#1: BLACK SABBATH
It might be tempting for some people to argue that if Black Sabbath hadn’t created metal, someone else would have; or, worse still, that Black Sabbath didn’t create metal, but just the natural end of a lineage that started with artists like Led Zep, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix and their ilk. But that’s nonsense. There can be little doubt that Sabbath was certainly influenced by those predecessors, but the situation surrounding a key component of what Sabbath did – namely, tune their instruments way the fuck down to get that deep, evil sound we all know and love – was came about due to such a specific set of circumstances, it is entirely fair to argue that if Tony Iommi had never lost pieces of a few fingers in a factory accident, if he hadn’t had to tune his guitar way down just so he could bend the strings, well, metal as we know might not exist at all. Of course, there are other elements to Sabbath and metal that go beyond Iommi’s guitar sound, but would Ozzy Osbourne’s bleak lyrical world view or the band’s foreboding imagery really have fit with the world’s umpteenth Led Zep rip-off? Black Sabbath were ostensibly a happy accident – a mixture of right time/right place luck and a strong artistic vision. Without Sabbath, I might very well never have started writing for a site called MetalSucks under the name “Axl Rosenberg,” but, rather, for a site called Hip-HopisWhack under the name “Ice Berg.” To some extent or another, Black Sabbath is the reason we are all here.
Which is exactly why they have the top spot on this list.
Of course, everything that came after Sabbath isn’t Sabbath’s fault; I’m sure if Geezer Butler ever hears something like Pig Destroyer or Necrophagist, his reaction is closer to “What the fuck is that?” than “Oh, those kids are still borrowing from us forty years later.” Metal has obviously evolved (or devolved, depending on your point of view) quite a bit since Sabbath.
But when you trace back, all roads lead to Sabbath. Every band in every subgenre of metal, without exception, owes Sabbath a debt. If you’ve ever like any metal song ever, you can thank Black Sabbath; and if you’ve ever hated any metal song ever, you can thank Black Sabbath. It’s a bitter-sweet leaf, but somebody’s gotta smoke it.
THE REST OF THE LIST: