Metal

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The combination of blues-rock with psychedelic rock formed much of the original basis for heavy metal.One of the most influential bands in forging the merger of genres was the British power trio Cream, who derived a massive, heavy sound from unison riffing between guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, as well as Ginger Baker's double bass drumming. Their first two LPs, Fresh Cream (1966) and Disraeli Gears (1967), are regarded as essential prototypes for the future style. The Jimi Hendrix Experience's debut album, Are You Experienced (1967), was also highly influential. Hendrix's virtuosic technique would be emulated by many metal guitarists and the album's most successful single, "Purple Haze," is identified by some as the first heavy metal hit. Vanilla Fudge, whose first album also came out in 1967, have been called "one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto_metal#Antecedents:_mid-1960s

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KING CRIMSON Red Album Cover Red
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ELOY Floating

Album · 1974 · Proto-Metal
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Unitron
Eloy's a band that has gone through many phases, and I love a lot of their stuff. Their 80's blend of new wave, hard arena rock, and pop of Performance and Metromania have grown to become favorites of mine, but the heavy psych/space metal of Floating will always remain my absolute favorite from the band and one of my top albums of the 70's.

This album showed me how far subtle atmospheric touches can go in creating a journey in album form. Even in a loud album with roaring guitars, swinging organ, and a gargantuan rhythm section, the ways they create atmosphere are keeping with the intensity of the instruments. What sounds like palm-muted riffing is used to create strange spacey sounds with the guitars/bass, the organ is given time to play quiet melodies in the background, vocals sometimes echo, and guitar harmonies can play short otherworldly notes. Castle in the Air, which might be my all time favorite Eloy song, is a perfect example of these touches. During the bridge, the guitar is still aggressive, but quieter with that spacey effect. I haven't heard anything like it in any other album, but damn does it sound perfect.

Aside from the unique sound, both the ear for guitar melodies and the rhythm section makes this album. Castle in the Air's opening riff just instantly hooks with its fantastic melody. Bassist Luitjen Jansen and drummer Fritz Randow are playing with the energy of a thousand men, even with the whole band being incredibly energetic already. The finale of Madhouse (No relation to Anthrax's) gallops and shreds like no other and has one of the craziest drum solos I've ever heard outside of a live context. No wonder Randow would go on to play for Saxon on a couple of their heaviest albums.

Simply a classic in my book.

UFO Force It

Album · 1975 · Proto-Metal
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voila_la_scorie
I don’t know how I missed getting into this band! Maybe “Miss Demeanor” just didn’t attract me? If I had heard this album in the eighties, I would have been hooked for sure. Yet somehow, in spite of loving Pete Way’s band Waysted and having a couple of Michael Schenker albums, I never picked up UFO. I bought the debut a few years back solely because it was a hard rock album of 1970 and it’s an okay album. It has it’s moments. Later I bought “No Heavy Petting” because I heard that “Lights Out” was a great album, but listening to it on YouTube, I didn’t get a rush. The previous album sounded way better to me and I rather like it. So at last I got around to getting another UFO album and my choice was this one, “Force It”. What’s with all the faucets in the album art? Imagine “faucet” and “force it” being said in a British accent.

From what I have heard, this might just be UFO’s most rock out album of the seventies. Later albums seem to lean on melody more than punch unless I've just not heard the right songs. On this album, I think we have some of the best rockers and riffs not only in the UFO catalogue but stand out tracks from the seventies hard rock scene.

“Let It Roll” is a great start. It’s remarkable how much Michael Schenker’s guitar reminds me of the Scorpions considering that he’d only played on the debut album. The melodic part is a nice touch. Perhaps it’s too soon to go pretty but the hard rocking music returns. It even gets rather heavy in parts!

“Shoot Shoot” is a fun rock song that has one awesome riff that crops up after the chorus. Again, very Scorpions in style but with a great groove to it. Damn that’s a good one, that riff!

The third track has to be the ballad. It’s almost predictable on some seventies albums. “High Flyer” is very pretty but it makes me think that this is a song a fictional band might play in a movie, the song where the girlfriend looks lovingly at her boyfriend on the stage. Then we get another kick ass rocker with “Love Lost Love”. It’s a melodic hard rock song with Schenker really exercising those lead guitar breaks. Holy tube socks but this is really good hard rock!

The album was produced by Leo Lyons of Ten Years After, and for “Out in the Street” he brings in band mate Chick Churchill to play some electric organ. I think it works great with UFO’s sound, the softer organ sound contrasting with the crunchy guitar. Phil Moog shows he’s got power and finesse in his vocals. And then we get another power house hard rocker with “Mother Mary”. I can’t get over this guitar sound! Schenker is really a key to the power behind this band.

