Celebrating F3ynman's First Year - My Metal Journey So Far
365 days ago, I became a Metal Storm user. Only a few years prior to that, I had never listened to metal before. This article aims to showcase the albums that played a pivotal role in shaping my musical taste from January 2019 to June 2022.
Interestingly enough, my metal exploration unintentionally followed a progression similar to the actual development of the genre: starting with the NWOBHM and blooming thrash metal of the '80s, continuing to '90s death and black metal, and more recently discovering the progressive and post-metal of the early 2000s, with only occasional detours into modern releases by bands such as Vektor and Lucifer's Fall.
My main method of discovering metal was through browsing YouTube recommendations and then later reading through the forums of Metal Storm. While I had heard at some point in my childhood songs like "Crazy Train", "The Trooper", "Enter Sandman", and even "Raining Blood", nothing sparked my interest like when I first heard Judas Priest's Screaming For Vengeance.
Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance
What better way to begin this exploration than with the triumphant opening instrumental of "The Hellion" followed by the extremely catchy "Electric Eye"? It's almost as if those soaring harmonies heralded my impending metal transformation! Since 2016 I had already left the sphere of mainstream pop music and found interest in indie and alt rock bands such as Arctic Monkeys, The Last Shadow Puppets, and Muse. In 2017 and 2018, I decided to try out older classics of rock: AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, and Pink Floyd. The year was 2018, and I was in my last year of school, when a friend approached me at the bus stop. He was listening to Judas Priest and told me I needed to listen, too. He handed me the headphones and I heard for the first time Glenn and KK's dual guitar attack and Rob Halford's legendary engaging singing. I had never heard something so energetic, so fun, and so damn heavy! Another friend gave me the Redeemer Of Souls CD as a gift (the first metal album I ever owned). I became obsessed with Judas Priest and turned to researching their other albums on YouTube. Songs like "The Sentinel", "A Touch of Evil" , and "Breaking the Law" proved to me what a wealth of quality music this band could produce and why they remain my all-time favorite band to this day!
Dio - Holy Diver
While browsing YouTube and listening to Judas Priest, one video kept being recommended to me: the title track of Dio's debut album. When I eventually decided to try it out, I was introduced to the wonderful operatic voice of Ronnie James Dio. I was fascinated by his unique singing style and devoured his works with Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and his solo band. I fell in love with songs such as "Man On The Silver Mountain", "Stargazer", "Sign Of The Southern Cross", "Heaven And Hell", and "Sacred Heart". Soon after, I bought a compilation CD of Dio. Dio and Judas Priest occupied my CD player for months before I came across the next big step in my metal journey: Metallica's Ride the Lightning.
Metallica - Ride The Lightning
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" was my first exposure to thrash. Until this album I had only ever followed along with the singing and the chorus of songs. The instruments were always in the background for me, and guitar solos were kind of annoying because I'd wait impatiently for the part where they started singing again. Then I listened to "Fade To Black", and my entire view of metal changed. It was the first time for me where a chorus wasn't the main, catchy, repeated part, but rather a riff! After this moment I realized that the guitars were the centerpiece, the core of metal music, and not just aimlessly noodling in the background.
Iron Maiden - Powerslave
When I had first stumbled upon Iron Maiden's songs "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son", I found them unlistenable and boring. Rather than energetically singing like Rob Halford, most of the time Bruce was just talking, telling a story. I didn't get what the appeal was until I listened to the Powerslave album. The title track and "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" made me realize how epic this style of metal could be! A few months later I discovered my favorite Iron Maiden album: Somewhere In Time. The atmospheric synths catapulted me into a different world and I was never the same again.
Megadeth - Rust In Peace
Scrolling through YouTube's recommendations and choosing to click on that picture - a skeleton in a suit holding a green gem and leaning over an imprisoned alien - was one of the best decisions of my life. Listening to the firestorms of thrash energy contained within "Holy Wars" and "Tornado Of Souls" was a mind-bending experience. I had never heard something so fast, so intense, so complex, and so beautifully aggressive. After this, all other music seemed too slow, too boring. Nothing compared to the pure fun thrash of Megadeth.
---The Discovery of Metal Storm---
---The Discovery of Metal Storm---
Death - Symbolic
At the start of 2021, listening nonstop to Metallica and Megadeth, I started to wonder what else awaited me in the metal world. Little did I know that I had barely scratched the surface. I searched the internet for a list of the top metal albums of all time, and that's how I found Metal Storm. Looking at the top 200 albums list, I was pleased to see Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, and Black Sabbath high in the rankings. But I was shocked to find a band simply called Death in the first place. Genre: death metal. Oh my, what could this possibly sound like? Pretty damn amazing, it turns out. Death's Symbolic was my gateway to extreme metal subgenres. Everything was darker, angrier, scarier - and I loved every bit of it! After discovering the charging war machine of Bolt Thrower's The IVth Crusade, there was no more turning back. No more traditional heavy metal or thrash metal. After this, I was swallowed up by the raging death metal monster!
