Posted by RiffRaff
One could argue that the birth of heavy metal started when Black Sabbath struck the opening notes of their debut self titled album back in 1969. The Diablos in Musica chords (or diminished fifths for you musicians out there) coupled with the iconic line “What is this that stands before me” ushered in one of the strongest movements in modern music history. People were scared, they were confused, but most importantly they were intrigued. With the initial heavy metal seed sown, it flourished oh so swiftly. The more people heard heavy metal and enjoy it, the more they took the ideas set forth by Black Sabbath and put their own twist letting this new genre branch out into a plethora of directions. Over the generations heavy metal grew and evolved unlike any previous form of music. Often times seeds dropped from that initial Black Sabbath tree and led to the birth to another heavy metal tree complete with growing and evolving branches. In time seeds from the new trees birthed others and so on and so forth. In a short amount of time there grew a heavy metal forest where one end differed greatly from the other. Within this glorious forest we all have found a different branches and trees that birthed the seed to our personal heavy metal forests.
What we bring you today is a collaboration effort between Reggie (Plantera7), me (Matt, aka Atleastimhousebroken), and our metal blog buddies Dan, Chris, and Melissa over at D.C. Metal Review and Metalosophy. We are all different ages ranging from 38 to 20, grew up in diverse households, and have different branches of entry into the realm of metal. What we are looking to show along with our own heavy metal story is how in just the 18 years between us how much impact heavy metal has had on our culture and personal lives and how much it has evolved and grew over the generations. We will focus mainly on our high school years but also delve into the before and after a bit. We hope you enjoy and check out the other blogs of our friends who took part in this with us. We would also love to keep this going as long as possible and cover as many generations as possible, so don’t be shy and tell us your heavy metal story, no matter how long or short, down in the comments. Peace Love and Metal!!!
Name: Reggie (plantera7)
Website: A Metal State of Mind – metalstate.wordpress.com
The Birth of a Metalhead
In 1987 I entered high school. By then I knew what music I liked: Bon Jovi, Dokken, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Ratt, Great White, even a little Judas Priest…well, you get the picture. I would consider what I listened to at the time to be popular. It was all over MTV and on mainstream radio in New Hampshire. In 1987, Bon Jovi, Heart, Billy Idol, and Whitesnake had #1 Billboard hits. I thought everyone liked that kind of music. That was, until I got to high school. I realized I was a bit of a minority in that respect. Most other kids in my high school listened to Elton John, Billy Joel, and Bob Marley.
Around this time, I acquired my first job. It was an under-the-table gig busing tables at a local restaurant. I thought it was cool because I could buy cassette tapes which took the burden off my mother. In the restaurant kitchen, the dishwasher was this mullet wearing dude a few years older than me. I am not sure how old he was, but he could at least drive, so let’s say 16. It took me a while to get to know him, but whenever I went back there to drop off dishes, I noticed what he was listening to…and it wasn’t Bon Jovi. It was heavy and fast. He finally asked me what I listened to and I ran down my list of usual bands. I didn’t want him to laugh at me so I threw in Ozzy and Judas Priest for good measure. He kind of nodded and said “cool, but check this out.”
He hit play and I remember hearing Lars Ulrich say, 1, 2…1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and the beginning of “Leper Messiah” kicked in. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I loved it! Obviously, I am referring to Metallica Master of Puppets. About a week later, he had to leave for some reason and I filled in the coveted dishwasher position for him. He said he would leave all his cassette tapes for me; it was like an “I Got a Golden Ticket” moment. I sampled a ton of stuff which established my initial fondness for the Big Four bands, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. The rest as they say was history. I officially became a metalhead. What did that mean for me in high school? I became even more isolated from the norm.
