'Led Zeppelin III'
"Albumwise, it usually takes a year for people to catch up with what we're doing," Page told Rolling Stone in 1975. But listeners needed at least a decade to fully absorb the stylistic change-ups on Led Zeppelin III. The elephant-balled blues rock that had defined Zeppelin's sound was now tempered down, replaced by a heady strain of wispy, mystic folk rock. Even the album cover was more laid-back, with the band's trademark down-in-flames Hindenburg imagery replaced by a trippy collage of butterflies and smiling teeth.
It would be a stretch to think of III as Zeppelin's "mature" album – this is, after all, a record that opens with a first-person tale of Nordic conquest – but, at the very least, it proved they could write songs that match the depth and emotion- al power of the blues and folk they loved and borrowed from. "The third album was the album of albums," Plant would later say. "If anybody had us labeled as a heavy-metal group, that destroyed them."
– Brian Rafferty