By: Nicholas Pell
Ok, we get it. You like Sabbath. Everyone does. But there's a whole big world out there of '70s metal bands that goes beyond Sabbath — even beyond Sir Lord Baltimore, if you can believe that. The '70s offered so much in the way of doom-and-gloom heaviness that it's criminal so many stop with Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and that other guy. If you're out of high school and still think Vol. 4 is the pinnacle of human heavy metal achievement, it's time to get with the program.
5. Highway Robbery
Highway Robbery's debut, For Love or Money, is almost entirely devoid of meandering bluesiness. Instead, there is a deafening heaviness. The power trio had every reason to believe they'd be the next big thing: They shared a management company with Little Feat and The Weather Report and were in-house favorites. Record execs forced them to add a couple potential hits — "Bells" and "All I Need (To Have Is You)" — but the album basically went nowhere, despite an unrelenting onslaught of furious riffing and surprising tunefulness.
Where To Start: They only cut the one record, so For Love or Money is it.
Cleveland's Poobah played under-appreciated nuggets of rock and roll, tying acid-addled Chuck Berry shuffling to the psychedelic meanderings of the late 1960s. The band, still gigging today, boast both a healthy boogie sensibility ("Rock N Roll" and "Live To Work") and a wicked sense of humor, displayed on talking interludes between songs long before they were de rigueur in the world of hip-hop.
Where To Start: Their debut album, Let Me In, is the perfect soundtrack for Sunday afternoon knife hits.
Granicus are also from Cleveland, which speaks to the teeming underground rock scene the city once boasted. Besides, what else are you going to do there but smoke a grip of dope, play loud, heavy rock and roll and dream of getting the hell out? Granicus boasted impressively heavy riffs and a singer who screeched like a combination of Ozzy and Stevie Nicks, but somehow you've never heard of them until right now.
Where To Start: The self-titled debut is perhaps the best slice of punk psychedelia on tap from 1973.
Budgie might be the king of unsung 1970s rock bands. Covered by both Van Halen and Metallica, Budgie are one of the most influential bands you're unfamiliar with. Along with Motörhead and Judas Priest, Budgie were one of the main reference points for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. This was the movement that fused metal with the intensity and authenticity of punk rock, eliminating the lingering trappings of psychedelia and blues. Budgie, however, were doing all this years before the army of punters existed, making them criminally unknown in the United States — though apparently they were huge in Texas.
Where To Start: If nothing else, If I Were Britannia I'd Waive the Rules is the most clever album title in history. The parakeets in space suits on the cover don't hurt either.
The screeching guitars of Bang are better than anything in '70s metal. "Lions, Christians" is a creepy crawl through the burnt-out remnants of 1960s counterculture. "Questions" expresses an often unexplored sentiment: "Questions all around me / Questions bring me down." The rhythm guitar tracks sound like Frank Glicken is using a tin can lid for a pick. The lead riffs are catchy, but strangely unique — you'll love them, but you've never quite heard anything like them before. The cover art of their debut album is worth the price of admission alone. So be ready to pay: This and the other records mentioned on this list are rare, though repressings are often available.
Where To Start: The band's self-titled debut shows why 1971 was a high water mark for acid-addled doom rock heaviness.