02 March 2019

1976 – 50 Years of Metal

It all seemed to be going on in the 70s. In 1976,The Eagles released Hotel California, Thin Lizzy brought out Jailbreak and a man called Steve Jobs founded a certain company called Apple Computers. Unbeknownst to him at the time, he would later change the way music was consumed forever. But more on that later. For now, there was one album that would add another crucial piece to the heavy metal puzzle.

Rainbow – Rising

Many wondered what guitarist Ritchie Blackmore would do after officially leaving Deep Purple. As it turns out, he wasn’t quite finished making his mark on the rock world and went on to form Rainbow. After firing most of the band he used on their debut album, Blackmore recruited bassist Jimmy Bain, keyboard player Tony Carey and drummer Cozy Powell. Completing this line up was the one member of the debut band that Blackmore didn’t fire: a certain singer named Ronnie James Dio. Dio’s legendary voice, and lyrics centred around medieval themes, had already been introduced to the wider world on Rainbow’s debut album, but it was the heavier and harder sound of Rising where he would find his calling. This combination of dark, heavy riffs and ambitious lyrical themes is now a common feature across a whole range of metal sub-genres, and much of this influence can be traced back to Rising. The likes of Tarot Woman, Run With The Wolf and Light In the Black showed a harder and more intense edge to Blackmore’s playing, but the peak of the album is undisputedly Stargazer. One of the original rock ‘epics’, this nine minute track features one of Blackmore’s best riffs, devastating drumming from Powell, and a spine-tingling delivery from Dio that would show the world just how well songs about wizards and towers of stone fitted a dark and heavy musical backdrop. Suddenly, lyrics steeped in history and fantasy were not just acceptable, but aspirational, and Dio was their chainmail clad champion.