Tape Wyrm IX: Proto Metal Playlist Tape Wyrm IX: Proto Metal Playlist

La Belle Époque

Aside from enjoying most extreme varieties of heavy metal, it is important to dig deep into the past and pay tribute to primordial beginnings. As discussed in Tape Wyrm I, heavy metal is not only an umbrella term for all varieties of metal but also a historic era for a broad scope of heavy rock music released in the years 1965-1980. Before the explosion of underground subgenres, heavy metal was a description applied to various styles of music including krautrock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock and hard rock. In contemporary times where subgenre and specific style plays an enormous role in a band’s development, it is exciting to reminisce on the antebellum days where the sheer level of intensity was the only thing which mattered.

If one could think of this time as a frontier style boom town, it would be oddly fitting. There were few rules regarding style, content and image. The early 70’s was a time when science fiction and occultism were used along side of more common themes like love and optimism. It was a time when the distinction between the mainstream and underground did not hold the same connotations as today. It was also a time which is now heavily romanticized for its uncomplicated existence. The heavy metal of the early 70’s is rooted in many conflicting concepts such as insular escapism, cultural rebellion and partial mainstream recognition. “Metalheads” as we know the term today had little if no weight in the early 70’s. Heavy metal was a blooming style which no one, at the time, would know where it would lead. The nexus of styles holds an undeniable interest when absorbing yourself in limitless possibility. My fascination with proto-metal is partially derived from a strange delusion involving me being alive in the early 70’s — high on psychedelics and surrounded by fantasy comics, amazing records and a deep sense of joy.

Once again, I am going to assume a lot of things. For this article, I am to discuss some of my favorite heavy metal records. For the sake of treading on ground already trampled to death, I am going to assume the reader has already been familiarized with some of the more popular records. While, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple and Rainbow played an enormous role in heavy metal’s development, there were other bands which existed at the same time. History favors the neat and tidy and other bands with less of an influence or establishment are forgotten. These are the bands you might have missed or glanced over in your academic study. For those reader with access to Spotify, you can listen to full albums from each of the highlighted bands plus others not included on the list. For now, let us retire to the rumpus room for some serious time with these records. Grab the chips. It is going to be a long night.
 

Kaptain Carbon’s Protometal Playlist Via SPOTIFY

 
 

Coven – Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls (1969)

Alright so here we begin. It is true that things were moving into a dark direction but one folk group would completely jump the dark shark before everyone was ready. Coven was a Midwestern psychedelic group who, for their debut, produced an album dedicated to the dark lord – Beelzebub. No seriously, they loved Satan. The use of inverted crosses, pentagrams and lyrics of ritual sacrifice were first deployed in Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls. Now, what is the funniest part about Coven? They were still a folk driven psych rock band. The lyrics “Choke, Choke, Choke, Devils Wings Evoke” are best heard from a Jefferson Airplane derivation. Coven shows us the missing link between psych rock and later heavy metal with humorous effects. Coven’s debut is also noted for a 13 minute Satanic ceremony at the end of the record. If some of you are doubting how far a 1969 psych rock band would go in their devotion to satanism will be hilariously surprised. “Satanic Mass” has all the best parts of mystery radio combined with bizarre occultism. Your soul cannot afford to miss this record.
 
Jacula – In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum (1969)

Black Sabbath’s 1970 debut is usually considered the definitive starting point for heavy metal. While seeds existed before hand, Black Sabbath put all the elements of towntuned guitar distortion and dark thematic lyrics in place. Jacula’s In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum is not a contender in the field of “first heavy metal album” rather first ambient drone metal album created decades before everyone else. Rooted heavily in progressive rock, Jacula’s debut is usually chalked up to a weird mistake which has been subsequently buried under the sands of time. If one was looking to begin their proto-metal education, Jacula is not the place to start. In fact, Jacula is usually enjoyed with a healthy appreciation for the avant-garde as well as dark experimental music. In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum is noted for its use of dark ominous organ over top of distorted guitar riffs. The style and cover mimics the underground aesthetics of extreme metal which would eventually bloom in the early 1980’s. Whether or not the album amounts to anything other than a weird Italian experiment which perhaps had no bearing on later developments is of course arguments for the internet.
 
Uriah Heep – Very ‘eavy…Very ‘Umble (1970)

I would have left Uriah Heep along with the other “popular” bands but then again, it’s Uriah Heep. Now considered a classic, the album was hated by critics during its release. A quote by Rolling Stone reviewer Mellisa Mills famously states “If this record is successful, I suppose I’ll have to commit suicide.” Uriah Heep launched the heavy progressive psych into the mainstream gaining high chart success in Italy and Germany. Very ‘eavy…Very ‘Umble, along with Black Sabbath’s 1970 Paranoid divorced heavy metal from its blues roots, marrying it with radio friendly vocals. Uriah Heep is a prime example of a hard rock band generally grouped together with heavy metal before strict specifications. The album is a progressive wonderland of heavy riffs and anthemic vocals. It is the Heep. What more do you want me to say.
 