There's more great hard rock with “Too Much of Nothing” and "Dance Your Life Away". The final track, "The Kids'", doesn't slow down and slips in some nice piano work between the power chords. But then the track curiously goes into a melodic and atmospheric instrumental called “Between the Walls”. It’s an unexpected way to end an album of kick ass rockers. Once more, I'm hearing a Scorpions guitar. It's interesting to think that so much of the Scorpions sound may have come from the younger Schenker brother who left after one album!

I think the selling point for me on this album is clearly the guitar sound and Michael Schenker’s playing. His solos and his riffs are fantastic! The rest of the band are great. Phil Moog is a stand out vocalist and perfect for that kind of hard rock with strong melodies and ballads. But if they’d had a lesser guitarist they wouldn’t have sounded so awesome on this album. You can thank Leo Lyons too for his great work.

This has become one of my new favourite old albums!

HIGH TIDE High Tide

Album · 1970 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
The TIDE comes in, the TIDE goes out. Such is the lesson of the UK’s most promising prog rock band of 1969 with the phenomenal “Sea Shanties” where the heavy prog band HIGH TIDE that consisted of Tony Hill (electric & acoustic guitars, organ, vocals), Simon House (electric violin, organ, piano), Peter Pavli (bass) and Roger Hadden (drums, piano, pipe organ) lived up to their moniker and delivered a stunning display of musical fusion that delivered an intense interplay of early heavy metal, progressive rock and psychedelia with jazzy chords that focused on the folky of Simon House’s violin screeches that traded off with Tony Hill’s hard rock bombast and weirdly designed guitar solos. Debuting in the year 1969, HIGH TIDE was one of the premier prog rock bands that developed a unique style from the getgo that sounded utterly like no other, mostly due to the ample use of violin as a primary instrument in the context of a rock band.

However, all TIDEs must recede and that’s exactly what happened with the sophomore release which was unexcitingly simply titled HIGH TIDE. The quartet tamped down the guitar heft of the debut and instead replaced it with an artier mix that included more piano, organ and acoustic guitar however the main combo pack punch of the guitar and violin were still in firm command of the musical processions. HIGH TIDE’s second eponymous album originally consisted of a mere three tracks that was just shy of the 33 minute mark with each drifting past the 8 minute mark. While “Sea Shanties” delivered scorching proto-metal performances wrapped in progressive rock compositions, this self-titled debut takes a few cues from Tony Hill’s previous psychedelic rock band The Misunderstood and lightens things up on this one in which the organ added the proper psych atmospheres to give this second coming a much spacier feel but make no mistake about it, Tony Hill still delivers some stellar guitar workouts as does Simon Hill on the violin. Overall the album focuses less on hairpin turns and progressive time signature frenzies and engages in long sprawling jam sessions most evident on the opening “Blankman Cries Again.”

The opening track signifies an immediate stylistic shift from the debut as the compositions are more accessible. The violin has more of a folky sound and at the jazzier times evokes a sense of the future sounds of Jean-Luc Ponty in the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The album is primarily string based with the guitar, bass and violin all sharing more less equal turf as Hill’s guitar dominion of the debut had clearly waned. While it could be argued that the three string sections along with the drums and organ touches deliver a more balanced approach to HIGH TIDE’s unique sound, in the end it sounds a little lightweight in the shadow of the debut’s sheer perfection. “The Joke” while exhibiting the classic HIGH TIDE touches also presents verses that sound a lot like early King Crimson which finds the band incorporating influences from the great KC that dropped their debut bombshell on the world and not so subtly announced that progressive rock was in town and was taking over the music scene for a while. Tony Hill’s vocals are quite distinct but at times he’s a dead ringer for Greg Lake’s slower singing style.

I find the third and longest track “Saneonimous” to be the most interesting and the one closest to the debut’s decked out progressive rock freneticism. While the track engages in the jamming sessions of the previous tracks, it’s allowed a bit more freedom in changing up the dynamics as well as tempo changes and more time signature shifts and at nearly 15 minutes long manages to remain engaging helped greatly by the instantly addictive melody and Tony Hill’s vocal style that fits perfectly in between the squealing violin runs and guitar and bass. Roger Hadden also deserves plaudits for a stellar percussive performance that manages to punctuate the busy polyrhythmic counterpoints of the strings. The atmospheric contributions often take a back seat but do add an artier mood during quieter passages.

