Blog

Why I Love Metal

 

As explained in the previous blog post, I love me some metal. If you ever catch me alone with some headphones, I’m probably just wrapped up in something with a hard groove and some loud drumming. You may be asking yourself, “why are you listening to this… noise?” or “how do you even keep up with this?” These answers and more will be discussed here.

There is a great video on Youtube that I reference often when explaining to people why I love it and I recommend that you watch it to get a better understanding of the genre and its followers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtzrdXP527U

He hits on all the points that I love, but I wanted to give my spin on some of the topics.

 

Our jumping off point will be the discussion of how it all sounds identical or it’s just noisy. People that say this, have a very shallow understanding of the entire genre. Heavy Metal as a whole has been around since the 70’s when Black Sabbath came around and left one of the biggest musical footprints the world has ever seen. Many artists to this day will still cite this band as something that influenced them and drove them to want to learn music. Today, there are dozens and dozens of different sub genres of metal that people love to nitpick and place people in their own safe category because they want to have their own sound. This is the beauty of the genre to me, is that the sky is truly the limit. If you wanted to write something that is fast and full of guitar shredding, you can listen to artists like All Shall Perish

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns4EA4OJt18

If you want something to listen to that just gets your head moving to a groove and makes you want to jump, you can listen to bands like Volumes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLoDiIijO1k

 

Or if you wanted to listen to something really Epic with a fully-fledged orchestra sound behind all the chaos, you can listen to similar sounds to Fleshgod Apocalypse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Shs0mE1tdE

 

Maybe you are looking for something more Uplifting and positive sounding, but still love the music metal gives, there are bands like Killswitch Engage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpzfdkTuiC4

 

 

Even beyond all of this, there is still so many things that I have left unmentioned and are just out there waiting to be found or even created for everyone to enjoy.

 

The next argument is that people hate the vocals of it all. This is the argument that I understand the most simply because of how harsh they are. The way that I justified it was that it is just a different variation of singing. When you hear some amazing singers like Adele or Lana Del Rey, they are adored not just because of their singing talent and ability to sing the correct notes, but they are famed for having such a rich sense of emotion and creating a different sense of feeling for the listener to understand. Great singing is thought of in the same way that all music is held, in the sense that it should evoke some sort of emotional response in the person listening. When it comes to screaming, they are harnessing the same idea, but with a different set of emotions they are trying to convey. One of my favorite things about metal is the fact that it has the ability to harness the emotion of rage and frustration and put that into something audible. This is something that I feel like really lacks when it comes to any other style of music. Yes, some artists can write songs that can be considered “angry songs”, but it is hard to really feel that emotion with the music that they perform so I feel that they are limed in that regard.

This leads into the lyrics. This is another aspect that I can understand deters people away from the genre because of the dark content of the lyrical passages. This is another misconception because of the reasons listed above. The variance in metal is so vast that you can lyrically talk about whatever you want and get away with it. Granted, there are entire sub-genres dedicated to really brutal topics that some may not want to stomach, but it shouldn’t give you reason to turn your nose up at the genre as a whole. For example, All That Remains tends to talk about overcoming yourself and rising above the natural tendencies of man. And As I Lay Dying, A Christian band, often talks about prayer and their relationship with Christ.

The part that I love though is the darker end, purely for the fact that it takes a concept and turns it up to 11. For example, the band Emmure likes to talk about relationships that went sour, and in my experience when you are really invested into a relationship and it ends on a really bad note, then you have small inklings to do things that are crazy or insane. Emmure will take those urges and thoughts and put them on paper and exaggerate them to another level to create a narrative. Those narratives may be really dark and really vicious at times but the point is still there.

A great example of this is the song A.I.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7B8PRMrxD4

The lyrics as I have interpreted go something along the lines of a toxic relationship that ends and the man loses his mind to the degree that he thinks that she “killed” the person that he was before and so he tells her in the song “Just remember, you killed me first”.

Shoot, there are even quite good love songs in metal.

