(Guest writer Mike Yost returns to NCS with this reflection on his introduction to metal.)
It was a small music store tucked into the side of an outdoor mall just south of Hill Air Force Base, Utah. I was flipping through a stack of used CDs (remember CDs?) and found this subtle yet intriguing album cover. It had a hand-drawn picture of a solar eclipse with a diagram of our solar system labeled in Latin.
I sat on a small stool near the cashier, sticking the disk into their CD player. I pulled the headphones over my head and pushed play. A sense of gloom coiled itself tightly around my body, and I couldn’t help but smile.
Listening to Morgion’s Solinari is a bit like being dragged slowly out of a bog just before you’re pulled under. As you lay on the ground gasping for air, your faceless rescuer comforts you with sluggish tempos, mournful whispers and haunting keys.
Then the tempo quickens. Guitars grow loud and angry. The whispers mutate into indignant growls. You watch helplessly as your rescuer picks up a large rock with both hands. The music surges to its apex, and the rock comes crashing down on your chest over and over until it breaks through your ribcage.
The music then subsides. Acoustic guitars fill the void, and your rescuer tosses your broken body back into the bog, watching silently as it sinks beneath the surface.
It was the first time I heard doom/death metal. I found a bastion. A medium to purge the past.
Almost ten years earlier I stood next to my older brother in our backyard. The sun was sitting comfortably in a naked sky. Not a cloud to be seen. The wind blew hard as my mom dug a small hole. My brother was visibly annoyed, but he knew better than to say anything.
She gathered all of my brother’s cassette tapes into a pile. (Remember tapes?) Then my mom set them in the pit, coated them with lighter fluid and lit a match. As the music of Def Leppard, Huey Lewis, and a smattering of 80’s hair bands melted beneath dancing flames, my mom told us how she was clearing the house of demons, something her church told her she had an obligation to God to do.
I was young, incredibly naive, and eager for my mom’s approval. I became convinced Satan was ensconced in secular music and vowed never to listen to it—not even the radio.
But the metal bug had already hatched in my brain and was eating its way through my temporal lobe, laying eggs along the way.
I started listening to Christian metal bands. To my surprise, my mom didn’t care (as long as it was Christian music). But the teachers at the religious school I attended told me electric guitars were instruments of the Devil—that I should burn my albums. I went out and bought more.
Then I graduated high school and joined the Air Force—escaping home and the church. I gave away all my Christian CDs, looking for something which reflected my anger at a church telling mothers to burn their kids’ music. My frustration at having to remain in the closet because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. My despondency that I was stupid enough to believe Beelzebub lived inside a compact disk packed with digital data.
When I listened to Morgion for the first time, I found salvation in the very music I was taught would damn me forever to perdition.
I went back to that store knowing next-to-nothing about the metal. But those eggs embedded in my brain began to hatch. Emperor’s IX Equilibrium: A wall of swinging sledgehammers that pulverizes your bones into a fine powder (used by Ihsahn to season his meals). Daemonarch’s Hermeticum: Infectious riffs and guitar solos that jab at your ears just before Fernando Ribeiro’s vocals claw your face from your skull.
I couldn’t listen to those albums enough. Some of the airmen I worked with cringed when I played them in the shop. One guy refused to carpool with me after Morgion’s “Nightfall Infernal” bellowed out of my truck’s speakers at top volume.
My brain is now a festering, writhing swarm of metal. A pulsating hive spawned by an innocuous death/doom metal album sitting in a small music store in Utah.
Check out the song below. Sinking slowly into a bog with a large hole in your chest never felt so fucking great.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Every metalhead has a story about how they were introduced to metal. If you feel like sharing your own tipping point, leave us a comment. And comments about Mike’s post are also welcome.
Mine’s pretty boring tbh but I suppose it’s fairly unusual since I got into metal via electronic music. In my early teens I was listening to a lot of drum and bass, particularly the darker music in the genre and when I was 13 I discovered dubstep. From there I became interested in darker and heavier forms of drum and bass and (after discovering Borgore) heavier dubstep too. The thing that got me into metal was one of the links in the suggestions column of a Youtube vid of a darkstep song I watched when I was 15. The link was for Retribution by The Berzerker and out of curiosity I clicked on it and found myself loving it. After that I went out and found as much extreme metal to listen to as possible.
My story is mostly internet-oriented. The initial spark came via hearing ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica on the music channel VH1. It was round about 6th grade that I realised I liked that song. The spark remained dormant until 11th grade, when I started exploring metal in earnest. A metalhead friend was the second spark – since he liked metal so much, I decided to give it a try. I created stations on the internet radio site Jango.com, and I eventually found bands I liked. The first lot of bands I liked included Iron Maiden, Dio, Saxon, Metallica, Megadeth, Amon Amarth and Bathory. I still like those bands today.
Yeah, my story is not nearly as interesting as yours, but I’d guess it’s pretty common for newer metal fans. A friend in high school got me to listen to some As I Lay Dying, Still Remains, etc. I didn’t love most of it but it sparked my curiosity. I heard Type O Negative and Mastodon on the music choice channel and that pushed it further. Then I decided to check out this band Opeth, because I’d heard their name (probably because it sounds similar to Otep) althought I knew nothing about them. Pushed play on “Ghost of Perdition” and that was that.
i suppose since I invited this discussion, I ought to participate. I came to metal very late in life. For me, it was like a bunch of vectors intersecting at roughly the same time. I was into 80s-era punk music, brainwashed by the general punk hostility to metal. Eventually, though, before leaving punk behind, I heard some of Faith No More’s early Mike Patton-era music, got hooked on Linkin Park’s first album as well as Rage Against the Machine, and started making my way into nu metal. Some of the early metalcore acts like Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, and As I Lay Dying pushed me further into metal at around the same time.
