Top 7 Metal Bands of the 1970s

By the 1970s, heavy metal was in its infancy. By the end of the decade, it was a full-fledged phenomenon, side-swiping rock and roll with fast and loud sounds that assaulted the ear and made the world take notice.

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Metal is what it is today thanks to the bands that came before and pioneered a sound that can still be heard in the acts of the day. Below are seven metal bands of the 1970s who blazed the trail.


When they first stepped onto the rock scene in the early 1970s, few would probably guess KISS would still be rocking today–50 years later. An eye-grabbing group with their painted faces and flamboyant stagewear, the band rose to prominence as some of metal’s early trailblazers. Inventive with their blood-spewing, fire-breathing on-stage theatrics, it was their hard-rocking anthems that first captured hearts.

6. Scorpions

Before their 1984 hit “Rock You Like a Hurricane” swept the globe, Scorpions were pioneers of metal in the 1970s. The German hard rockers, known initially for their ripping arrangements and ear-shattering vocals, have evolved greatly since their inception. However, at their core, Scorpions will always be metal.

They have been cited as major influences to many hard rock and metal acts that followed them, including Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, Metallica, and Megadeth.

5. Rush

Canadian rock trio Rush may have flirted with prog-rock, but their roots were metal. An atypical metal outfit with an atypical sound, Rush produced atmospheric songs with intricate storytelling woven in. They were never a band that fit into a mold and what’s more metal than that?

4. Deep Purple

Deep Purple may be best known for their thundering anthem “Smoke on the Water,” but the English rockers should be recognized among metal’s forefathers, as well. They helped to define heavy metal in its fledgling days, producing roaring riff-riddled hits that still echo today.

3. Judas Priest

Among the ranks of the greatest metal bands, Judas Priest entered the 1970s with chains, leather, and an in-your-face sound. They were innovative, producing some of the heaviest music of the decade and, in turn, pioneering a style of metal that can still be heard today.

Judas Priest has influenced so many metal acts with many of them even borrowing their band names from the Judas Priest catalog.

2. Motörhead

Loud and proud, the biker-chic rock outfit Motörhead was another definitive metal act of the 1970s. Their sound broke ground as they shook up the rock genre with hard and ferocious arrangements that rumbled with speed, power, and grit.

1. Black Sabbath

Since the dawn of heavy metal, Black Sabbath and the genre have seemed to go hand-in-hand, the two forever coupled in conversation. Armed with rock and roll on-stage antics and the music to back it up, there is no end to the band’s influence on metal and on the bands that came up after. Having inspired the likes of Slayer, Mayhem, Anthrax, and so many more, the genre will forever echo the sounds of Black Sabbath.

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