Atomic Rooster – Death Walks Behind You (1970)

What an awesome cover. Atomic Rooster is the work of Vincent Crane who was the organist for the late 60’s dark psych outfit the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Aurthur Brown not only sewed seeds for heavy metal but inspired the corpse paint look which would later be adopted by Alice Cooper and black metal in the late 1980’s. After Arther Brown, Crane went onto create Atomic Rooster, a more level headed heavy metal band who desperately needs to be recognized. Following up more progressive debut, Death Walks Behind You is not only recognized as a the bands most popular record but a triumph in heavy metal’s formation. There is a dark and ominous spirit with Death Walks Behind You. Much like the title suggests, the entire record coveys a creeping coldness behind blistering psych jams.
 
Lucifer’s Friend – Lucifers Friend (1970)

Germany is often overlooked in the development of heavy metal despite the krautrock being firmly rooted in the hard rock. In fact, I could have done this whole article on Germany’s hand in heavy metals formation. Lucifer’s Friend was the 1970 debut for the progressive psych outfit and pulled no punches in its delivery. The band would eventually go onto a long systematic decline into jazz fusion and terrible middle of the road hard rock. For this time, at least, they rocked so much harder than everyone else. Along with Led Zeppelin and about a dozen other heavy metal bands, Lucifer’s Friend is only available, on Spotify, in pieces. For any fans of Judas priest or fast paced heavy metal in general should not let this release go unnoticed. Lucifer’s Friend should be enjoyed, for the sheer fact it tried to incorporate the French horn into the music.


 
Sir Lord Baltimore – Kingdom Come (1970)

Sir Lord Baltimore is slowly receiving some much needed attention. Kingdom Come was the debut for this NYC based band and stands as not only an early pioneer in the field of heavy metal but one of the earliest stoner rock/metal releases. Kingdom Come would be followed by the underwhelming self titled sophomore release and nearly 30 years of silence. Kingdom Come has an obvious defect which is its lack of production. The lo-fidelity in this record is apparent but has eventually become an lasting quality. The sheer intensity of “Hell Hound” and the psychotic acid jams of “Helium Head” work when played through broken speakers. I do not like this album as much as I should but this changes as soon as I play the title track. Fuck yeah guys…keep doing what you are doing.

 
Dust – Dust (1971)

Dust is different in the fact they only existed for the span of four years. Their 1971 debut would be followed by the equally great Hard Attack and then nothing. The most successful member of dust was Marky Bell, later known as Markey Ramone (not related) who would play drums in the punk group The Ramones. Dust would later receive recognition with the interest of long forgotten heavy metal. Dust, in retrospect, possesses unrecognized classics such as the near 10 minute epic “From A Dry Camel” as well as the why-isn’t-this-on-the-radio “Love Me Hard.” I sometimes shudder at the thought of the near hundred great heavy metal bands forgotten under the weight of neglect. I clutch my Dust vinyls a little closer during those nights.
 
Budgie – Budgie (1971)

Alright, let us discuss Budgie. Do not let the frilly, bird riding warrior on the cover fool you, this debut from Welsh proto-speed rockers well worth anyone’s attention. Budgies work, along with Judas Priest would later influence the uptempo New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Before the career defining “Breadfan” single, Budgie lavished itself with doom laden blues. Budgie’s debut is home to some of the band’s most precious and undiscovered classics. “Guts” and “Homicidal Suicidal” maybe the most popular songs on the record yet the quality of “The Author,” and the oddly titled “Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman” cannot be ignored. Budgie is also known for vocalist Blake Shelley’s amazing style which included large prescription glasses and long hair. While this bookish look possibly counteracts the Robert Plant idea of a sexy front man, Shelley’s look was similar to another long hair bass player — namely Geddy Lee the vocalist for Rush. That’s right ladies…form a line over there.
 
Night Sun – Mournin’ (1972)

Night Sun will forever live among the titans and early deserters in the one record club. 1972′ Mournin’ was the only record recorded before the band members dissipated into thing German air. Literally, I cant track down any member besides a mention of Bruno Schaab playing in some zany krautrock project. This is a shame because out of every record on this list, Night Sun’s Mournin’ is near the heaviest. This sense of heavy is executed through a strong base of progressive rock. Germany during the early 70’s yielded various styles of experimental music. Electronic, Krautrock, space rock and heavy prog. Much like a slightly less drunk version of Zeppelin, Night Sun wails through the album with a goddamn sense of purpose. If the combination of blues jamming and progressive noodling does not entice the reader, then the sole recommendation for the song “Come Down” must be made. Few times has a heavy metal song come to the level of greatness which Night Sun has accomplished. Much like the featured track, the rest of Mournin is full of emotion, sinister undertones and an enjoyable presentation.
 
