Every Metal Subgenre Began as a Black Sabbath Song

Some people out there argue that heavy metal was not invented by Black Sabbath. These people are wrong. To be sure, the Led Zeps and Deep Purples of the world certainly had their metallic moments, but it wasn't until Tony Iommi sheared off his fingertips in a metal stamper and down-tuned his guitar to compensate for this maiming that a new and sinister strain of rock and roll was truly sired.D:


Ozzy Speaks: Reunion Proves Once Again That Black Sabbath Is Unkillable

Now, it's a fact that Sabbath didn't consider themselves heavy metal -- not at first, anyway. They viewed themselves simply as putting a slightly new twist on the thunderously heavy blues-rock pioneered by the likes of Cream. There's a lot of truth in that self-assessment. But not even Clapton and co. can claim quite the broad influence on rock and roll that Black Sabbath has produced.

Need proof? Well, how's this for a premise: Practically all of heavy metal's 18 jillion, multifaceted subgenres can be traced back to a specific Black Sabbath song. In cranking out nearly an album per year back in the '70s, the band did a lot more stretching and exploring than they're sometimes given credit for. The result is that they managed to create an entire heavy-metal universe, one track at a time.

They didn't do it alone, of course, and today's metal is as rooted in hardcore punk as it is in '70s hard rock. But the seeds are there.


10. Doom Metal: "Into the Void," 1971
Let's start with an easy one. Nowhere in the wide, wacky world of heavy metal subgenres is Black Sabbath's influence more keenly felt than in doom metal. The band's slow grooves, down-tuned guitars and murky riffs embody the style to this day. The eerie spirit of impending doom on their early songs remains the template for the majority of doom metal's modern practitioners.

"Into the Void" is a particularly good example of the doom metal sound from Masters of Reality, but it could easily be replaced on this list by any number of tracks from the band's first few albums.

9. Power Metal: "War Pigs," 1970
Black Sabbath wouldn't truly lead the charge toward power metal until Ozzy was replaced by Ronnie James Dio, one of the preeminent operatic voices in rock history. But the predilection for power was there almost from the very beginning. "War Pigs," possibly the greatest anti-war screed ever set to a backbeat, ranks as one of the most spine-tingling songs in heavy-metal history thanks largely to the most powerful vocal performances of Ozzy Osbourne's long career. It doesn't get a lot more anthemic than this one.

If you needed any additional proof of the profound influence of "War Pigs" on the formation of the power metal subgenre, consider that it was a favorite cover tune of Dio's pre-Rainbow group, Elf.

8. Thrash Metal: "Symptom of the Universe," 1975
Sabbath infinitely preferred a slow, rumbling sound to high-octane speed. Almost nobody had more influence on the powerful guitar riffage that was the hallmark of thrash metal than Tony Iommi, however.

The chugging crunch of "Symptom of the Universe" clearly predicts the rise of bands like Metallica and Slayer in the decade to come, not to mention Geezer Butler's lyrical themes dealing with evil, war and, uh, dirty women that were employed throughout the group's run in the '70s.

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I think several Sabbath songs posted here are a little bit far from the genre they are suposed to predate. I think there´s another band that  fits much better in most subgenres:

Judas Priest.

Power metal: Exciter, Freewheel Burning...

Thrash metal: Rapid Fire, Screaming for Vengeance...

Hair metal: Living After Midnight

Funk metal: White Heat Red Hot, Burning Up.

Prog metal: Victim of Changes

Death metal: Genocide (if Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is considered "proto-death metal", this song of course it is).

Doom metal: Dissident Agressor.

Groove metal: Grinder.

Probably not every song was the first one ever created in each genre (doom metal, for example, was already created by Sabbath), but they all truly fit. The subgenres I couldn´t really found were Black metal, White metal and Stoner rock; but if we follow the criteria used in this article, I´m sure we will find some.


Nicely done.  Going Saturday in Austin then in Indy in August.  Hoping some of these get played.

Tony Gutierrez
Tony Gutierrez

Me...I love Sabbath, but this new album sounds like they are ripping off themselves. Is that possible?

MadMac topcommenter

Yes, it is. John Fogerty beat a law suit over this but I think it was valid. For further reference, Offspring.

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