There were others like me I connected with. My buddy Mike was by my side; my partner in metal and life in general. We are still friends to this day! But throughout highschool I was pretty much just a metalhead, mullet wearing kid. My favorite shirt was this nasty bright green Root of all Evil Slayer shirt. It was during these formative years I discovered the beauty of a metal show. My first “real” metal event was Metallica on the And Justice For All tour. They came to my humble hometown in New Hampshire and scared all the old people. It was an outdoor show. New Hampshire, as far as I knew, had not ever had anything this heavy come to town. It was six o’clock news fodder. Based on where I lived, I had access to Boston and began a love affair with concerts. I got to see many more bands including all of the Big Four bands, plus Nuclear Assault, Savatage, Alice in Chains, Testament, Overkill, Death Angel, Forbidden, Judas Priest, and a laundry list of local bands including one called Candy Striper Death Orgy.
After high school, I joined the Air Force where I am still employed today, 20-years later and living temporarily in England. When I got to my first base in 1992, I didn’t realize that my metal horizons would further broaden in…Oklahoma. It turns out there are metalheads in the Air Force. Some of my coworkers introduced me to something I only just barely heard…Death metal. I only knew of Death at time and their “Human” album, specifically the song “Lack of Comprehension.” These guys I worked with brought over something called Obituary and played a song called “Killing Time.” It had this nice long heavy intro and just rocked. From there and throughout the rest of my career I began to diversify my metal tastes. I even managed to catch a few concerts in Oklahoma (Megadeth, Suicidal, Sacred Reich, and Pantera) and pretty much everywhere I went after that. Though I always revert back to my roots (Big Four), I consider myself a fan of all metal subgenres…at least a little bit; some more than others.
Over time I realized that metalheads were not as violent as people made us out to be. Yes, some were misguided & disenfranchised youth, but metal didn’t do that to them. Metal was their outlet. No matter what show I went to in whatever state or country, no other metal kid would allow another one to get hurt…at least not intentionally. For me, being in a social minority in high school ultimately meant nothing. The metal community is so much bigger than that. As the old guy in this article, I feel it’s important to never forget those bands that struggled to forge metal into what it is today.I am absolutely proud to be a metalhead today and happy to see that other bands are carrying the torch. I can’t say I like everything I hear today, but at least it’s still heavy and I can’t complain about that too much.
Name: Dan Adkins
Metal from the Dark and Light Side:
Like most people who grew up during the late nineties/early aughts, I had a big interest in the then, ever popular nu-metal scene. The bands I was most typically associated with were your Tools, Deftones, and Korns of the world, and while the two former were/are an integral part of my musical palate, there has been another metal spice that has seasoned my musical diet. I’m speaking, of course, about the realm of… Christian metal!!!
Growing up in a fairly religious home, but attending public school, I had two voices talking to me at any one time. The first being the voice of the church; heavy metal is satanic and evil. The second being the voice of my peers; this is so awesome! When I try to think of an example of these two voices at play, I often recall a brief conversation I had with a friend regarding the band Slipknot. He had gotten into them around our collective age of fifteen, and was playing them in the background while we were beating the crap out of each other in some video game landscape. I expressed my enjoyment (or at least interest) in the bands’ sound, and my friend remarked, “You know, I don’t think Slipknot is really your type of music.” This irked me because, as the stupid fifteen year old that I was, I decided that he was making a comment on the heaviness of the band. I didn’t realize that he was, in fact, pointing out my uber-religious devotion and how that didn’t vibe with lyrics like, “fuck it all, fuck this world, fuck everything you stand for!” So, I did probably the most obvious thing ever, and went to the Christian bookstore sandwiched between the Media Play and the Best Buy, and picked up the first cool cover, heavy metal album I could. That band, Society’s Finest, were a voracious and altogether insane band. I thought to my self as I listened through the complimentary sampling station, “this is like Slipknot, but only heavier!” Indeed, the bands aesthetic of mixing chaotic hardcore and death metal was “heavier” than Slipknot, but more importantly it opened up the world of Zao, Living Sacrifice, Extol, and a host of other extreme Christian bands that got no love from anyone. I was hooked.
