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"Heavy Metal" - attributed to William S. Burroughs - initially described excruciatingly loud late '60s acid-boogie bands such as Blue Cheer. By the turn of the '70s, British artists led by Black Sabbath were de-emphasizing rock's blues element, while figuring out how to make feedback, distortion, riffs and rhythm feel heavier still.

As the '80s began, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal crews such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest had begun divorcing the genre from Hard Rock entirely, giving metal its own language and dress code. The '80s saw Thrash speed tempos up into unprecedented aggressiveness even as the hair metal bands monopolizing MTV turned things poppier.

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