By Jason Hillenburg
Ditch your preconceived notions about "heavy metal" at the door, though some of the conventional narrative holds true. By the dawn of the 1980's, an array of tragedies felled the genre's first wave of titans. Deep Purple turned blue in 1976, Sabbath fired Ozzy in 1979, and doubt shrouded Led Zeppelin's future. It is here the conventional narrative runs off the rails. The inordinate focus placed on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and burgeoning glam scene in Los Angeles obscures the larger reality. Outfits like Exodus, Armored Saint, Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax gleaned much from Sabbath and their English successors, but a populist American approach and strains of punk music informed their early efforts. Other bands like the reconstituted Pentagram and Saint Vitus debuted with primitive masterpieces influenced by punk music as well, but carried Master of Reality-era Sabbath's trademark tempos and dense, detuned riffing to darker sonic worlds than their English heroes had dared to travel. The signatures of this side of the American metal are as indelible on our musical culture of today as the congruent movements that flourished, though perhaps not as fashionable or profitable..