No genre really exists in a vacuum. Everybody gets their influence from somewhere, and some of the biggest genres in the world end up happening because you’re trying to match the kind of intensity that some of your favorite artists did when they first came out. Towards the end of the hippy movement though, things started to get a lot more heavy almost overnight.
After learning that the Flower Power generation didn’t have much staying power, bands started to get a lot more gutteral, with songs that had a lot more bite to them than the original British Invasion that were coming over to the States. The seeds of hard rock were starting to grow, but this was also the genesis of what we later call heavy metal. Though not all of the bands technically liked to classify themselves as metal, the foundation behind every one of these songs would go on to be used in metal going forward, from the screaming vocals to basing your entire song around a heavy as hell guitar riff.
This was a shakeup for the time, but we wouldn’t see the results until a few years down the road, when we started to see bands take these tunes and turn them into metal, from stripes of heaviness from the Sunset Strip to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that was to come. The times were changing, and rock was about to meet its nastier cousin.
10. Love It To Death - Alice Cooper
As the '60s revolution got underway, most fans were familiar with the idea of a guitar hero. Even if these rock stars may have struck fear in the hearts of parents all around the world, the kids on the ground were always rooting for their favorite artists, thinking that the likes of Lennon and McCartney or Jimi Hendrix could inspire some real change in the world. There weren't enough rock stars on the dark side though, and Alice Cooper came out looking like something straight out of your nightmares.
While the kind of macabre sentiment that Alice came across with in the early '70s may seem quaint today, seeing this kind of horrific makeup was unthinkable even in the age of glam rock. As opposed to the likes of David Bowie and Marc Bolan of T Rex, the songs on Love It To Death were not about having a good time, talking about the excesses of life on one end with I'm Eighteen along with stringing together tales from the crypt on songs like Black Juju.
There are even a few hints at where hard rock could be going in the next few years on The Ballad of Dwight Fry, where Alice talks about being restrained in a mental institution and winds up screaming towards the end of the track demanding to be let free from his straitjacket. The Rolling Stones may have brought a menace into rock and roll, and Arthur Brown may have shown us the theatrical potential of the genre, but once Alice hit the rock scene, the dark circus of heavy metal had finally come to town.