The English band Napalm Death coined the term "blast beat", though this style of drumming had previously been practiced by others. Daniel Ekeroth argues that the blast beat was first performed by the Swedish group Asocial on their 1982 demo. D.R.I. (1983, "No Sense"), Sepultura (1985, track 11, "Antichrist"), S.O.D. (1985, track 11, "Milk"), Sarcófago (1986, track 10, "Satanas"), and Repulsion also included the technique prior to Napalm Death's emergence. Rockdetector contributor Garry Sharpe-Young credits D.R.I.'s Eric Brecht as the first on their 1983 debut but credits Napalm Death with making it better known. AllMusic contributor Thom Jurek credits Tony Williams of Trio of Doom as the "true inventor of the blastbeat" in 1979.
There are instances of jazz drummers incorporating blast beat patterns prior to the 1970s.Bill Ward of Black Sabbath can be seen playing a brief blast beat in a 1970 performance of "War Pigs." Additionally, drummer Carl Palmer of the progressive rock super-group Emerson, Lake & Palmer briefly used a blast beat in the band's 1970 instrumental "The Barbarian". King Crimson's "The Devil's Triangle" from their 1970 album In the Wake of Poseidon also features an early example of proto-blastbeats in the later half of the song. However, the blast beat as it is known today originated in the European hardcore and grindcore scenes in the 1980s. Contrary to popular belief, blast beats originated from punk and hardcore music, not metal music. In the UK punk and hardcore scene of the early 1980s there were many bands attempting to play as fast as possible. In 1985 emerging grindcore band Napalm Death replaced their former drummer Miles "Rat" Ratledge with Mick Harris, who brought to the band a whole new level of speed. Harris became the official drummer of Napalm Death and is credited with developing the term "blast beat", describing the fast notes played on the kick and snare. Harris started using the blast beat as a fundamental aspect of Napalm Death's early musical compositions. It was finally with Napalm Death's first full-length album Scum (1987) that blast beat started to evolve into a distinct musical expression of its own. Blast beats became popular in extreme music from the mid to late 1980s . The blast beat evolved into its modern form as it was developed in the American death metal and grindcore scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pete Sandoval, drummer of Terrorizer (1986–1989) and later Morbid Angel (1984–2013), purportedly was the first to use blast beats in metronomic time (and not as arhythmic or non-metric white noise) and thus gave it a more useful musical characteristic for timekeeping.
Blast beats eventually appeared in commercially successful metal music, beginning with Fear Factory's album Demanufacture (1995) and Slipknot's album Iowa (2001).