Watch the History and Players online guitar lesson by Angus Clark from Focus On: British Metal
We had to narrow the definition in order to keep the course focused. It's always evolving, but there are three basic categories:
Early: Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple
Middle: (or "Bridge"): Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy
New Wave: Iron Maiden, Saxon, etc.
There's a lot of other bands that made less impact outside the UK, but we're still covering a fairly diverse bunch of bands. In the segment I talk about how the whole genre grew out of the British Blues movement which had gotten very aggressive and very loud by the late sixties. When Sabbath made it "Metal" they moved away from the strict forms, harmony, and lyrical content of the blues, but they kept the aggressiveness, volume, improvisatory nature, and the pentatonic scale. It's 50 years gone, but those first two Sabbath records are still the bible for British Metal.
So the players involved may not be the guys on the cover of your favorite gear-hawking, NAMM-friendly publications. And I figure that's a welcome change for a good number of people. It'll be Iommi, Blackmore, KK Downing and Glenn Tipton (big shoutout to Richie Faulkner who's doing a great job in Priest right now), Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, John Sykes, and others. They're a fun bunch. The playing isn't technically over the top. The playing succeeds because it rocks. And rocking will always win over technical proficiency. Always.