Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, heavy metal bands developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and loudness. The lyrics and performances are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.
In 1968, three of the genre's most famous pioneers, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, were founded. Though they came to attract wide audiences, they were often derided by critics. Several American bands modified heavy metal into more accessible forms during the 1970s: the raw, sleazy sound and shock rock of Alice Cooper and Kiss; the blues-rooted rock of Aerosmith; and the flashy guitar leads and wild party rock of Van Halen. During the mid-1970s, Judas Priest helped spur the genre's evolution by discarding much of its blues influence, while Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Beginning in the late 1970s, bands in the new wave of British heavy metal such as Iron Maiden and Saxon followed in a similar vein.