By Brian Ives
For years, heavy metal fans were understandably sore at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for ignoring the genre they love. In the past few years, that’s changed. In 2006, Black Sabbath was inducted (after being snubbed for years), and in 2009, Metallica followed. Next year, a seminal metal influence, Deep Purple will join them (along with hard rock bands AC/DC, Aerosmith, Van Halen and KISS) .
But there’s a lot that’s missing in between the early blues-based stomp of Sabbath and the speed metal of Metallica. Here’s a few artists from that time who also deserve to be considered in the next few years.
Motorhead – They didn’t look pretty and they definitely didn’t sound pretty, either. Just as loud as Sabbath but way, way faster, they were one of the few metal bands to cross over into the punk rock world at a time where the genres were defiantly separate. A huge influence on speed and thrash metal. In other words, no Motorhead/no Metallica, a point Metallica made when they played Lemmy’s 50th birthday as “the Lemmys,” doing all Motorhead covers. You could compare them, in a way, to the Velvet Underground, in that they didn’t sell a ton of records, but it seemed that everyone who bought a Motorhead record started a speed metal band.
Judas Priest – With their two-guitar attack (courtesy of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing) and the wailing, operatic vocals of Rob Halford, Priest brought metal into the ’80s, and influenced pretty much every band that followed. They even managed a few minor radio hits with “Breaking the Law,” “Living After Midnight” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.” Plus, with their head-to-toe black leather look, they kind of created the metal dress code for years to come.
Iron Maiden – Maiden was influenced by Priest’s two-guitar and wailing vocal approach, but put their own spin on it, adding horror and later sci-fi inspired lyrics, and occasionally even a bit of politics into their music. Notably, Maiden became a platinum selling, arena headlining act, without ever having a radio hit, something that up-and-coming metal bands surely took note of.
Randy Rhoads – There’s surely an argument that Ozzy Osbourne should be metal’s first two-time inductee; he’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer as a member of Sabbath, but his solo career holds up as well. But really, most metal fans would rather his late guitarist Randy Rhoads, who died in an airplane crash in 1982 at the age of 25, was inducted. Although he only played on two of Ozzy’s albums—1980’s Blizzard of Ozz and 1981’s Diary of a Madman—his playing on those albums altered the course of metal, bringing speed and classical precision into the mix. He’d have to be inducted in the “Award for Musical Excellence” category, which has been given to Ringo Starr and the E Street Band in recent years. But Tom Morello, who named his son Rhoads, and is on the Hall of Fame’s nominating committee, told Radio.com that he is campaigning heavily for Randy, so maybe this will be his year.
Slayer – OK, we’re breaking our own rule here: Slayer arrived on the scene about the same time as Metallica. But hey, metal is about breaking the rules, man! Metallica, like Black Sabbath, have experimented with different sounds over the years, and have even on occasion seemed to cater to popular taste, that’s never been the case with Slayer, who are more akin to AC/DC or the Ramones in their laser focused approach. Not every album is the classic that 1986’s Reign in Blood was, but they’ve never disappointed their fans, either. And they’re still great. Their latest, Repentless, is one of the best albums, in any genre, of 2015.
Pantera – Breaking the rule again, since Pantera came in Metallica’s wake. Coming of age in the ’90s as heavy metal was falling out of style, these guys waved the flag, with no regard for the alt-rock or any other trends. This band paid tribute to all of the others on this list, while bringing their own southern-fried flavor to the genre.