But I can vividly remember the first time when the light bulb went off in my head as I listened to more extreme music. I was sitting at my computer at home and for reasons I’ve forgotten, I watched In Flames’ video for “Vacuum” — this one:
And that was it. It didn’t take long before I had plowed through In Flames discography up to Come Clarity, and then quickly branched out from there.
I have an equally vivid memory of the first time it hit me that black metal was something I needed to learn more about: Listening to Rotting Christ’s “Theogonia” album at the insistence of a friend of a friend.
I love that Morigon album cover.
As for my story, it’s pretty simple: a friend bought me Master of Puppets for christmas.
My story: My mother listened to Europe from time to time (she had one album), yet we were all ignorant of the fact that it was glam metal. One of my best friends showed me In Flames’ Cloud Connected in 9th grade, wasn’t really attracted nor repulsed by it. Then I borrowed a compilation called Heavenly Metal Ballads from a church friend. They were soft ballads, Creed stuff, but the fact that it was labelled metal and I soon was reading off the artist names to my friend, asking whether he knew any of them. Then he played me some more songs, Stricken and Liberate by Disturbed, I mean to remember. From there I kind of went my own way, not listening to anything anyone was suggesting was really good, but just finding out for myself, starting with the Scorpions and Def Leppard, later I got into Thrash, Megadeth and Anthrax. And from there anything, Death, Black Metal, Grindcore and anything in between.
It all began with Slayer, Metallica, or Iron Maiden mixtapes I could get my hands on. My friends and I would sing along to Exodus and Testament. Then one day, a friend’s older brother left his truck unlocked and I pulled a tape out–Death’s Leprosy. Well what can be more insane than a band actually named Death? From Chuck’s first shriek, I was changed forever. I traded all my old tapes for Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Carnage. I begged local record stores to special order me Cannibal Corpse albums with the original art. I would walk into school and amaze onlookers with my new Tomb of the Mutilated cassette, in all of its gory glory. I revelled in the classic years of Death Metal and have never stopped banging my head or seeking further putrescences.
I got into metal through progressive rock. I grew up listening to and loving Rush, Yes, Marillion, and Genesis, and a bit of metal like Metallica, and Megadeth. Then, one day in 2004, my dad came home from work talking about a band one of his students had shown him. He downloaded a couple songs and I listened. the first song I heard was Under a Glass Moon by Dream Theater, and I loved it. He borrowed Dream Theater’s Live at the Budokan DVD and we watched that. I was mesmerized. How could mere mortals make such excellent music?! From there, it was only a matter of time until I got into Iron Maiden, and more common metal bands. A few years later, I got into black metal through Enslaved and their progressive elements.
Love Axioma Ethica Odini.
One started listening to heavy music 2007 after hearing some Linkin Park on TV. One started out by exploring Alternative Metal, Nu Metal and Grunge, later moving on to traditional metal genres. Wikipedia and last.fm had been my source of music discovery until about the end of 2010. At that time, one had been listening to mostly-mainstream Progressive Metal, Thrash Metal/Groove Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal and Post-Metal bands.
Music blogs have been my source of music discovery since – primarily Metalsucks, The Number of the Blog (until last year end) and No Clean Singing.
The albums that probably influenced one’s taste in music the most are:
Linkin Park‘s Hybrid Theory
Nine Inch Nails‘ The Downward Spiral
Primus‘s Sailing the Seas of Cheese
Metallica‘s …And Justice for All
Strapping Young Lad‘s Alien
Fantômas‘s The Director’s Cut
Gojira‘s From Mars to Sirius
Death‘s The Sound of Perseverence
Devin Townsend‘s Ziltoid, The Omniscient
Cynic‘s Traced in Air
Melvins‘ (A) Senile Animal
Celtic Frost‘s Monotheist
Ulver‘s Perdition City
Animals as Leaders‘ Animals as Leaders
From Exile‘s From Exile
Thy Catafalque‘s Róka Hasa Rádió
Ulcerate‘s The Destroyers of All
Immolation‘s Majesty and Decay
Death Grips‘s ExMilitary
One apologises if this seems long. One also apologises for the ~800 word version of this which one was about to post previously. 😐
I was, basically, teased into listening to metal.
I worked in a university cafeteria. One of the cooks was in his late thirties/early forties, and he was the ultimate music snob. He’d import CDs from France, only listen to the most underground music, and totally shit all over anyone who tried playing “radio rock” in the kitchen.
I mostly listened to Marilyn Manson at the time. (I’m sure there were other bands as well, but that’s the least embarrassing.) He gave me so much shit about listening to Marilyn Manson (“And not even the decent albums!”) and kept telling me how I needed to go find some GOOD music. So I asked him what good music was–oh, how clever I thought I was, challenging the musical tastes of someone almost 20 years older than me who’d been playing guitar for most of his life. But, rather than just telling me what to listen to, he told me to stop being a little shit (I may have imagined that part) and to go find shit on my own.
About a month later, I was listening to In Flames, Amon Amarth, some random folk metal, and Sonata Arctica. (Hey, can’t win ’em all, right?)
That was right around the time I started studying Japanese. So, I’ve been listening to proper metal for almost as long as I’ve been able to read and write hiragana……….what a weird thought.
Through post-hardcore LOL