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

Sub-genre collaborators:
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  • voila_la_scorie

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JIMI HENDRIX Are You Experienced? Album Cover Are You Experienced?
JIMI HENDRIX
4.63 | 22 ratings
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JIMI HENDRIX Axis: Bold As Love Album Cover Axis: Bold As Love
JIMI HENDRIX
4.48 | 17 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Red Album Cover Red
KING CRIMSON
4.23 | 73 ratings
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URIAH HEEP Look At Yourself Album Cover Look At Yourself
URIAH HEEP
4.20 | 47 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Larks' Tongues In Aspic Album Cover Larks' Tongues In Aspic
KING CRIMSON
4.07 | 67 ratings
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MEAT LOAF Bat Out Of Hell Album Cover Bat Out Of Hell
MEAT LOAF
4.48 | 9 ratings
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THE WHO Who's Next Album Cover Who's Next
THE WHO
4.15 | 17 ratings
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WISHBONE ASH Argus Album Cover Argus
WISHBONE ASH
4.13 | 18 ratings
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QUEEN Queen II Album Cover Queen II
QUEEN
3.99 | 49 ratings
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SCORPIONS Fly To The Rainbow Album Cover Fly To The Rainbow
SCORPIONS
4.02 | 37 ratings
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URIAH HEEP Demons And Wizards Album Cover Demons And Wizards
URIAH HEEP
4.00 | 44 ratings
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JIMI HENDRIX Electric Ladyland Album Cover Electric Ladyland
JIMI HENDRIX
4.09 | 20 ratings
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KING CRIMSON USA

Live album · 1975 · Proto-Metal
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FMOTP
I'm a little surprised at the lack of reviews/ratings for King Crimson's USA. I once read a statement by Maynard James Keenan calling King Crimson the biggest musical influence on Tool. By the time USA was released, centering on tracks from the 3 previous albums, metal was clearly a large part of King Crimson's musical recipe. These are great performances of great music. My favorite tracks are the two bonus songs from the 2002 reissue; it's the version to get. I haven't heard THE NIGHT WATCH or THE GREAT DECEIVER compilations for comparison, but I think the sound quality of USA is perfectly acceptable. The only consideration that reduces my rating of USA, for the MMA website, is its place on the "metal" scale.

HIGH TIDE Sea Shanties

Album · 1969 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Music history is fickle as there is no rhyme or reason as to why one band will become the hugest thing since sliced bread and another of equal talent is left to fester in the dusty obscurity bins. HIGH TIDE is the perfect example with their debut album SEA SHANTIES which was released the very same month as the extraordinary and hugely popular “In The Court Of The Crimson King” by none other than the legendary King Crimson. HIGH TIDE was pretty much a contemporary to the great KC in not only musical ambitiousness and stylistic extremities but also hails from the very same London scene that was seeing the clock run out on the 60s and ushering in the sobering new reality of the idealisms of peace and free love ceding into pure darkened disillusionment. While the band has received some kudos from the critics over the ensuing decades, HIGH TIDE has unfortunately remained off the radar of the average heavy rock meets prog rock world.

This band was put together by one of the most creatively energetic guitarists of the entire 60s, Tony Hill. After he saw a bit of cult status success with the psychedelic USAmerican rock band The Misunderstood which formed in California in 1963 he moved back to London in 66 (along with his USAmerican bandmates). They would hang around for another three years (although there was a deportation episode for the USAmerican members) and despite well deserved attention from John Peel never really took off into the psychedelic limelight. Square away in early1969 after The Misunderstood ceased to be, Hill formed HIGH TIDE and managed to release the first release SEA SHANTIES out on Liberty Records in October mostly due to a connection with Apple Records that got them noticed fairly quickly. After a few gigs with the Groundhogs, Edgar Broughton Band and Sweet Slag, the band quickly gained attention for their unique amalgamation of psychedelic folk, heavy driving hard rock guitar riffs and most of all the totally sizzling hot violin abuse of Simon House who sounded as if Paganini time traveled to join a psychedelic porto-metal band in the 20th century. He would become better known after he joined Hawkwind as well as albums with David Bowie, Thomas Dolby and countless others.