As with “Sea Shanties,” the second HIGH TIDE album also has a much better remastered release than the original album. Not only is the production sharply improved but it includes a monstrous essential bonus track in the form of the near 16 minute “The Great Universal Protection Racket” which equals anything else on this album and while the remaining three bonus tracks that include two alt versions of “The Joke” and “Blankman” along with the short “Ice Age” are of lesser value, they are not throwaway tracks either. While the TIDE was HIGH on “Sea Shanties,” the sad truth was that all TIDEs must recede and therefore the second coming of this unique band was more like a LOW TIDE in comparison to the startling brilliant debut. While this second album may not be as immediate in its presentation and initially disappointing, many subsequent listens have substantially raised my opinion of it. It delivers an excellent mix of intricately designed prog rock only with the guitar heft of the debut tamped down. Unfortunately this marked the end of HIGH TIDE as Tony Hill, Peter Pavli and Roger Hadden moved on to work with Rustic Hinge as well as other acts. The band would reform in 1990 and release more albums but would never catch the magic of the early years. While the debut is superior, this is still an excellent release.

SCORPIONS Lonesome Crow

Album · 1972 · Proto-Metal
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martindavey87
‘Lonesome Crow’ is the 1972 debut of one of metal and hard rock’s longest running and most endearing bands, the Scorpions (or, more specifically, just Scorpions, without the “the”). Like countless others, I was introduced to this band by winds of change, being rocked like a hurricane and suffering severe blackouts, so it’s a huge surprise, and kind of an odd disappointment, to discover that the German hard rockers were something completely different when they first debuted.

Commonly referred to as “krautrock”, ‘Lonesome Crow’ is more psychedelic and progressive than what the band would go on to become known for. With a heavy emphasis on non-linear guitar solos and vocal lines that don’t really follow very clear melodies, it’s a bit of a mess of an album, especially if, like me, you were expecting the bands latter riff-fuelled sound to be present here.

Most of this falls down to guitarist Michael Schenker, who’s distinctive playing style is all over this album, but would leave the band before they could record a follow-up, which is where the group really start to develop their more recognizable sound. There is some impressive musicianship, which feels more akin to the progressive rock bands of the day, but for all the competent playing, they’re not very competent at writing catchy songs. Not yet, anyway.

I mean, if I had to really look for positives, then full credit would go to the bands technical abilities on their instruments. But I don’t really listen to albums marvelling at the musicianship if the songs themselves are pretty boring and forgettable. It’s a shame, but in fairness, these guys would certainly go on to evolve and eventually conquer the world, so dismissing ‘Lonesome Crow’ shouldn’t be such an issue, surely?

SILBERBART 4 Times Sounding Razing

Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Straddled between the peak years of prog rock and the heavy psych 60s, Germany’s Varel (by the North Sea) based SILBERBART (Silverbeard) was formed in 1969 by guitarist / vocalist Hajo Teschner who spent the latter half of swinging 60s in a band called Tonics which to his dismay resided on the commercial end of things which pleased him not. After his Tonics bandmates jumped ship and joined the James Last band, Teschner decided to pursue a more adventurous route in the nascent Krautrock years and after combining forces with percussionist Gerd Bäker and bassist Peter Bahrens the newly founded SILBERBART resorted to playing cover songs by Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and the band whose sound was most vital to SILBERBART’s future independence, Cream.

Once Bäker departed and was replaced by the jazz drummer Peter Behrens, Teschner was finally allowed to nurture his latent inner freak and the true SILBERBART unfolded into the mysteries that composed the early 70s in all its avant-garde majesty. While accelerating towards the future, the trio remained anchored to the heavy psych rock antics of the past and in the process created one of the stranger albums to come out in the early years of the Krautrock scene. While never really finding an audience outside of Northern Germany, SILBERBART nevertheless quickly gained a reputation as one of the loudest bands in the world for their brash proto-metal guitar stomps laced with fuzz and adrenalized distortion that were perfectly accented by a heavy percussive bombast and independent bass lines which accented the band’s unique fascination with atonality between instruments.

SILBERBART recorded its one and only album 4 TIMES SOUND RAZING in April 1971 live in the studio and despite the intentions of only recording demos in reality was recording the four tracks that comprised the full-length debut. These experimental demons were based on the early 70s blues rock and heavy metal but found no problem in engaging in complete musical meltdowns, freeform nosedives into the farthest extremes of psychedelic trips and bizarre noise based chaos that generated atonal clusters of sound that were bound together sole by the rhythmic drive of the drums. I do believe SILBERBART actually prognosticated the New York based no wave movement of the late 70s but i somehow doubt that any of those bands could have been exposed to these stylistic deviations presented on 4 TIMES SOUND RAZING however the album did appear on the Nurse With Wound list in 1979 so who knows.