Songs like Intake- Volumes feature lyrics like “I treated you like shit and you were all I ever wanted in me. I owe you it too because I missed my last chance to say that I love you”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8765AUtETU

or even bands like Silverstein have songs like “My Heroine” with lyrics like “ You taught my heart a sense I never knew I had”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpRs0oncDj8
 

Just as a whole, I will be very open to the fact that I love Metal as a genre of music and I don’t see it really ever changing. I just love how emotionally invested you have to be to be involved in the genre because it is such a passionate project to immerse yourself into and that comes off as really genuine to me. The men and women that dedicate their lives to their craft like that really earn my respect and I love that. I also love that I can always hear little influences in other types of music that I would consider to be a great idea for metal. So many things in my life to be thankful for, but there are many of those days where I am thankful that there are people out there writing and recording all this music that express how I am feeling in a more perfect way than I could ever express.

How I Found Metal

When brainstorming ideas for this blog, I had this one written very close to the top because I feel it necessary that I establish that this is the genre that I listen to the most often and it’s where most of my love for music comes from. There are so many things that I love about it, but I recognize that a lot of people really cannot listen to it without getting a headache. I will establish again that this is my opinion on the genre as a whole and I am not trying to force anyone into loving what I do, just merely trying to express how I listen to it, and why I feel the way that I do about Metal as a whole.

I will have to start from the beginning to show how I came to being the metal head that I am now. When I was a kid, I listened to whatever my parents did. The difference is where I got attached and what I liked. My dad grew up in the 80’s so all the hits were around during my childhood. Motley Crue, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne and the rest. I just loved the sound of these loud guitars and how the distorted guitar just rang in my ears. Then we moved into what was popular during the day with Linkin Park, System of a Down, Disturbed and that was where my love started to develop. There was something about that angry/haunting feel of the drums in Down with the Sickness and how raw Chester sounds while screaming in Faint really just got my attention more than anything.

When I started listening to my own thing, Metallica was my jam through and through. Just everything that they ever put out was on repeat. Clearly I was obsessed, and I was totally ok with that. I really don’t know what started that in the first place, but I’m sure that it was just listening to Enter Sandman and wanting to hear more of that aggressive sound and getting the 1991 Black Album and being hooked. Once the hook had set, I knew that I would have to get everything they did. Albums, live recordings, interviews, the whole nine yards. I will still to this day listen to Master of Puppets and say that album is a 10/10. There was a distinct change that happened though, where I remember going to the theme park Lagoon and wanting to feel excited for it, so I pulled up the heaviest song I knew at the time, just those songs that really got your heart racing and adrenaline pumping, being Dyers Eve, Damage Inc., and Battery. It was then that I think that it clicked in my teenage brain that I loved things that were fast and heavy. I loved that feeling of having music that gave me a physical response rather than just a mental and emotional one.

So once high school rolled around, I made different friends and heard that there were bands popping up that I should listen to. Bands like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Bullet for my Valentine, the Used and others during the MySpace era were gaining popularity. Now, the biggest hurdle for people when approaching metal I would assume is the vocals. They are very harsh initially, but I had the background in listening to a lot of Linkin Park which was a huge gateway into being comfortable with the idea of that vocal style. So I really jumped into this more aggressive sound really dived in. The Poison was the first album that I ever bought and I ate it up. I just remember being so blown away with the pacing of the Intro song leading into Her Voice Resides. Dynamically, it blew my hair back and I loved that. Leading into BFMV was a pretty natural feeling as well, because their biggest influence was Metallica in terms of songwriting and I was all about it. And thus, my love for Metalcore was born.

Once I learned what Metalcore was, I had to have more. All that Remains, As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, August Burns Red and so many others of the time. Then as you did with MySpace, you explore what is on the top charts and 2 bands stood tall amongst the others. Suicide Silence and Whitechapel. Initially, I was just listening to them to have a laugh at the name and to be cool, but then I had another friend that was an actual fan and he showed me more from both and I found myself loving Vicer Exciser. From there my horizon expanded tenfold to open so many other doors to musical exploration.

During this time, I was also going through a bit more emotionally because of my parent’s divorce at 14-15. I think I just never let it show, or was never really aware of how it affected me, but I used all this angry music as a coping mechanism to vent how I was feeling at the time. That, and metal has a lot of emotional connection to the idea of being alone to me as well which was a common theme growing up because of my father’s job which required us to move often. Something in me really loved how it could convey such an aggressive emotional response as well. Your traditional music that is on the radio is either being happy or excited with most Pop, Country likes to settle on being sad or being party driven, and the rock at the time was about relationships. Metal was great in that way, because lyrically it was so vast and open, but had a lot to do with internal struggle and depression. It also didn’t help that I was a teenager full of angst as well who was susceptible to all of those messages as well so I was exactly the demographic they were shooting for.