SEA SHANTIES truly remains the heaviest album that the 60s had to offer. HIGH TIDE took the ponderosity of the fuzzed out heaviness of Blue Cheer, Cream and Hendrix and turned everything up a few notches. “Futilist’s Lament” begins the album with a fuzzed-out heft that’s strong enough to blow the doors down as the guitar riffs are on high tempo matched with an equal fury of Peter Pavli’s bass and Roger Hadden’s drum abuse. Hill simply sounds like he has lightning up his ass with his frenetic fingers whizzing up and down the guitar scales. “Death Warmed Up” is equally heavy only sans Hill’s Jim Morrison inspired poetic prose and dead ringer as a singer vocals. This nine minute rocker is the perhaps the most frenetic rocker of all 1969 only matched by the single track “Communication Breakdown” by Led Zeppelin, only with ripping intense trade off’s between Hill’s guitar gymnastics and House’s virtuosic violin prowess that egg each other in some sort of insider’s competition or maybe just a pact with the devil. Their over-the-top jamming style exudes an atmosphere with equally compelling Eastern European scales that add ing a flair for the exotica.

Hardly a one trick pony, SEA SHANTIES dazzles with its diverse elements as it deviates from two distinctly different heavy rockers to the King Crimson sounding “Pushed, But Not Forgotten” pretty much following Crimson’s own approach of alternating heavier and lighter tracks. This one reminds a lot of KC’s “I Talk To The Wind” and sounds like something that really could have been on the Crimson album that came out the very same month only HIGH TIDE weren’t content to merely record a ballad but rather bust into heavier segments complete with the fuzzed out blues inspired solos and off-the-chart violin sweeps so sizzling hot that i’m waiting to hear a string or two break! “Walking Down Their Outlook” brings back the Jim Morrison vocal style only backed up by complex progressive rock time signature changes, alternating passages all peppered with ambitious dynamics and interesting compositional chord changes. “Missing Out” perhaps the most tied to traditional blues rock may be the least challenging but displays how HIGH TIDE can blow away the competition by taking a simple catchy blues melody and adding progressive touches along with a violin part that sounds like a soundtrack to a demented Irish jig rehearsal. “Nowhere” displays the remarkable playful interchange between Hill and House as they trade off their virtuosic string skills around a groovy bass line punctuated by jazzy drumming workouts.

It is of my humble opinion and perhaps adventurous tastes that i feel HIGH TIDE put out a veritable masterpiece equal in scope to KC’s beloved “In The Court” and in many ways upped them at their own game. Perhaps at first the Morrison vocal comparisons are a little too starkly derivative and the cacophonous nature of the restless guitar and violin vying for domination can be a little disorienting but after several spins this grower imbues an indelible charm that has me craving repeated listens as the unique approach of SEA SHANTIES has a morphinic effect that keeps the off-kilter ear worms digging deeper. Of all the woefully underlooked nuggets of gold let loose at the tail end of the 60s with a bang, none pleases me more than HIGH TIDE’s debut album that successful fits the bill of that transitory period like no other as it captures the psychedelic zeitgeist of the hippie era just a couple years removed while unapologetically looking towards the future and in the process unifying two trends simultaneously, those two being the progressive rock explosion as heard by their contemporaries King Crimson as well as prognosticating the inevitable big bang of heavy rock turned metal slightly before Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple really took off. SEA SHANTIES is a bona fide masterpiece in my book.

While the original album track list is worth the price of admission alone, i highly recommend the 2010 remastered Esoteric edition with bonus tracks. This contains three bonus tracks that were unreleased but from the same sessions as well as two demos. The demos are ok but not essential but the bonus tracks are well worth the extra effort to track this edition down. The most important of these bonus tracks is the extremely heavy and progressive behemoth “The Great Universal Protection Racket” clocking in at over 11 minutes and was a much loved highlight of their early live shows. This is a track so heavy and so complex in its style that it actually makes “21st Century Schizoid Man” seem a little tame in comparison. It is basically a sprawling composition that contains periods of heavy metal guitar riffing, schizophrenic proggy guitar licks, bluesy segments with all of the band members performing extremely tight unison between the instruments as they navigate through complex time signature workouts run amok. The track meanders through several different guitar riff styles but each one makes a reprise and even includes violin led segments as well. I actually love this track more than any of the other tracks on the album! The other two bonus tracks are also excellent but not as OMG amazing as the first one. “Dilemma” revisits territory heard on “Walking Down Their Outlook” and “Time Gauges” is another instrumental workout of complex prog laden freneticism trading off with mellow chilled out violin led melodic passages.

