Who really invented heavy metal? Most people will say that honor belongs to Black Sabbath, but it goes quite a bit deeper than that.

In the first episode of Loudwire's ongoing "50 Years of Heavy Metal" series, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of Black Sabbath's debut album, we get to the bottom of this question with some assistance from Tony Iommi himself, Mikael Akerfedlt (Opeth), William DuVall (Alice in Chains), Matt Pike (High on Fire, Sleep), Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society, Ozzy Osbourne) and some others.

To understand the genesis of heavy metal, we need to establish its origins, which goes far beyond building upon the foundation laid down by the most thunderous of '60s rockers. It goes back decades, away from England and over to the American south, which was the hub for blues, from which all heavy music rose.

In Frank Carter's estimation, metal can be traced back to the legendary Robert Johnson "playing the blues like the devil — that's pure, unadulterated passion."

And it's Led Zeppelin who are often credited with accentuating the inherent heaviness of the blues, as noted by William DuVall when he said, "They were taking blues, which is the heaviest music ever and will remain the heaviest music ever, and they were amping it up through bigger amplifiers and they kind of gave it this attitude, this slightly different kind of swagger."

So, there was a lot of heaviness going on around the beginning of the '70s and there's the argument that Sabbath certainly had taken music to new depths of heavy, but it's Judas Priest who formulated what became the more traditional heavy metal style. Even Zakk Wylde, the world's biggest Sabbath fan, confessed that Priest are the more defining, original heavy metal group.

There's quite a bit more to unpack here, as you'll see in the full "50 Years of Heavy Metal" episode above.

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