Doom metal was a total accident, an accident involving blood and steel and grey northern skies, but still the result of one guy fucking up. Anthony ‘Tony’ Iommi, working at a sheet metal factory in Birmingham, England, cut the tips off his ring and middle finger on his right hand. His guitar playing days were over. He wasn’t willing to start over with his left hand. However, he learned that Django Reinhardt, jazz legend, had suffered a similar injury and developed a way of playing with only two fingers. Still, playing hurt. Thin-gauge strings were still a ways off. He tried banjo strings and crude homemade thimbles, but the real difference came when he down tuned three semitones below standard guitar tuning. Iommi’s band, Black Sabbath, subsequently became the thickest and heaviest band around, spawning the metal genre we hold dear.
More than 40 years later, metal has differentiated into unthinkably divergent realms. However, that guitar sound – along with a few other Sabbathian standards – define doom metal. The lyrical themes of despair, dejection and the occult continue to this day.
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