Journey Through The '10s: A Metalhead's Reflection
|Written by:||Auntie Sahar|
As 2019 winds on down, I find myself reflecting on the decade and all the great music I've discovered, great friends I've made, and great shows I've been to over the course of it. Mark this down as a story I'll tell my grand kids some day.
When I was first getting into metal, around age 11 or 12 or so, I remember having guys in their 30s, 40s, and older schooling me on the essentials of the genre. When they'd talk about how they had seen bands like Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, Death, Cannibal Corpse, and so on back in their heyday, I recall feelings of searing jealousy arising in me, envy at the fact that they had experienced the best of the genre back in its prime while I was either still in diapers or had yet to even be born. For the first 5 or 6 years of listening to metal, I maintained this sort of grandpa rocker mentality, that I had missed out on the glory days of the genre and that all I had to enjoy now were shitty, watered down, over-commercialized metal bands (you know, the types whose merchandise you see on sale at Hot Topic).
And then I discovered Metal Storm.
From 2010 up until today, my broadened understanding of the metal genre and the global community that holds it up has been owed almost entirely to this site. Put simply, I wouldn't know and enjoy over half the bands I do today if not for MS. The degree to which this site and its community has plugged me into the inner workings of the underground, international metal scene has left me with a whole host of friendships, wonderful music discoveries, and memorable experiences that I'm more than grateful for. In short, being a metalhead in the 2010s has been every bit as great as being a metalhead in the 70s or 80s, in its own way.
If you care to humor this aging bastard, read on for a breakdown of the highlights of my experiences with metal this decade, and what I'm ultimately taking away from it.
THE RITE OF PASSAGE: GETTING INTRODUCED TO METAL STORM
Me around the time I first joined Metal Storm.
It was August of 2010 when I first made an account on Metal Storm, originally under the cheesy, unoriginal name of BassMonster428. At this point in my Earthly journey I was 17, and listened mostly to thrash and death metal, Megadeth, Kreator, Behemoth, Nile, and Vader being some of my favorites. I remember at my high school it was difficult to find people to connect with musically because while there was a clique of metalheads there, they mostly listened to what I dubbed "mall metal," stuff like Bullet For My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, August Burns Red, and so forth that I felt was too poppy and felt little to no connection to.
It wasn't until my junior year, and crossing paths with my buddy Danny, who was a year younger than me and could normally be found wearing Blind Guardian and Moonsorrow shirts, that I began to hang out more with people who actually listened to, well, real metal (if you'll excuse my elitist douchebaggery). At someone's 18th birthday party one day, in conversation it came up that I should join Metalstorm.net, where Danny and several others had accounts. "You'll find some pretty good stuff on there, just pay attention to the main page," he said. I was soon to discover how right he was.
When I first joined Metal Storm I stayed relatively quiet for about my first year, and wasn't nearly as vocal (for lack of a better term) as I'd become later. I added all my favorite bands up to that point in time, most of them big name thrash and death ones, as well as a few left field picks like Sadus and Voivod. I used the emoji a lot more than I should have in my posts. While I mostly just kept updated with the bands I already liked and their new albums, tours, shows, etc, I began to keep a greater eye out on the reviews and Staff picks on the home page and discovered a few bands that I'm still a huge fan of to this today: A Forest Of Stars, Wolves In The Throne Room, Oranssi Pazuzu, and Terra Tenebrosa, among others. But I still mostly kept quiet on site, just lurking the forums and posting the occasional "AWESOME TRACK " comment on news pieces. Only upon gaining greater understanding of the so called "Metal Storm hierarchy" did my attention begin to turn to more ambitious ends.
EARNING THE STRIPES: PROMOTION TO CONTRIBUTOR AND STAFF
Me around the time I became a Metal Storm Staffer.
Eventually, after perhaps a year or two as a guest on Metal Storm, I began to take greater notice to the community point system and the fact that, with the right accumulation of them, one could begin to climb the ranks from being a verminous guest user to potentially becoming a Staffer with the full armor, sword, horse, and all the works. Having an exaggerated sense of my own self importance, I came to be of the opinion that I had something worthwhile to add to the Metal Storm community, primarily in the form of album reviews. In late 2011 or there around, I began trying my hand at reviewing.