Once I got through all the coping though, I started really listening to the music itself and loved it for the actual music rather than the feeling. I was a band kid for most of my schooling so I had a basic foundation in music knowledge so I loved sitting and thinking about what was being played and just being enthralled by everything. There are still bands that blow me away today with their technical prowess that make me love it even more and drove me to want to learn guitar myself. Even in the beginning, the guitars always were my go to when listening. As I grow older, I am starting to admire guitar tones, and how it was recorded and mixed and the equipment used and all the little intricacies that go along with playing. Just hearing how and why this music can make an emotional response is a wonderful science to behold and really immerse into.

My Favorites

I feel like whenever I tell people how passionate I am for music, I get the same questions over and over again. “Who is your favorite band?” What is your favorite song?” “What is the best album of all time?”

I hate the first question. Music is a big enough medium that I feel like it is an injustice to say that there is a single “Best Band” or who my favorite is. I have been in love with music for as long as I can remember and I don’t want to name a favorite.

The best album of all time is treated in the same way in my mind. I can understand that there have been albums that have really touched peoples lives or have stood out among the rest, but for me, I will stick to saying there isn’t a best.

Now, what my favorite songs? This is something that I did a lot of soul searching to discover. And that will be the meat of this first blog. To make this whole process easier and better, I will be discussing my top three favorite songs.

Number 3

Broken – Seether featuring Amy Lee

” I don’t feel right when you’ve gone away… “

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised for a second that a duet with a man and a women made it onto my top list of songs. I am such a sucker for the variance between how a man’s voice works along side a really powerful woman’s. And who else can deliver that then Shaun Morgan and Amy Lee together. What makes this song special outside my own personal feelings, is that they were together as a couple to make the song. This adds a really personal sense of romance to the song that makes it just that much more impactful.

As for my personal feelings for this song, it really takes me back to another time and to a whole new realm of emotion. This song was a massive success reaching the 20th spot on the Top 40 charts in 2004, the year it was released and was certified Gold selling over 100,000 copies of the single. and comparing everything that we were hearing at the time, especially in the mainstream music scene, this was definitely the black sheep of the time for it’s somber lyrics and melancholy tone and timbre. Musically this song is beautiful. One of my favorite things about the song is that it was recorded multiple times on different albums. Other versions are just the solo by Seether, and it is in a different key.

The song doesn’t change much, but it definitely has something missing. That gaping hole is filled by dropping the guitar tuning down to E Flat and adding the female counterpoint to the song. also the orchestra that was included in the later version really adds a different dynamic that makes the song soar above the original. Lyrically this song is outstanding and the part that touches me personally. It deals a lot with the idea of a lot of inner turmoil and becoming dependent on others. The idea of feeling “Broken” is something that a lot of people have had to go through, and I am so thankful that they were able to convey that feeling through song and help people not feel so alone in that feeling.

What makes me so drawn into this song, was that I was in a very serious relationship and had lots of feelings invested, and sadly things did not work out, but afterwords I definitely had a better appreciation for the song and its meaning. That feeling of being empty and hollow without the other person was something that hit me like a ton of bricks and i really appreciated the song for its message so that I didn’t feel so alone in going through all that. But now that I have grown up and gone through the motions of moving forward, I still turn to this song and think of all the emotion packed into this song and how much it impacted me and carried me through some of the toughest emotional times in my life.

Number 2

Hate Me – Blue October

” Hate me so you can finally see what’s good for you… “

Wow. There are so many things to say about this song, and this band as a whole. There were so many times that I would listen to their albums, and just relate to line after line, which was terrible because Justin Furstenfeld was a bipolar meth addict and was very open about it and how it destroyed his life and the relationships around him. I was just so engrossed by everything that was said though, because it was saying things that I wasn’t sure could be put into words, let alone lyrics to a song.

