The 1980's also saw the fragmentation of the metal market into a wide variety of sub-genres and niches. In most cases, only a metal devotee would know the distinctions; a non-metal-head would file all under "noise". However, the distinctions are important to the metalhead; death metal, thrash, progressive metal, hair metal and others in the 1980's; doom-metal, stoner metal, sludge metal, Scandinavian metal, and rap metal in the 1990's.
A key occurrence in the heavy metal time line was the emergence of grunge in the early 1990's. Grunge was a crucial development because it bridged the always-unbridgeable gulf between metal and punk. Metal bands took punk's DIY ethic, and rawness of performance, and applied it to their power riffs, often slowing the music back down to Black Sabbath tempo. Alice In Chains and Soundgarden are prime examples of grunge-metal, which became a staple on alternative rock radio through the mid-90's.
Heavy metal remains today a massively fragmented market, but if all the fragments are taken together, it is still huge. Its future seems relatively assured; there will always be a market for volume and escape, as long as there are teenagers. Heavy metal's highest points are as worthy of listen as any other genre; its low points help keep rock music interesting.
Some important/influential heavy metal artists/songs include:
1. Led Zeppelin: Dazed And Confused
"Dazed And Confused", the genre-defining crazed amplified blues from Led Zeppelin's self-titled 1969 debut, actually had been part of the New Yardbirds' stage show in 1968. The genesis of Led Zeppelin had its roots in the Yardbirds, whom Jimmy Page joined in 1966. Their 1967 album, Little Games, featured Page and had strings arranged by John Paul Jones. Page and Jones also played on "Hurdy Gurdy Man", a Donovan single released in 1968. The Yardbirds disbanded in 1968 when Keith Relf and Jim McCarty left the band; Page was left with bassist Chris Dreja and the rights to the Yardbirds' name. Page planned to hire Terry Reid as vocalist, but Reid was unavailable and suggested Robert Plant instead. Dreja left to pursue other projects, and John Paul Jones came in on bass. John Bonham came aboard at Plant's suggestion; he had drummed for Plant in the past. In September 1968, the Page-Plant-Jones-Bonham lineup played a series of gigs as the New Yardbirds; they recorded an album together in 30 hours in October. Their name was Led Zeppelin when they signed with Atlantic, and their debut became the biggest seller in Atlantic history in 1969 (eclipsing former record holder Iron Butterfly). "Dazed and Confused" is surely one of their greatest moments; each band member gets a chance to shine, and the song's guitar and vocal blasts are what heavy metal is all about.