My first few reviews on here, which you should never ever read under any circumstances, were quite rubbish, and got me a well deserved bit of flack. But I kept at them, determined to get better and carve out my mark upon the Storm. By early 2012, some watchful Staffers had begun to take notice of my incoherent babble and extended the offer of being a site Contributor for me, which I happily accepted. About a year, a few dozen reviews, and many interesting band discoveries later, my hour finally arrived with the full assembly of regal procession and chariots, as I was bumped up to a Staffer myself.
Although the work I came to do for Metal Storm as a Staffer was ultimately of an unpaid, voluntary nature, there were several perks to it that made it well worth it, specifically getting special privileges to listen to albums in advance before release, and of course fostering greater connections with musicians and bands from doing reviews, conducting interviews, writing articles, and so forth. Naturally, as a result of all the writing and subsequent band recommendations that would come from people, I had the benefit of having my understanding of and taste in metal broaden and change considerably. I started turning away from the thrash and death metal that I had come to Metal Storm loving and started to favor slower, more hypnotizing brands of metal, specifically black and doom. And I discovered that, contrary to my unfounded beliefs of earlier, there were more than enough amazing bands to go around in the contemporary metal underground than I had previously thought.
THE HAJJ: DISCOVERING ROADBURN FESTIVAL
Perhaps the biggest gift of my joining Metal Storm would come in 2014 with my first journey overseas from the alligator-infested swamps of South Florida to Tilburg in The Netherlands for the annual, 4 day Roadburn Festival. I first found out about this thing in early 2013, when an MS friend shot me a message about how The Ruins Of Beverast would be making their live debut there. Being a huge fan of TROB, I flipped my shit and lamented the fact that, at that point in time, it was too late for me to get to the 2013 edition of the festival. I could, however, make plans to get to the festival the following year, and I began to do just that.
After doing my first Roadburn in 2014 (and getting floored by Napalm Death, The Great Old Ones, Terra Tenebrosa, Bong, Obliteration, and others), it began to become something of a yearly pilgrimage for me. Not only was it an opportunity to see amazing bands I'd likely never get the chance of seeing live in the US, but it was also a chance to meet up with good metal friends in person who up until that point I'd only ever talked to online. Between my 5 journeys to Roadburn (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019), I've had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Doctor, Marcel Hubregste, JN, InnerSelf, SpiritMolecule, RaduP, Schimodie, Vombatus, and more. And I have no doubts that, with future Roadburn attendances in the 2020s, I'll only meet more Metal Stormers who decide to gear up for the Tilburg adventure as well.
Being a relatively low key, indoor festival, where it's quite common to see musicians roaming about and intermingling with the crowd, Roadburn Festival also ended up being a ripe location for in person interviews. In 2015 I interviewed Mories (of Gnaw Their Tongues, Cloak Of Altering, a thousand others), in 2016 I got ahold of guys in Oranssi Pazuzu and Nibiru, and in 2018, although the plans to meet in person at the festival went awry, I ended up interviewing Wormlust's HV Lyngdal shortly after Roadburn. The individuals that I've reached out to for in person Roadburn interviews have all been very receptive to the idea of doing them, for which I am most grateful, and I hope to continue this trend well into the future with Roadburns to come.
A few highlights from my attended Roadburns below
UNCHARTED WATERS: VENTURES INTO NON METAL
Cracking open a dark ambient album with the boys.
Ironic as it may sound, the Metal Storm community has also been responsible for getting me into a lot of non metal music as well. If you're new to our site and happen to stick around long enough, you'll come to notice that our community has quite the eclectic choice in music taste, and that many members, both guests and higher ups, love not only metal but a whole host of other genres including electronica, hip hop, jazz, and more.
