Is this the first metal band? (no, it’s not The fucking Beatles)

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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.

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  • KJM, Satan’s Onion

    I guess Ozzy, Peter Steele, and Lars Ulrich are a bunch of “stupid dorks” then…

  • HessianHunter

    While I appreciate the slaughtering of golden calves here, Helter Skelter is totally a proto-metal song, although obviously not the first by a long shot.

    • GrumpDumpus

      HELTER SKELTER BLEW OUT MY MIND WHEN I WAS SIX AND DEFINITELY SEEMED CRAZY HEAVY

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        COOL STORY GRAMPS

        • GrumpDumpus

          THANKS BLUNT CUBICLE

    • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

      Plus the riff sounded killer when it got sampled by Skinny Puppy in “Worlock”

    • https://youtu.be/mPZ2giEVSug

      This came out in ’69. That is definitely Doom metal if I’ve ever heard it…

      • Lord of Bork

        I was always curious if this was them making fun of Led Zeppelin, what with the guitars-imitating-vocals-imitating-guitars bit.

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        EXCELLENT BOOK ABOUT THAT SONG: The Story of the Beatles’ Last Song by James Woodall

  • HessianHunter

    This shit is dope tho

  • Yeah, but what about when John Lennon made his guitar feedback for like a second at the beginning of “I Feel Fine”? Surely that means he invented any and all noise genres, if not heavy metal as well.

  • Dubby Fresh

    Ringo Starr invented doom drumming.

    • Ringo is either described as a total dope on the drums, or as a wizard level genius, nothing in between.

      • HessianHunter

        Nuance is unamerican, by dammit

      • Count_Breznak

        Therefore Ringo invented Lars Ullrich.

  • Pretty heavy!

    But…

    “She’s Got A Ticket To Ride and The Bitch Don’t Care, Man”

    https://vimeo.com/8904532

    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      She loves you man

  • I have to wonder if listening to this would be better under some kind of influence of drugs.

    • God

      It absolutely would

    • Lord of Bork

      The answer to that question, no matter the subject, is almost always a firm yes.

  • Joaquin Stick

    When other bands thank The Beatles, it’s kinda like when an athlete thanks god for their win. In reality there is no actual connection, but it’s just something they think they have to do.

    • 10/10

    • Isn’t that the same in the modern sense for Metallica?

      *frrrrp*

      • Howard Dean

        Yeah but Metallica were actually good at one point.

        • But neither of us were around when each was making their own cultural impact. So I am not sure a “good” or “not good” argument makes sense.

          • Howard Dean

            Dude, I’m 68 years old. I was at fucking Woodstock!

          • Brutalist_Receptacle

            “To get back to the warning that I received. You may take it with however many grains of salt that you wish. That the brown acid that is circulating around us isn’t too good. It is suggested that you stay away from that. Of course it’s your own trip. So be my guest, but please be advised that there is a warning on that one, ok?”

  • God

    Dude if you showed this to me blind, I would not guess 69′ at all. This is fucking cool.

  • GoatForest

    When my little brother showed me this about seven years ago, it blew my mind.

  • https://youtu.be/mPZ2giEVSug

    Came out in ’69. Is definitely Doom metal.

  • Freedom Jew

    C’mon.. Lennon was an ableist, homophobic wife-beater but its cool because songs.

    It’s obvious that he DID invent metal.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      Fuck John Lennon. He’s a garbage human being and he deserve credit for nothing.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan
  • Stockhausen

    I never, EVER would have guessed this was 1969. I’d guess it was an early Oranssi Pazuzu demo. Rad.

    • Major Zim

      I grew up around the hippies who started the very first renaissance faire, and I can guarantee you that this is what their bad trips sound like. If I had found this as a teenager, I wouldn’t have listened to anything else for a year.

  • Pagliacci is Kvlt

    Some of the harshest vocals you’ll hear for decades? Nah, that’s not even the harshest vocal of ’69.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ewe–VrKMrE

    • Major Zim

      Holy shit that was awesome.

  • SomeGuyDude

    Cactus’s Rumblin’ Man was the same year and ABSOLUTELY a metal song. If anything, the first truly metal song.

  • David Lee Hrothgar
  • scramopolis

    Not saying the Beatles invented “Heavy Metal”, but the fact that Helter Skelter came out in 1968 and this in 1969 pretty much invalidates your argument.

    Please try again

    • The two things sound absolutely nothing alike. Delete your comment and try again.