Ode to the Metallica Chat
This is an article I’ve been considering for a while. This is a story about how I came to develop the musical tastes that I have today. This is the building block that shaped by the people that I interacted with for years. This, I hope, will give a unique perspective into my journey into how my preferences have evolved.
To preface, I will begin with how I started. I use to ride in the back seat of a blue car that we called the Smurfmobile (I was born in 1985), while my father blasted classic rock. I don’t know what it was called back then (just “rock ‘n’ roll”?), but it was music like Led Zeppelin, Boston, Cream, and Pink Floyd. Music was never something that I really identified with growing up. I knew the songs, I knew the bands, but I didn’t really care one way or the other whether or not I heard it. Early exposure to Iron Maiden, Metallica, Green Jelly, and Marilyn Manson was the first real “modern” music that I found myself remotely interested. As an angsty teen, I found solace in the radio nu metal that was all over the radio waves from 1998-2001. Even as I found enjoyment in that music, though, I couldn’t help but notice that radio stations weren’t doing a very good job of showcasing the full catalog of an artist’s work. I also became disenchanted at the lack of representation from the bands that I had heard sometimes but weren’t getting much (or any exposure) on the radio.
I began looking elsewhere. Movie soundtracks and friend referrals were a pretty good go-to for me for learning about new artists. One time I even purchased a Darkest Hour album from the Sam Goody store on a whim. Why not, you know? But it was a slow go for me. I had heard and enjoyed Soilwork, Opeth, In Flames, and Bathory, but I was still (unbeknownst to me) very undereducated in the vast array of music out there.
Chatrooms were a big thing when I was a teenager. For a shy person like myself, I found it nice to be able to speak anonymously and be judged on the content of what I said and not the way that I looked. AOL Instant Messenger had some music chatrooms and “Metallica” was the only one that was anywhere close to representing the style of music that I was interested in.
Each chatroom could hold 36 individuals before overflowing into additional chatrooms. The main Metallica chatroom, which we called “Met 0” was discovered (by me) as a zone full of regular inhabitants. When I say “regular”, I mean that they were frequent patrons, the way the old people at McDonald’s all get together and drink the free coffee out of their Batman Forever glasses and never buy shit every morning. Forever.
My first few days in there were brutal. I found myself surrounded by a bunch of elitist assholes who explained to me that my music was terrible and that I needed to learn some things about metal before ever coming back into the room. Now, normally, people would just say “These guys are dicks, I don’t need them. Peace out.” I, however, did not. I was curious to see if these people were just being hipsters or if there was any legitimacy to their disdain of the music that I had thought was good.
So I spent a couple weeks sitting in the chatroom, cherry picking random bands that people were throwing out. I spent some time getting to know the new bands’ material and learning about some of the deeper European genres that I was completely unaware existed. Here are the some of the songs that stuck out for me in my early stages:
NIGHTWISH (FINLAND) – BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, FROM ANGELS FALL FIRST (1997)
The initial appeal to me was the way that Nightwish was described. Someone in the chatroom called it “flowery opera metal”. My natural inclination was to think of opera and metal as diametrically opposed concepts. I was curious about how the two genres could be combined in such a way. Two singers and 19 years ago, Nightwish was actually much more folk influenced than the gothic/symphonic metal sound they currently have. Now, Nightwish is extremely popular and making a killing out there. If I can find some figures that support my claim I’ll share them. I DO, however, know that they are the third top selling artist within the confines of Finland ever, but I think they might have a larger number of relative sales worldwide.
BLIND GUARDIAN (GERMANY) – BEYOND THE ICE, FROM FOLLOW THE BLIND (1989)
Blind Guardian was listed, from some friends, as “the only good power metal band.” Also, “they sing about Lord of the Rings and shit”. While I couldn’t actually locate any references to fecal matter, I did find the subject matter of the band to be exceptionally awesome. I was have talked about this band at length for many articles so I won’t fanboy too hard here, but seriously…Blind Guardian is the shit.
ANNIHILATOR (CANADA) – ALISON HELL, FROM ALICE IN HELL (1989)
Of course, I was familiar with the Big 4 of thrash but Annihilator was a little late to the scene and not a band from the United States so they didn’t get the same exposure that those other bands got. Annihilator has gone through quite a few changes over the years (lineup changes are always consistent) and their sound has definitely altered quite a bit but I consider their debut album a quintessential thrash album and this song was my first real experience with Annihilator.
BORKNAGAR (NORWAY) – THE GENUINE PULSE, FROM EMPIRICISM (2001)
I was really apprehensive about black metal early on because of its stereotyped lyrical content as well as the lack of clean vocals (in the music that I had heard prior). I was excited to find a band like Borknagar existing. This song completely floored me as did the rest of the album. I was impressed that a band could include elements of multiple genres that I enjoyed quite a bit.
BEHEMOTH (POLAND) – CHRISTRIANS TO THE LIONS, FROM THELEMA.6 (2000)
Behemoth quickly became one of my favorite death metal bands early on. I was very much into the melodic death metal genre that helped me really explore some of the other bands that utilized clean vocals. Behemoth was probably the first band that DIDN’T employ any clean vocals that I could really get into. Honestly, it was the insanity of the drumming and the pure aggressiveness of Nergal’s vocals that made it possible for me.
So, this monster is becoming far larger than I actually imagined so I will continue this next week with five more artists that the Met0 chatroom helped me discover. See you next week!