Getting more into black metal and doom, both subgenres of metal catered strongly toward minimalism and repetition, I eventually got heavy into drone and dark ambient music around 2015 or so, loves that continue to this day. Getting into grindcore primarily via my like for sludge in 2016 opened the door for going deeper into hardcore punk. And more recently, getting deeper into industrial metal has led to me becoming much more of a fan of synthwave type music, harsh noise, and things of the like.
All of this is owed, really, to a simple combination of paying attention to albums being reviewed and Staff Picked and also paying close attention to Metal Storm's Shout Box, where many great suggestions both metal and non get shared on a regular basis. If you haven't already, I guarantee that doing both will inevitably broaden your musical tastes and interests as well.
DECADE HIGHLIGHTS AND CONCLUSIONS
Me fantasizing about all the awesome metal I'll discover next decade.
Journeying through metal in the 2010s has been a wild ride. If you had told me at the beginning of 2010 that by the decade's end I'd be a well established Staffer on a site that represents an international community of metalheads, have over 200 reviews published, conducted interviews, and have been to an overseas festival 5 times, I would've told you I know where Jimmy Hoffa's body is located. I started the decade somewhat unrealistically lamenting the fact that I had never lived through some perceived "golden age" of metal culture, and I'm ending it with the understanding that I've had the benefit of living through a new golden age right here, right now.
Now, just for the fun of it?
"Highlights of the 2010s." Feel free to post your own list in the comments!
> Best band discovery: Too many, but the ones that've probably have stuck on me the hardest and who I shamelessly pimp the most on here would have to be Oranssi Pazuzu and The Meads Of Asphodel.
>Album of the decade: I'd rather not pinpoint any one specifically, but three that immediately come to mind would be Sonderkommando (The Meads Of Asphodel), The Feral Wisdom (Wormlust), and the Cult Of Fire album with the Hindi title. For a greater idea of what I think have been the holiest of holies for the 2010s, check out this list.
>Publication of the decade: For me this is a tie between my interview with Metatron of The Meads Of Asphodel, a definite idol, and getting the Roadburn Festival articles going with Mr. Doctor, InnerSelf, Radu, and others. I know I don't speak alone in saying that I'm more than happy for whatever additional exposure of the festival the articles have brought, and if they've led to even one person deciding to dot their Is and cross their Ts for the big journey to Tilburg, they've served their purpose.
>Biggest disappointment of the decade: I don't want to level this on any one band in particular, but I remember being quite upset with Sunn O)))'s Kannon and Wolves In The Throne Room's Thrice Woven. Sunn O))) have redeemed themselves since Kannon with Life Metal in my book, but I'm still waiting on the "redemption album" from WITTR (sorry Weaver brothers!). Also, I had two opportunities to see Lord Mantis this decade, once in 2014 and again in 2015, and they ended up canceling on both occasions, so I'm really hoping they get their shit together to the point I can finally experience their blackened sludge bile live some time in the 2020s.
>Best show of the decade: All the best have been at Roadburn Festival, as that's a place that allows me to see some phenomenal performances I'd never get the chance of experiencing in my hometown. Shout outs to Napalm Death and Terra Tenebrosa in 2014, Botanist in 2015, Dark Buddha Rising in 2016, The Ruins Of Beverast in 2018, and Lingua Ignota earlier this year.
>Bands to watch in the 2020s: Again, too many, but Pylar, Panegyrist, Imperial Triumphant, and Emptiness, will certainly be topping my Be On The Lookout list.
Cheers to the all the good friends made, fantastic bands discovered, reviewed, and interviewed, and to more transgressive metal shenanigans in store for the 2020s.
Major thanks to the following people for one hell of a journey through international metal culture in the 2010s:
Mr. Doctor, Marcel Hubregste, RaduP, Ilham, AlexF, mz, Karlabos, Zaph, JN, BloodTears, DarksideMomo, ScreamingSteelUS, Susan, Milena, D.T. Metal, BitterCold, SpiritMolecule, InnerSelf, Schimodie, VIG, TroyKilljoy, Mercurial, nikarg
Love and wishes of more great metal discoveries to them and everyone else.
~ Apothecary, September 2019.
||Written on 15.09.2019 by Metal Storm’s own Babalao. Comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable since 2013.|
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