As I went through my high school experience, a significant chunk of it with Chris, I moved from seeking out Christian alternatives to being OK with listening to System of A Down and Living Sacrifice in the same car ride to school. I eventually began to explore the world of hardcore and found some enjoyment in the sonic stylings of Refused and Blindside, two Swedish bands on somewhat opposite ends of the spectrum. I continued delving into anything and everything I could, and found my self rocking Nine Inch Nails, singing along to Trent’s urgent plea that “God is dead/And no one cares,” right after a Wednesday night youth group meeting. It was a strange time, and honestly, I can only categorize it as being a burgeoning metal fan’s grappling with his self-identity.
Sometime around the end of high school, I got bored with everything I was listening to and started to explore the roots of heavy metal. I bought Ian Christie’s excellent metal expose, Sound of The Beast: The Complete Head Banging History of Heavy Metal and devoured every word and band I could from the text. I found much more appreciation for the thrash scene, the melo-death scene, and even the likes of Dio and Black Sabbath. My Uncle had introduced me to these two early on, and while I enjoyed them, they didn’t quite stick. Dio would have been my first concert, actually, had there not been the bane of every youth’s existence; age restrictions. This exploration lead directly into the death/thrash/progressive metal loving wannabe hardcore guy I am today. If it weren’t for an earnest seeking to know where my favorite genre of music came from, I wouldn’t be writing this today.
Looking back just briefly at my time in high school, it amazes me how much of a product of the time I was. I came into this style of music at the genesis of American Christianity’s obsession with the “culture wars.” This was so ingrained in me that I actively sought out Christian alternatives to my favorite secular metal artists. Unfortunately, they didn’t exist at that time (save for the likes of P.O.D. and Project 86, but they each deserve a lot of credit for their own musical merits). Instead, I was introduced into the Christian scenes’ early explorations into blending metal and hardcore. I found the Christian versions of the death and black and progressive metal bands, and I loved every single one of them. Here’s some brief context for you; I was fourteen in 1998, right when Zao released Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest. Jump forward a year or two when I really get into their scene, and I think it’s clear that their sound and the bands associated with them were everywhere and everything for me.
It seems disingenuous to talk about my high school years without mentioning King’s X. If there is one band that singlehandedly changed my view on music, and even the world, it’s this band. I could write a whole host of articles on their influence, but I’ll just say that they’ve been there through every development. I once answered an interview question*, the ubiquitous “what is your biggest musical influence?” with “King’s X. If I could be that band, like all three of those guys at once, I’d die happy.”
I would reiterate that Chris and I shared a lot of high school together, and we shared a love for a lot of the same bands. Much of what Chris wrote about high school, you could swap my name for his. However, this little look into the “light” side of metal is characteristically mine, and I wouldn’t be where I am, or who I am if it weren’t for it.
*You can read the article this interview was conducted for here; http://www.myspace.com/xruinsoftomorrowx/blog/468151997
Name: Matt (Atleastimhousebroken)
Website: A Metal State of Mind – metalstate.wordpress.com
By the time I hit high school in 1994 I had already established myself as being a bit of a metalhead. At an early age I had been introduced to bands such as Iron Maiden, Rush, and Metallica and about at 7th grade I had started to delve deeper into the metal realm getting into albums like Tool’s Undertow and White Zombie’s La Sexorcitso: Devil Music Vol. 1. One album that had a major impact on me I had picked up at the tail end of my 8th grade year, Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven. After getting into that record, and very quickly their back catalog, I started to see my metal horizons broadening leading to Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, and whatever other insanely extreme metal bands I could find that seemed to annoy everyone else but me.
My first year of high school was a bit of a change for me. I had gone from a Catholic grade school to a public school and most of my friends had opted to continue their education at other Catholic schools. So it was time for me to make new friends. Luckily my love for music, in particular metal, led to a way for me to meet new friends and that led to me getting into a ton of new music. A comment on my Pantera t-shirt (or whatever band shirt I was wearing that day) led to conversations about music. “So, you dig Pantera, their awesome! What else do you like?” someone might say to me. “Oh, I dig Maiden, Rush, Alice in Chains”. “You should check out Dream Theater, they’re like Maiden and Rush in all-in-one, I’ll make you a copy.”
