Is this the first metal band? (no, it’s not The fucking Beatles)
Upon occasion, The Toilet attempts to answer life’s big questions. Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? Who invented heavy metal? Today, we’re talking one of those quandaries.
As a music nerd, it is your duty to constantly argue with other music nerds about the true origin of the things you like. This is a hell of your own making. You were born here, you will die here. Plenty of names get tossed around when we discuss the fountainhead of heavy metal. Some say Jimi Hendrix was the firestarter with “Purple Haze” and its jarringly heavy guitar lines. Others say Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath due to their occult imagery and hard blues rock tones. If you’re Lou Reed, you might argue that you invented heavy metal in the process of inventing noise. Most likely, heavy metal was formed somewhere between The Who, Blue Cheer, and any number of long-forgotten weirdos cranking out strung out jams in their garage. Only one thing is certain: The Beatles had jack shit to do with heavy metal.
Inevitably, some worthless dork will pipe up and claim that The Beatles somehow invented metal. They didn’t, of course, but good luck convincing a Baby Boomer that John Lennon didn’t also invent the sitar.
If you wanna pat The Beatles on the back for something they deserve, thank them for popularizing protest songs for liberals that are too rich to care about anything. For the rest of us that wanna listen to more than one band in our lifetimes, there’s Cromagnon.
Cromagnon’s sole record, Orgasm, was released all the way back in ’69 (nice), and the strange, violent tracks within call to mind bands like Throbbing Gristle and The Residents. Among certain circles, many believe that Orgasm was the first industrial album. Among circles involving Toilet ov Hell founders, I believe that Orgasm‘s opening song (and only real “song” on the record) is the true origin of metal.
Driven by booming percussion, overdriven guitars, and a goddamn bagpipe, “Caledonia” is the essence of extreme metal. Featuring some of the harshest vocals you could hear for decades, it can easily be considered, on sonics alone, the earliest instance of black metal in music. I’m not kidding. Give this a listen.
This is completely unlike any of the common contenders in the running for first metal band. Cromagnon had riffs. They had experimentation. They had harsh vocals and weird, scary music. “Caledonia” is the entire history of heavy metal in one song written almost 50 years ago.
Orgasm, at the time considered “freak-out music”, is nothing at all like the popular rock music of the late 60s. While nothing else on Orgasm quite captures the bravado of “Caledonia”, several other cuts on the record are well worth your curiosity. “Ritual Feast Of The Libido” is a cacophony of vomiting vocals that surely inspired a number of long-haired men to try out gutturals. “Organic Sundown” is a clattering of pots n’ pans percussion featuring men forcefully screaming “SLEEP” at the listener, not unlike Jeremy Piven’s drunken rage at David Spade in the film PCU.
If you’d like more info on Cromagnon, I highly suggest you read their profile over at The Weirdest Band in the World. Listen to the full record below, and let us never again utter the words “Metal” and “The Beatles” in the same sentence.