The definition of 'heavy metal' is often a contentious issue and in this lively and accessible text Andrew Cope presents a refreshing re-evaluation of the rules that define heavy metal as a musical genre. Cope investigates why, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Birmingham provided the ideal location for the evolution and early development of heavy metal and hard rock. The author considers how the influence of the London and Liverpool music scenes merged with the unique cultural climate, industry and often desolated sites of post war Birmingham to contribute significantly to the development of two unique forms of music: heavy metal and hard rock. A number of case studies are presented that illustrate how the unique synthesis of elements established by Black Sabbath have been perpetuated and developed through the work of such bands as Iron Maiden, Metallica, Pantera, Machine Head, Nightwish, Arch Enemy and Cradle of Filth. As a consequence, the importance of heavy metal as a genre of music was firmly established, and its longevity assured.