After enough conversations like that my musical horizons blew into another dimension and I found myself with a good amount of friends and new bands to listen to through this method. At this point time in heavy music the big thing was the aftermath of grunge music and everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Nu-metal. Bands like Korn, Limp Bizkut, Incubus, and Deftones were ruling the scene along with lesser-known contemporaries like Ill Nino, Spineshank, and Orange 9mm. There was also a huge hardcore and punk scene going on in my area (NJ) with tons of local bands and VFW/firehouse shows going down. Madball, Shai Hulud, The Despised, Sick of it All, Vision of Disorder, Minor Threat, etc were considered gods by a large part of my peers and countless bands emulating the hardcore punk/styles were popping left and right which led to me attending tons of local shows and getting into the live music scene. Then in 1997 I attended my first real ‘big metal show’, Pantera on the Great Southern Trendkill tour. Let’s just say I was moved and my metal obsession went even deeper as I went out of my way to attend as many shows as I could possibly get away with. Luckily I lived in an awesome area for live music with countless metal friendly clubs and concert venues, so there was no shortage of places for me to get my fix. Unfortunately today many of these places have closed down, but there is still a high demand for live music in NJ so new places are always popping up.
While I was primarily a metalhead in high school I also found myself branching off into other musical directions mainly headlined by things that were similar to Rush and Dream Theater. While I had known of them previously one band I ended up getting into big time during my high school time was Pink Floyd. Soon I found myself with the classic rock crowd, which was real popular with my ‘nerd’ friends and art inclined buddies, getting into my parents music like Queen, Genesis, and Led Zeppelin which in turn led to more progressive music in the likes of King Crimson. I would say it was during this phase that I really started to learn how to listen to music much deeper and I also developed an insatiable taste for progressive music and music against the norm, especially the works of Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, etc). My love of progressive metal really came in strong after high school when I came across a little album called Ghost Reveries by Opeth, and it’s been running full force ever since.
Throughout those 4 years of high school I guess I hit a sweet spot in metal. Bands were starting to expand incorporating different musical styles into the metal and were becoming popular. Monster Magnet with their psychedelic and rock and roll sounds, System of a Down and the, umm, kitchen sink style, Fear Factory was rocking the industrial sounds, and Rage Against the Machine pouring in hip-hop with the metal. I would say it was around this time metal really started branching out leading to the insane amount of subgenres there are today.
By the time the final year of high school hit I had become a self proclaimed connoisseur of music, especially metal. Along with all the classics and knowledge of what’s good on the modern scene I was the kid that always was saying “You gotta check this out if you dig so-and-so” (and with my blog, you can see I haven’t changed in that respect, lol). And that wasn’t just limited to metal. Like many I also enjoyed what was hip at the time so I was into some stuff that many metal heads would, and have, considered drek. 311, Live, Phish, Incubus, Everclear, and so on, but in the end it was heavy metal and its pure energy that really stuck with me non-stop over the years and I don’t think that is ever going to change.
One more note on the scene at that time, Marilyn Manson was huge at the time along with their contemporaries, but that was never really my cup of tea.
Peace Love and Metal!!!
Name: Melissa (Metalosophy)
I had been listening to metal music for most of my life by the time I arrived in high school due to the influence of multiple family members. I can still remember the nightmares of James Hetfield coming for me that I experienced in elementary school after seeing the music video for “Enter Sandman”. I also remember fearing that my eyes would be sewn shut a la Alice in Chains’ “Man in a Box” if the new glasses I received in the third grade didn’t work out. Despite having these fears I loved the music and also enjoyed other heavy bands such as Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions, and Megadeth.
That’s not to say that I didn’t deviate from it throughout the years; I just always came back to it. I started becoming aware of my individual power to explore music deeper in middle school. Some bands that I liked at the time were Avenged Sevenfold, Breaking Benjamin, Rammstein, Flyleaf, System of a Down, Disturbed, Korn, Linkin Park, and Slipknot. My absolute favorite at the time though was Evanescence. I idolized Amy Lee and was an active member of my school chorus in hopes that I could one day sing like her. At this time also joined drama club because I love theater almost as much as I do metal. (Fun Fact: I was originally a theater education major when I came to college). As if middle school isn’t always an awkward time, it was hard to find people who also had a liking for metal. (I still get weird looks from some people when I tell them about my love for Stephen Sondheim while wearing a Big Four shirt).
