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5 Essential Hard Rock / Heavy Metal Albums Celebrating 50 Years Of Existence In 2021!

50 damn years!

Whether you are man, beast or classic rock/metal album…..50 years on this planet is worth celebrating!

Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality

Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality (1995, CD) - Discogs

Black Sabbath‘s almighty third album, Master of Reality, was released on 21st July 1971 by Vertigo Records and helped to kickstart a heavy metal / doom metal / stoner rock revolution!

Home to timeless tracks which have gone on to influence anybody who is anybody in the world of doom, sludge and stoner rock/metal, the likes of “Sweet Leaf”, “Children of the Grave” and “Into The Void” have gone down in history as all-time classics.

While Black Sabbath‘s iconic debut and immediate follow-up, Paranoid, are rightfully lauded as undisputed classics, it was with Master Of Reality that Sabbath truly embraced their outsider status and let rip with an altogether bigger, heavier, down-tuned sound that would prove pivotal in heavy metal’s evolution.

A masterpiece (but then you already knew that).

Led Zeppelin – IV

Led Zeppelin – Untitled (1976, SP - Specialty Pressing, Vinyl) - Discogs

What is left to possibly say about one of the most beloved hard rock albums ever written?

The stats speak for themselves: Led Zeppelin‘s IV was a commercial and critical success and remains Led Zeppelin’s best-selling release; shipping over 37 million copies worldwide!

Regularly placed on worldwide lists as one the greatest albums of all time, this iconic, masterful album is consistent beyond belief (pick a bad track, we double-dog dare ya!) and is arguably Led Zep‘s definitive release.

Heavy metal, blues, rock n’ roll and folk were all present and the epic likes of the over-played but resolutely magnificent “Stairway to Heaven” alongside the reworking of “When The Levee Breaks” showcased a band at the peak of their powers.

Deep Purple – Fireball

Deep Purple – Fireball (1970, Vinyl) - Discogs

Fireball, the 5th album from rock royalty Deep Purple, was the second with the Mk II line-up and truly harnessed the all-consuming power of Richie Blackmore’s heavy riffs and Jon Lord’s propulsive organ (ooh err missus).

While subsequent release Machine Head (1972) would gift Deep Purple the commercial recognition they deserved, Fireball was a strong indication that the band were already operating at peak performance.

The opening self-titled track – replete with the sound of an air conditioner kicking into gear – positively blasted out of the speakers with both its proto-speed/thrash metal tendencies and Ian Paice’s frenzied drum work, while the funk-prog of “No, No, No” (often labelled as ‘filler’ which does the song a huge disservice) offered welcome diversity.

Whether you’d picked up the European version of Fireball (feat. “Demon’s Eye” as track no. 3) or the US version which swapped “Demon’s Eye” for the colossal “Strange Of Woman”, fans were left eagerly awaiting what was to come next.

And what was to come next would be monumental.

Budgie – Budgie

Budgie: Amazon.co.uk: Music

Budgie was the self-titled debut album from these Welsh heavy metallers – released in June 1971 through MCA Records – and while this virtually unsung proto-doom classic may not be as widely known, or revered, as the early material of Zeppelin, Sabbath, Purple or even Uriah Heep, Budgie should still be celebrated for its undeniable influence on countless bands throughout the decade and for its influence on heavy metal and doom metal in general!

Arguably the missing link between Black Sabbath and Rush, Budgie were forever left languishing in the shadows while lesser acts picked up the commercial and critical plaudits.

However, one listen to Budgie should quell such notions as it’s crystal clear that Budgie were a band at the forefront of the game, and with the likes of proto-doom crusher “Guts” proving to be as heavy as anything put out by Sabbath it’s a crying shame that Budgie weren’t a household name!

Uriah Heep – Look At Yourself

Uriah Heep – Look At Yourself (2014, Vinyl) - Discogs

Look at Yourself, the third studio album from British hard rock / prog rock band Uriah Heep, was released in September 1971 by Bronze Records in the UK and Mercury Records in the US.

It was to be third time lucky for Uriah Heep who, with Look at Yourself, perfected their alchemic blend of riff-driven hard rock and excursions into organ-drenched progressive bliss.

Revered as one of the finest ever releases in Heep’s formidable back catalogue, Look at Yourself has retained its charm, power and ability to consistently enthral; even after the passing of half a century!

Honourable mentions: Alice Cooper – Killer / Dust – Dust / Fuzzy Duck – Fuzzy Duck / The Groundhogs – Split / Hawkwind – In Search Of Space / Leafhound – Growers Of Mushroom / Nazareth – Nazareth / Sir Lord Baltimore – Sir Lord Baltimore

About Chris Jennings (1985 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

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