Listening to Kevin’s Mile High Metal Hour Podcast (that he does with fellow metalhead Steve Bogar), their fourth episode was about -after a long sidebar open about current albums- how they came into metal. What was interesting is how similar everyone’s story is with this common pathway to discovering heavier music and how the internet has made it infinitely more accessible.
Summarizing, Kevin sought out heavier music through a friend who gave him suggestions, including a last.fm channel. Then connected the dots with metal bands opening for the likes of GWAR and finally crossing through with power metal, Blind Guardian and Amorphis.
I feel like that is a parallel to many metalheads and their metamorphosis into one. I know it mimics my own pathway.
I grew up a metalhead and didn’t even know it, or embrace it. My dad (as I have come to know) is a pure hard rock guy. I grew up listening to QFM 96 in Columbus, Ohio, hard rock, classic rock and metal. This was before Limp Bizkit, Korn, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and almost pre-dates Pantera for me. The options -for what rock radio has become- were fewer.
While my dad was listening for AC/DC, Van Halen, Kiss, Scorpions, Def Leppard, I was really feeling Dio, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, etc. I grew up on hard rock and still enjoy it, but my pathway to metal was begun by old school heavy metal and NWOBHM on the radio in the truck going to my grandparents or driving around town.
I disconnected until nu-metal/groove metal came around. Limp Bizkit, Korn, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Mudvayne, Lamb of God, etc. drew me back in. Loved those bands, especially all their earlier albums before almost everyone disappeared or just released garbage. Slipknot still makes relevant albums but that’s really just the greatness of Corey Taylor.
But I knew their had to be heavier, more unknown stuff. Scratching the surface, I found death metal as a teen and then Euro power metal in my 20’s through a friend (also of Kevin’s) Adam Laarsen. Being into album covers (something Kevin also mentioned in the MHMH podcast) really grew my interest. That’s how I truly discovered a love for doom and black metal. Electric Wizard, Hooded Menace, Candlemass, early Darkthrone, punked up speed metal from Venom, that’s where I disappeared into the abyss.
We’re spoiled in Denver with so many awesome local acts and I won’t ever look back from metal after seeing the likes of In the Company of Serpents, Khemmis, Havok, Axeslasher and others. The local scene discovery, seeing these guys open for each other, really finished my journey into metal. I have access to not only a solid touring stop, but plenty to see and hear in-between stops for Kreator or Blind Guardian.
Below are some of the Top 10 Bands/Albums for me along the way to metal.
The Number of the Beast had the most amount of radio Maiden and I loved every moment as a young kid. I always got excited when “Run to the Hills” or “The Number of the Beast” came on. Powerslave is my favorite, but their third album had the biggest impact on me as elementary school kid in the early ’90s.
Holy Diver, fuuuuuck. Who doesn’t love this album?! ‘Nuff said. I don’t know how anyone can’t become a metalhead after hearing this. Imagery, amazing art, awesome vocals, pure heavy metal.
If you say you don’t/didn’t like Metallica, ever, I would never believe you. Kill ‘Em All had so many great songs of my childhood, “Hit the Lights,” “Jump in the Fire,” etc. I grew up when there was only “early Metallica” and I truly am an original product of that dislike of their hard rock progression, and that whole Napster thing.
I’ll admit I was once a juggalo, Insane Clown Posse was that crazy, illogical underground sound I dug being also a fan of rap/hip-hop. I wanted something more grotesque and wild. Who better than Cannibal Corpse? Album art and reputation won the day here. I wasn’t into them as a teen, but this album was where I dipped my toes back into the metal underground.
Skipping over the quick stop in Limp Bizkit and Korn nu-metal and going straight for the throat. Call Slipknot nu-metal, but they were by far the heaviest and with the coolest image. My pathway back to the heavy stuff went through Iowa. My buddy Bill put on their self-titled and opened my mind back up to metal. Nothing they do will ever touch Iowa though.
Lamb of God
While still being all about Slipknot, Mudvayne and similar acts, while in the military I was introduced to Lamb of God. WHOA! This was the heaviest shit that didn’t require masks or banging kegs with baseball bats. Sacrament is still what I consider their best. This was the final mainstream metal stop for me before I crossed over with …
Power metal. Folk and power metal put me firmly in the constant discovery mode of being a metalhead. I don’t go back to power metal that much because it’s almost too campy (which as a movie fan is exactly what I like) and cheesy. Blind Guardian’s Nightfall in Middle-Earth is still amazing.
This is the perfect level of cheese. Candlesmass is amazing for so many reasons, survival after numerous vocalist changes because they consistently write amazing music and choose very good singers. Their early, cheesy, low budget music videos paired with generally awesome doom. Nightfall is all of that and Messiah IS (was) Candlemass.
Viking metal, the original edition, was Hammerheart. I was blown away by this and had discovered it well after Quorthon had died. Regardless this album will possibly always be my #1 metal album. Absolutely amazing. But he also made different metal before Bathory. Something he helped pioneer called “black metal.”
I came way late this black metal thing but thanks to the internet I can relive those early days with early Bathory, early Venom and then Darkthrone in the second wave of black metal. The low-fi black and white covers, corpse paint, non-clean vocals, rapid fire drums and tremolo picked riffs. Fuck! Darkthrone really grabbed me and I still really dig their crustier punked out black n roll stuff they have been doing because Fenriz and Nocturno don’t care what Darkthrone you like.