Things didn’t change that much in terms of finding others like me when it came to high school. It wasn’t all bad either though. I was still very active in the school chorus and drama club. Although I enjoyed bonding with others over those styles of music I still wished to talk about metal with someone. Until senior year, all of the other heavy metal followers were guys who either didn’t speak to anyone outside of their circle or gave me shit for listening to it and being a girl (this only occurred a few times thankfully). During my senior year however, there was one incident where I wore my Dethklok shirt to school and a crowd of younger metal dudes cheered for me. I was very confused for one of my classes had made fun of me for wearing the shirt the previous week, including the teacher.
At this period in my life the only newer bands that I listened to were As I Lay Dying, Three Days Grace, Black Tide, Lacuna Coil, and through the show Metalocalypse, Dethklok. Although they were slightly aged by the time I heard them, I loved Cradle of Filth’s “Nyphetamine” for the female vocals and has opened a gateway to heavier metal recently. I still loved Amy Lee and Evanescence but was not as impressed by their second album. I was more interested in exploring some of the earlier metal that I listened to when I was younger but didn’t really dig into. When obtaining nearly the whole Metallica catalog I learned of the rest of the Big Four: Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth. The connection between Megadeth and Metallica was fascinating to me since I had heard both of them before but didn’t realize it. At the same time I found out about other older bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest. While looking through my parents’ music I discovered Rush and reconnected with bands such as Motley Crue, Alice in Chains, Led Zeppelin, and Guns ‘N’ Roses.
While in high school, my father still forbade me to go to any metal shows since I had no one to go with (I wouldn’t get my sister interested until my senior year) and he was worried about the safety of such events. Even though I was disappointed, I couldn’t be too mad since Reading, MA had a good supply of local musicians. Some of my friends have played either solo or in bands so I’d go to almost every coffeehouse or Battle of the Bands. Unfortunately none of them were metal but instead pop/rock, pop punk, ska, and piano-singer/songwriter types.
During my senior year I discovered a local metal band called Abyss. One of my good friends had known their keyboard player and had brought me to watch them perform for a bit at our town’s street fair. Over the course of the year I saw them play a few more times and bought their CD. During the following summer and the first semester of my freshman year in college their guitarist, Nick, and I became best friends. I have discovered many bands and been able to attend bigger gigs as a result. Perhaps the biggest discovery for me was Pantera (Nick worships Dimebag Darrell), now one of my favorite bands.
I have seen many local gigs over the past 2 ½ years and have also found other metal artists such as My Missing Half and Buried Electric as a result. My first year in college I decided to change my major to English Writing in hopes of one day becoming a writer for Revolver or Rolling Stone. This year I decided to transfer to Umass Lowell where there are more metal gigs (and coincidentally where Nick attends) in order to make more connections and get more experience. Although I have had to deal with multiple years of keeping my love for metal to myself, I have finally been able to share it with others like me since coming to college and I couldn’t be any happier.
Humble Beginnings: I’ve been listening to music for as long as I remember. I remember hearing Alice in Chains, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and Ozzy on the radio on the way home from school in first grade. When I arrived home, my Dad almost always had music playing. He listened to all kinds of stuff; from classic rock, to Celtic bands, alternative bands and grunge, which really let me experience a wide variety of music. In third and fourth grade I began inspecting my Dad’s cassettes. I specifically remember listening to GNR’s Lies, Aerosmith’s Big Ones, Pearl Jam’s Ten, Alice in Chains’ Dirt and most importantly, Metallica’s Metallica. One day at school I saw a kid wearing a Guns N’ Roses shirt and talked with him briefly; we became friends. One night at his house we ended up watching Beavis and Butthead and I was introduced to Pantera. I remember hearing how pissed off Phil Anselmo sounded and how heavy the music was and absolutely loving it. After a few random nights spent at Alex’s I was introduced to Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Faith No More, and Living Colour, all while cementing my love for Metallica, A.I.C., and Guns N’ Roses; three bands I STILL turn back to almost daily. In 5th grade most kids began to recognize music and pick genres that were “cool”. I remember being stuck at friend’s houses listening to Coolio, Black Street, Mariah Carey, Boys II Men, and all the other nonsense that was invading pop radio at the time, and as much as I tried to like it, it never really clicked, and I always turned back to rock and metal.