JPT Scare Band – Sleeping Sickness (comp) (1973-1976)

The very fact, The JPT Scare Band is finally receiving recognition is heart warming. In the early 70’s, three Midwestern friends got together and recorded their blues heavy basement jams. These teenage wastoids named their band after the first letter in each of their names and begun decades of dark acid rock. These jams would not see the light of day until the early 90’s when Monster Records unearthed the reel to reel recordings and transferred them to vinyl. Sleeping Sickness is the third volume released and is the first time this music has seen a digital release. If anyone is looking for an raw vignette into the days of early heavy metal, The JPT Scare Band is an obvious choice. JPT Scare Band begun on earth and soon traversed time and space leaving all material possessions and reasonable song length behind. The style explored range from the predictable heavy metal but soon expanded into psych rock, noise and even funk. If you needed a reason to melt into that couch whilst cradling a glass bong, I can see no other alternative.
 
Pentagram – First Daze Here (comp) (1972-1974)

And here we have yet another compilation from a band who never released anything till much….much later. Pentagram is usually recognized as a pioneer in the doom style of heavy metal but not for their string of records released in the mid 80’s. Pentagram is popular for being an early innovator despite the fact of never releasing a damn record in the 70’s. The band was plagued with management issues as well as general neglect being a doom band in 1970’s Northern Virginia. If the band was actually a group of time travelers, then their attempt to capitalize on the past went horribly wrong. First Daze Here is a Relapse Records compilation collecting early Pentagram recordings. While this material saw marginal distribution with the Peace Records comp 1972-1979, the Relapse release is generally considered the definitive version due to full authorization by the band. Pentagram was a band out of place and out of time. Their string of records in the mid 80’s still does not live up to the promise of their early work. These are the woes of doomed time travelers.
 
Scorpions – In Trance (1975)

This last entry is only on here because it is fucking awesome. Before “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” Scorpions underwent a metamorphosis from strange krautrock to arena size hard rock. Scorpion’s contribution to heavy metal is undeniable and the reason why you do not own one of their records is near criminal. In 1975, this German band released In Trance which is not only a gigantic leap in a heavy metal style but it crystallized a point between heavy riffs and pop sensibilities. It is also one of the best heavy metal records of the 1970’s. This may sound like a bold statement but I am prepared to defend this accusation with a goddamn battle axe. At least three Pinpoint staffers have been hospitalized becasue they made jest regarding Scoprions legacy. The cover for In Trance was the first release in a train of records to be brought under criticism for inappropriate sexual content. In Trance merely shows a female breast and a questionable act being preformed on a guitar. This is nowhere near the level of tenacity which would be displayed a year later with the cover for Virgin Killer. What the fuck guys. Seriously. Questionable album covers aside, Scorpions in the early 70’s were unstoppable. 1975 was the peak of heavy metal and it lives in this record. Do not make me go apeshit and jump over this table.

The Spotify playlist includes much more records including obvious and obscure releases not included on this list. I will be updating the playlist each time I stumble onto an unearthed release. Readers can subscribe to this playlist as it will bea digital version of me coming over to your house with an arm full of vinyl. If you will now excuse me, I have some Conan comics and a large beanbag chair in desperate need of attention.
 

Recent Recommendations

Rwake – Rest

Alright, slightly stupid band name but 2 minutes into Rest and the listener is slightly petrified of ever thinking anything but good thoughts regarding this band. Rwake is massive. Rwake has been making music since the late 90’s. Rwake is also from Little Rock, Arkansas. Arkansa, surprisingly is home to a growing majority of doom and sludge bands. Rest is the second Relapse release for Rwake and continues the band’s obsession with planetary astronomy and obliteration. These sludge cadets are far more spacey than their southern counterparts as well as more frighting in their delivery. They can name themselves whatever they want. Seriously, I want no trouble.

Evile – Five Serpent’s Teeth

Sometimes, I think I do not give enough credit to other forms of extreme metal being played in contemporary society. While my personal tastes rests in the sludge, black and occasional death territory there are other great releases which occasionally go unnoticed. Take for example Evile, a British thrash band who is preparing their third record on the very venerable Earache records. Thrash metal, unlike its sibling subgenres has not gone through massive progression since the early 80’s. Aside from occasional leaps (Vektor, Toxic Holocaust, Skeletonwitch), thrash has tried desperately to recreate its beginnings. This stagnates the genre into becoming a throwback style unable to move forward. Evile is not a progressive leap forward rather one of the best leaps backwards. Evile gives listeners a chance to travel back to a time when thrash played ruler over a great heavy metal empire. This band does not even break a sweat in their recreation of 1985. I would get up on my high metal horse and discuss reasons why a genre should be always moving forward but I find myself occupied doing the haircopter.

Vader- Welcome to the Morbid Reich

Alright. Fuck yeah. Fuck yeah. If I could raise my heavy metal glass to one band that does not get enough attention it is Vader. This Polish death metal band has been slowly gaining attention and respect due to their tireless journey through the 90’s and 00’s. Instead of slowly fading out of existence, Vader has become tighter and more mean throughout the years. The band has also been nominated for the Fryderk Heavy Metal album of the year six times which has always resulted in six consecutive defeats. Goddamn it people, will someone give Vader a statue before their albums become more hate fueled? There should be no reasoning or intellectual indoctrinations for Vader. They are not apart of any new upstart fringe metal genre nor have any other reason for being here other than to drag you to hell. They are not open to discussion rather everything that should be heard.



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