T2 It'll All Work Out In Boomland

Album · 1970 · Proto-Metal
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voila_la_scorie
I’m of the opinion that progressive rock and heavy metal share a strong bond from infancy. It’s true that many of the metal bands of the eighties and nineties were heavily influenced by prog bands of the seventies, but more than just that, I believe that way back in the late sixties as both progressive rock and the first generation of heavy rock artists were developing their crafts, both subgenres had emerged from the nexus of psychedelic music. Simply speaking, progressive rock would borrow a lot from jazz and classical while early heavy metal would come from a combination of acid rock or heavy psych and a revamped version of the blues. Yet thanks to the experimental psychedelic rock years, both subgenres would freely choose items from the other’s bag of tricks. One needs look no further than King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man to hear how both prog and metal could be presented in a single song.

T.2. were an English band that took heavy guitar rock and blended it with a jazzy rhythm and created extended songs which sometimes featured psychedelic guitar distortion and feedback sections and other times soft, acoustic moments. In the simplest description of their music, imagine “Fire and Water” era Free with the largely unknown Necromandus. They released a single album in 1972 and a second album’s worth of material was shelved until 1997. They released three albums in the nineties which seem to have been mostly overlooked.

“It’ll All Work Out in Boomland” is an album of four tracks with side B being taken up by the 21-minute “Morning”. The song that ends up on YouTube proto-metal and early heavy rock compilations is “No More White Horses”, which opens with a simple three-chord riff played muted at first but then opens up as the music intensifies. It’s a great example of early doom metal as indeed was the music of many English bands at the time. The band is joined by a trumpet (possibly two) and then the song mellows down for the verses while powering up for the choruses. It closes with lots of drum action and blazing guitar work.

The album opener, “Circles” is also a very worthy track to mention for its jazz-based drumming and bass work and some of the guitar playing as well. But there are open chords and barre chords played with crashing bursts of distortion. Near the end, the music lays back for some experimental jazz-type playing as the guitar goes from clean jazzy exploratory notes to psychedelic distortion rumbles and feedback.

The middle track on side A, “J.L.T.” is a mostly acoustic track not unlike something Pink Floyd might have done on the soundtrack for “More”.

Side B’s “Morning” is basically in two parts, with a slow acoustic opening that leads into a mid-tempo rock song with more Free-like hard rock chords. There’s a two-minute psychedelic/experimental interlude before the second part begins, which is characterized by a more up-tempo rock number that then becomes a showcase for wild guitar soloing. Note that during these lead guitar showcases, the drums are often going nuts in parts while the bass is holding down a repetitive but frantic rhythm. The bass does stand out a lot on this album and though it often repeats its lines, bass player Bernard Jinks says in the CD re-issue booklet that he intentionally restrained himself to allow for Keith Cross (guitar) and Peter Dunton (drums) to be able to show off their talents more.

The re-issue comes with three bonus tracks, all of which are BBC sessions. “Questions and Answers” and “CD” are not on the album and feature a more psychedelic guitar sound and playing style, leading me to believe that these are older recordings. “CD” must be the hardest hitting track on the whole, uh, CD. I also feel the guitar solos on these two tracks are more emotive than what we hear on the actual studio album. The final track is “Circles” again, though I feel it’s less effective here with the BBC because the drums are not mixed very loudly and the heavier guitar chords are also quieted down.

T.2. were a band that took the jazzy blend of rock, intensified the guitar sound with lots of hard-hitting open chords and barre chords, and added some frantic lead guitar. They played longer tracks and like most bands of the day, they added mellow acoustic parts. There is also the presence of brass on a couple of tracks. They are not progressive like Genesis or Yes or even King Crimson but more like the psychedelic bands of the late sixties who added parts to songs that allowed for a galloping rhythm section to provide a backdrop for fast fingers on the guitar fretboard. An album recommended more to people who enjoy heavy psychedelic rock and early hard rock / heavy metal and less to people who enjoy experimental jazz or symphonic rock.