The song brings up the topic of self loathing, so much so that you want to burn all bridges around you so that you can stop worrying and stop lying to everyone about how things are and how much of a burden you feel like. These were very real feelings in my life. I was actively in the mindset where I was so self-destructive that I couldn’t connect with anyone anymore. I was dependent on so many things emotionally and I just hated that it had taken over me like it did that i just wanted to sever all ties around me and figure out the rest alone. Thankfully I was in a situation where i was surrounded by people who care about me and slowly helped me dig myself  out piece by piece whether they knew it or not.

Lyrically this song speaks volumes in my mind. It opens with a voicemail from his mother asking how things are and saying she loves him, then in bookended by the sound of breaking glass. Very interesting for someone going into the song with no knowledge of it, but after hearing the song and gaining context for who he was at the time and knowing the situation, i can totally understand the need to feel something break after hearing things like that. The song kicks in and it’s very mellow and very kind of quiet. Vocally, Justin sings in octaves layered over himself which is one of my favorite things to do vocally because it just adds a sense of body to the sound that makes it sound large, but can inversely make it almost eerie in the song, especially because the lower octave is just above a mumble in terms of volume. He sets up the story with lines like “… An ounce of peace is all i want for you, will you never call again” and ” will you never say that you love me, just to put it in my face. Will you never try to reach me, it is I that wanted space”. These lines are just heavy, but they are definitely real life. There are so many people that go through things like this, and I felt like I was one of them so I am grateful for the same reason as I mentioned above that someone was able to verbalize what I was going through mentally. A Day to Remember put it best when they said ” … It’s why sad songs make me happy, so I don’t have to feel alone”

Overall, it was lines like in the second verse that really wrap up my entire feelings that I want you as the reader to understand. ” In my sick way i want to thank you for holding my head up late at night. While I was waging wars on myself you were trying to stop the fight.” So if you’re reading this, you have probably helped me in more ways then you can possibly know because there are still times, even now, where these kinds of self destructive thoughts will creep into the back of my mind. So sincerely, thank you.

Number 1

Everything Changes – Staind

” We could conquer the world and we could say that Forever is more than just a word “

We made it! my favorite song of all time. This was the first song to ever get an actual emotional response out of me, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I remember actually shedding tears when I laid in my bed just absorbed in the track. Coming out of middle school and starting high school was a weird time for me emotionally and for whatever reason, I became an emotional hermit. I was cold, and callus and stoic and had the emotional capacity of a rock. but I started to gain friends and even started dating a little, and started finding light in life. There were some definite rough patches here and there, but i just started to really accept that there was emotion that lived inside of me. Music was a huge propellant of this as well and this was the song that really opened the floodgates.

The simple guitar line just is a great compliment to Aaron Lewis’s voice for the cold open to the song. There is something almost defeatist about the singing which really resonated with me while listening and still remains so to this day. There is a beautiful simplicity to this song as well which does its job and not distracting from the main point of the song, being the lyrics.

Lyrically I attached to this song because of the attitude of the character in the song. using describing words like ” the devil in you” and “the mess you chose”.  The song moves into the chorus to counter all these descriptors to say that Everything Changes. He can learn to feel if all is forgiven, and that really grabbed me because of my stoic nature that I talked about. This kind of talking really gave me hope that maybe I wasn’t meant to be so cold and calculated and could really let myself open up to people and learn what it was like to embrace all these new emotions for me. That was a wonderful feeling for teenage me because I tend to get sucked into my own head and get stuck there sometimes, so when I can escape that headspace, it was really refreshing. It still very much is nice to just get some things off my chest and have a real conversation and get invested in things. Some of the best experiences of my life have these emotional connections that I’m speaking of that wouldn’t have happened if I never learned the ability to open myself and learn how to feel.

The ending is what got me. the vocals get down low and intimate and goes through these scenarios that can happen if things work out, and that got my inner romantic going. There was a sense of hope that just didnt exist at that time and it just burned inside me and brought me to my metaphorical knees and i broke in the best way. From then on, I just attached myself to the song and try to remember that hope that i felt and continue to try to find meaning in all these other songs.

There we have it. My top list! These are definitely subject to change in the future, but this is my story and Im sticking to it. I believe firmly that music is a fantastic tool that we have and we take it for granted sometimes. It’s easy when your an impressionable teenager with an early onset for depression to just sit and be consumed by the music in his  headphones, but even as an adult I want to continue to find the emotion and purpose for the songs that we listen to everyday. I hope this blog will help you look for that same purpose but for your own good to help in every situation.