4 TIME SOUND RAZING has four goofily named tracks and although it begins like a typical blues inspired hard rock album of the era on the opening “Chub Chub Cherry,” the band introduces oddball insertions into the status quo but don’t really let the freak flags really fly until the second and longest track “Brain Brain” which at 16 minutes plus, begins as an airy falsetto driven slow atmospheric psychedelic groove that sounds like a throwback to the Summer of Love but then after a few verses and choruses totally freaks out at makes a hairpin spin into a high tempo chaotic swirl of bombastic noisy heavy metal that sounds like a herd of elephants stomping over a concert of rock musicians but the band regain control and channel it into a more familiar Amon Duul II styled Krautrock jam. The track continues to jump all over the place and reminds me a lot of Gnidrolog’s debut album “In Spite of Harry’s Toenail” which wouldn’t be released for another year and in England. I think it’s the atonal independence of the instruments that makes this connection. But then again Alice Cooper’s debut “Hello Pretties” fits the bill as well.

The 10 minute “God” is more of a heavy psychedelic metal rocker and probably is the most “normal” sounding track but still goes left field into warm fuzzy guitar sequences, Ginger Baker sounding drums, Led Zeppelin-esque guitar solos with Guru Guru heavy feedback with freeform jamming added for good measure. While Teschner’s vocals are fairly reserved on this album compared to the crazy instrumental workouts, at times as in the middle of “God” he hurls some blood curdling screams out of the speakers enough to scare the bejesus out of you the first time you encounter this sonic exorcism! The track then totally derails and starts to zigzag all over the place. The track ends with an assault of heavy guitar chords, bluesy slides and atonal riffs running amok.

“Head Tear of the Drunken Sun” ends the album and saves the weirdest for last! It immediately takes that honor as it enters with a series of ferocious guitar slides and then enters blues rock territory with Teschner doing his best Creedence Clearwater Revival vocal tribute. While the guitar riffs begin more like something off of Deep Purple’s “In Rock” complete with sizzling guitar solos, it eventually breaks down into an ethereal Comus like freak folk with echoey clean guitars and spooky haunting sounds in tandem including what sounds like chimes or bells of some sort. The freakiness builds in intensity with guitar sounds sliding and whizzing like the LSD has kicked in. Is this Can’s “Tago Mago?” Wow. Sure sounds like it but this is more metal oriented and one of the earliest examples of what could be truly called psychedelic metal which could rightfully be compared to the bizarre funeral metal antics of England’s modern day Esoteric at least instrumentally speaking. After completely switching gears back into sober heavy rock, the track finishes in the bluesy rock style which it began with.

This is a wild ride for sure and utterly unique for its simultaneous intensity on two completely different levels. While many bands were pushing the heaviness and others were going full force into psychedelic, SILBERBART somehow found a way to incorporate both aspects into their sound without sounding forced. It really does sound like a band that went to practice but dropped some acid before the set however the lysergic influences only intermittently affect their playing and the result is 4 TIMES SOUND RAZING. Too weird for even the proggers of the era, this band didn’t last long at all and broke up soon after. While remaining a complete mystery for decades, the 2012 reissue finally added some liner notes to give some important history. This is a must for any adventurous Krautheads who love both the heavy rock strains as well as the psychedelic trippy ones. You can think of this as the most psychedelic band that took the late 60s along for the ride and in many ways lives up to the potential of the sounds that were never fully realized by bands like Cream, Blue Cheer and Iron Butterfly. This is a delicious and demented album but a ridiculously fun one at that!

proto-metal movie reviews

BLIND FAITH London Hyde Park 1969

Movie · 2006 · Proto-Metal
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stefanbedna
Blind Faith -London Hyde Park 1969 dvd. An excellent concert.Quite simple concert.A beautiful day and a hundred thousand people in London´s central Hyde Park listens Blind Faith in their first big gig.Absolutely wonderful.For me the historic value of this concert.Rating 4,0 stars for me.Concert will be held 07/06/1969.Performers lineup eric clapton lead guitar,steve winwood phenomenal vocal and keyboards, rick grech on bass and of course phenomenal ginger baker on drums.This is an example of the unique combination of two large groups of Cream and Traffic rights in the Great introducetd in London´s Hyde Park.Really very interesting concert series watch it again on dvd.I highly recommend.

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