ZOLAR-X Timeless

Album · 2004 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Referred to as the first LA glam rock band according to the 1998 book “Glam” by Barney Hoskyns amongst others of the same opinion, the bizarre ZOLAR X was proof of the fact that success in the music industry is a mere roll of the dice with not talent, originality or even popularity in live settings dictating the whims of Lady Luck. Such is the case with one of the most popular mondo bizarro proto-punk pioneers of the LA glam rock scene formed in 1973 who not only were famous fort heir catchy proto-punk space anthems that captured the anti-pomp anxiety gestating in the West Coast scenes during an era of hippie entitlement but most noted for their outrageous appearance and behavior as they dressed and acted like space aliens and even invented their own language and so committed were they that the band lived the part and stayed in character 24/7. Having taken the live LA glam rock circuit by storm, for a short time they ruled the scene. Not bad for a bunch of freaks who claimed they came from Zolaria, Plutonia!

Having caught the public’s attention with their bona fide detachment from anything terrestrial and sort of resembled kitschy alien action figures that looked like a possible rock band from Mr Spock’s home planet of Vulcan (note their pointy ears!), ZOLAR X equally caught the city by storm with their exquisitely constructed space-infused rock compositions that left no attendees un-rocked during their live performances. Yes, the world had been invaded by these freaks who came in peace (although the toy ray guns may have lead some to conclude otherwise) but despite all the attention getting raucous rockers they churned out coupled with some of the most outrageous live performances of the entire LA glam rock scene, ZOLAR X skirted through the 70s without a record deal and as a result of the ensuing ventures into drug related addictions and other tales of woe entered the following decade placed in the rare category of having been classic live performers who never released a single album.

Despite the elusive opportunities smacking them on the face and then provokingly running away, ZOLAR X were at long last redeemed when long time fan Jello Biafra finally collected more than a decade’s worth of material and then better late than never released the collection TIMELESS on his Alternative Tentacles label in 2004. So at long last, after decades of degradation and every personal setback humanly (or is that “alienly” possible?), the glitzy space rockers finally garnered the attention they deserved and jumped back into their time capsules to work on previously unfinished endeavors as LA’s best rock ’n roll obscurities that somehow missed the train and ended up stranded at the station for 30 years. Only this time they were up to the challenge and have been releasing new albums and touring ever since. TIMELESS is more than a collection of tracks that paints the picture of a band who was in the same league as their hugely successful contemporaries but is a history lesson delving into the timeline of that alternative universe where this album would be considered more of a “greatest hits” collection rather than a tribute to “lost opportunities.”

TIMLESS cuts right to the chase with a short little introductory narrative “Recitation” in their invented language sounding like they are in a sound portal but sets the perfect tone for the reckless rocker “Timeless” which indicates immediately what made ZOLAR X, so well, different. Immediately they not only exude a self-prophesy in that title and simultaneously display their influences and who they influenced. There is of course the obvious “Ziggy Stardust” era of David Bowie but not as much as you’d expect. There’s a clear nod to the heavy proto-punk scene of The Stooges and New York Dolls but they also display a much heavier approach entering proto-metal territory with riffing that was much heavier and faster than anything other glam rockers other than possibly The Sweet were churning out at the time.

ZOLAR X had the knack of creating catchy pop laden melodies brazened with the perfect punk angst frosted with psychedelia and even ventured into the progressive rock world with their amazingly complex compositions “Horizon Suite” and “Plutonian Elf Story,” the former which sails through three distinct segments and lasts well over 10 minutes while the latter offers a humorous journey into their space kitsch laid out in prog fashion. While their appearance and stage antics seem to have gotten most of the lion’s share of attention, the musicianship of these alien forces is also quite astonishing as the riffs are catchy, tight and to the point. ZOLAR X were keen songwriting machines and every track shines its own unique light onto their overall sound. ZOLAR X was founded by Stephen Della Bosca who renamed himself Ygarrist, and was the songwriter in chief as well as an accomplished guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist. The rest of the band just fell into place with band members adopting equally looney names: Zany Zatovian on the space bass, Eon Flash and Rom Eclipse on drums and we can’t forget to name Rogan on keys!

