As hard rock started to find its sea legs at the start of the ‘70s, something even more sinister was emerging right behind it. In between the likes of Led Zeppelin making their mark on the world, bands like Black Sabbath were coming to the forefront with songs that were tapping into something much darker, culminating in what we know today as metal music. Let it be clear that this wasn’t commercial music, so they could do whatever the hell they wanted.
If you go through the back catalog of metal’s history, it makes sense that these didn’t get on the radio all that often, being far too long to even be considered for mainstream radio play. That didn’t stop them from being fan favorites in the catalog of these acts, giving the songs time to breathe and sprawl out so they can say all they need to say.
This isn’t all about demons and violence either, with each of these acts using the format that they have to make something truly spectacular, whether that means telling a long extended story or making the entire Earth shake just from the pure power that they’re bringing across for every minute that these songs last. Metal has its more compact moments, but the best bands know how to take you on a journey with their music.
10. Victim of Changes - Judas Priest
During the salad days of Judas Priest, the term metal didn’t really have that much staying power yet. Even though people like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were coming to the forefront with riff based tunes that were much more aggressive than what had come before, none of them really self identified as being metal bands. After flirting with some psychedelic sounds on Rocka Rolla though, Priest claimed the title for themselves from the moment Victim of Changes started.
Kicking off Sad Wings of Destiny, this feels more like a statement than a song coming from Priest, as Rob Halford gets more comfortable with his falsetto shout and KK Downing and Glenn Tipton working in conjunction with each other. Even though most of the proto metal bands that had come before them had blues influences to draw on, this almost didn’t need any bluesy sounds to make it sound intimidating, just hitting you over the head with different power chords for 7 minutes.
Priest would go on to release even more bombastic tracks, but Victim always found its way into the setlist, having that sinister edge that millions of metal bands took as their new template. It may have been a lot to take in at the time, but that final scream from Halford at the end makes it all worth it.