Trial and Error: Oh Middle School, how I hated you. In a time where everyone was confused about everything, I stuck to my guns musically. All the kids who started fights with me and all the people I despised in school were also all the people who listened to hip-hop, rap, and pop music. Although small, I found acceptance and friendship in the metal community. I was soon introduced to Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Fear Factory, Primus, and Sevendust. I remember buying Rammstein’s Sehnsucht, and Coal Chambers self-titled album and really digging the heavier new bands of that time. Toward the end of middle school you weren’t cool if you didn’t like Korn. Little did we know that the music that everyone else hated would soon be the “cool” thing to listen to. As a freshman in high school bands like Korn, Disturbed, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, and The Deftones were on constant rotation. That year I also attended my first concert: System of a Down, Powerman 5000, Kid Rock, Korn, and Metallica. From then on I was hooked. All the money I spent went towards CD’s and a collection was born. The nu-metal revolution was in full-swing and I was taking it all in listening to bands like Flaw, Mudvayne, Ill Nino, Linkin Park, Slipknot and 40 Below Summer. The next year I went to Ozzfest and got to see the original Black Sabbath line-up and was blown away. I started exploring older metal bands and began listening to Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Dio, and Judas Priest. I was on a quest to find out about and listen to as much metal as I could take in. As much as I tried though, I really couldn’t get into the full-on screaming bands. That all changed one Saturday morning when I saw a band named Chimaira play on a show called Farmclub. I bought Pass Out of Existence soon after and toward the end of my senior year of high school, they played a show in a small club in Colorado Springs; Dan and I were there. Opening the show were Full Blown Chaos and God Forbid. When they came on, my eyes were opened. There was something that resonated hearing and seeing them live that really got me over the obstacle of screaming. I remember buying God Forbid’s, Gone Forever at the show and taking it home and LOVING IT; something I didn’t think I would have liked even a day earlier. The summer before I left for college, all that came out of my speakers was Gone Forever and Chimaira’s The Impossibility of Reason.
The Enlightenment: The day I moved into the dorms, I cranked Chimaira and instantly had a kid at my door talking about metal. He introduced me to Arch Enemy, Superjoint Ritual, Devildriver, and a slew of other more extreme bands and I just took it all in. Dan would come up to visit and bring stuff from In Flames, Machine Head, Killswitch Engage and others and my collection continued to grow. Other new friends introduced me to Unearth, Atreyu, Children of Bodom, Shadows Fall, and All That Remains, and my knowledge of sub-genres and the vast scope of metal really came to fruition. In 2004 Dan and I went to see Machine Head in Denver and unknown to us at the time was the opening band, Trivium. Pressed up against the rail, front row, Dan and I watched Matt and Corey shred through their set, and then watched Machine Head completely dominate their performance the rest of the night. That show was mind-blowing. I realized that while most people didn’t understand it, there was an immense amount of talent that went into metal music, a talent I still highly respect to this day. There is such a colossal energy at a metal show for me that there is nothing else that even compares. Seeing those songs live really blew me away and made me want to share that experience with everyone else I know. Since then, I’ve found something I like in just about every genre of metal. My love for metal music has also helped me become a fan of numerous other genres of music. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve quit caring about what others think of the things I listen to and have a fairly broad variety of musical tastes, but as far as I can see, nothing even comes close to the love I have for metal music.
About RiffRaffJust takin' it easy for all you sinners.
Posted on February 24, 2012, in News, Ramblings and tagged Beginnings, Christianity, Generations, Heavy Metal, High School, How I Got Into Metal, Lifestyles, metal, modern music, Music, music history, Opinions, Passions, Religion. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.