TIMELESS is the ultimate testament to these forgotten legends who never found their just dessert in the brutal dictates of the 70s LA music scene and leaves me wondering how many other crazy talented acts were also left behind in the mad rush for finding the next money making enterprise in the greedy money grubbing days of record company executives. ZOLAR X proves they are indeed one of the greats who crafted a sound and image infinitely more diverse than any of the bands they would influence and light years away from the limiting sounds of The Stooges, The Kinks or other similarly sounding acts. Whether it be the bluesy rock ’n roll shuffles that remind of glam rock’s antecedents or the heavy punk infused rockers that got them noticed and cited as pioneers in the field, the story of ZOLAR X is an interesting one and TIMELESS perfectly demonstrates the band’s evolution from their formation in 1973 to their ultimate initial demise in 1981.

FIRE Could You Understand Me

Album · 1973 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Originating all the way from the obscure underground of early 70s Yugoslavia, now considered the independent country of Croatia, the power trio FIRE was famous for turning up the fuzz factor to the max in the vein of early heavy psych acts such as Blue Cheer only with a more Led Zeppelin blues induced fix as heard on Led Zep’s debut. Coming from the small town of Čakovec, the band found that they were a little too exotic and eccentric for their home country at the time as they were going fully international with English lyrics and Hendrix, Zeppelin and Cream as their engine of influence therefore the band found themselves relocating to the Netherlands in order to garner a larger following. The band consisted of Jura Havidič on guitars and vocals, Milenko Balič on bass and Emil Vugrinec on percussion and vocals. Together they released their one obscure album COULD YOU UNDERSTAND ME in 1973 however in reality this album seems more like a remnant from the heavy psych world of 1967 / 68 rather than anything that was being released that far into the 70s. But it should be emphasized that coming from behind the Iron Curtain meant that they were only exposed to Western influences in trickles rather than in torrents which was occurring in more open countries.

Heavy bluesy psych rock is the name of FIRE’s game and their one and only album is chock full of fuzz-fueled heavy riffs that rock the house with more tomentum than a Georgia peach plantation. FIRE turned up the heat to maximum overload and managed to score a record deal on the private Killroy label from the reputation as a hard hitting live act despite having been somewhat decadally challenged since their influences cover the spectrum of Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Steppenwolf, early bluesy Led Zeppelin and of course the distortion noisy pioneers Blue Cheer. Understanding COULD YOU UNDERSTAND ME is simply to recognize all those influences and mix and mingle various aspects of all those bands that went into the pot, however despite all the Western pioneers finding their influence in recognizable chunks, FIRE did successfully manage to change it up and develop their own sound sufficiently to make this album a very decent listen. Despite the over-the-top fuzz effect, the other noticeable trait is the hyper-developed drumming traits of Vugrinec as he delivers some sophisticated percussive drives along with jazzy chops for a mere blues rock band. Also unexpected are the occasional progressive time signature oddities that pop up randomly throughout the album.

Speaking of progressive attributes, the winner in this department surely goes to the nine minute closer “Flames (Fire)” which is the highlight of the entire album utilizing all the FIRE signature sounds in one massive attack that never outstays its welcome. The track turns the fuzz up to the most satisfying levels even leaving Blue Cheer in the dust. The bass line is somewhat remnant of “Radar Love” by Golden Earring but there is a completely different bluesy melodic parade of riffs and guitar licks all souped up with all the effects afforded for the day. It rambles on with fuzz-laden riff after riff building to a satisfying crescendo and ushering out the album with grace. I’ve actually never heard anything this heavy and distorted from this early time period which is exactly why this album has surfaced from the abyss and gained a cult following in the modern day. Unfortunately despite the grandiose efforts of pyroclastic fuzz flows, sinewy riffing and vigorous percussive drive, FIRE failed to catch on to a larger audience perhaps due to the anachronistic feel of their music that would have sailed to the top of the charts a mere five years prior. Despite the pitfalls of FIRE’s approach to their one and only release, this is quite the competent slice of first generation heavy metal. The only gripe i really have is the lackluster vocal performances which get the job done but are far too ordinary to get excited about. As for the musical performances, this is top notch with extra kudos to the nine minute closer.

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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