Dissection - Storm Of The Light's Bane
While once again traveling through the depths of YouTube, I came across Bathory's Blood Fire Death. I liked the epic intro with the sounds of horses galloping through the heavens, but couldn't stand the raw vocals. In the comments section I saw people referring to Bathory as the founders of black metal. Later, while revisiting the comments section of Death's Symbolic video, one user told me to check out some black metal. There was that word again. He suggested that I start with Dissection's sophomore release and Immortal's At The Heart Of Winter. I did, and I was completely blown away! Bitter cold soundscapes enveloped me as the charging guitars and relentless drum beats propelled me to a bleak world - the world of black metal. Storm Of The Light's Bane was the first black metal album that I enjoyed, and it still remains one of my favorites of all time.
Edge Of Sanity - Crimson
Inspired by the top death metal albums of Metal Storm, I decided to check out this bizarre-looking album by Edge Of Sanity. Vibrant green and red cover art, only a single song on the tracklist, an endless assortment of riffs, growls, and clean angelic singing, and all coming together to tell a terrifying dystopian tale. Crimson was my first concept album and my first exposure to the genius of Dan Swanö. For a good couple of weeks this album was my obsession and the intricate guitar work was restlessly working its way through my mind. It wouldn't be the last time that I was amazed by Swanö's inexhaustible talent.
In Flames - The Jester Race
Searching for more death metal on Metal Storm, I discovered In Flames's The Jester Race - my introduction to the Gothenburg style and melodic death metal in general. Later I discovered the masterpieces of Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates. The greatest melodeath album in my opinion remains Be'lakor's Stone's Reach, but I will never forget that The Jester Race was my first love.
Entombed - Left Hand Path
Continuing with Swedish death metal, I soon discovered the style of old-school death metal. Entombed and Dismember offered a whole new brand of heaviness with their buzzsaw guitar sound and gory lyrics. Around this time I also became a fan of Sepultura's two classic death/thrash masterpieces: Beneath The Remains and Arise.
Summoning - Minas Morgul
Having at this time recently read J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, I was pleasantly surprised to find Tolkien-themed metal. Blind Guardian's Nightfall In Middle-Earth was a fun listen, but I wasn't prepared for the epic atmospheres of Summoning. Admittedly, I was initially disappointed by the raspy vocals and I couldn't listen any further, even though I loved their instrumental work. That all changed when I finally was able to appreciate harsher vocals with Vektor....
Vektor - Terminal Redux
Vektor's Terminal Redux was at first absolutely unlistenable for me. A raging wall of noise flooded my senses - indiscernible instruments and raspy, shrieking vocals that I just couldn't handle. But something made me always come back and try it again. After weeks of failed attempts, I listened to "Cygnus Terminal" and it finally clicked. I was intrigued by this dystopian tale describing the cost of immortality, and I realized how perfectly the strained vocals fit to the music. The harsh vocals carry so much emotion that just couldn't be expressed any other way. My experience with Vektor taught me endurance and an openness towards discovering more extreme music styles.
---Metal Storm Registration—
Necrophobic - Nocturnal Silence
Finally, in June 2021, I decided to register as a user and join this community of fellow metal addicts. And soon I found myself with plenty of recommendations. Thanks to AndyMetalFreak, I decided to check out Necrophobic's debut. And once again, this marked a life-changing event. Was it death metal, was it black metal? All I knew was that this was the most evil thing I had ever heard! The satanic lyrics, the eerie melodies - so diabolical and yet so captivating - it scared me and entranced me. The Nocturnal Silence, along with Lord Belial's Enter the Moonlight Gate (recommended by Qualeen), awoke my interest in the blasphemous side of metal.
Testament - The Legacy
Testament's The Legacy was another recommendation by AndyMetalFreak. Other than Sepultura, Testament was the first thrash band I listened to outside of the Big Four. And I instantly found a liking to it! With the vocal style of early Metallica and intricate guitar playing of Megadeth, this album showed me how nuanced and badass thrash metal could be! I tried out other bands as well such as Exodus and Overkill, but none of them spoke to me as much as Testament. This caused me to revisit a band that I had rejected before. And that brings me to...
Slayer - Show No Mercy
Just like with Iron Maiden, Slayer's Show No Mercy wasn't my first exposure to the band, but it's the album that finally made me a Slayer fan. I had first listened to some of Slayer's classic songs like "Raining Blood" and "South of Heaven" already in 2019. But I hated the whining guitar solos and the chaotic song structures on Reign In Blood. That all changed when I decided to start from the beginning of Slayer's musical career. Right from the start of "Evil Has No Boundaries" I was hooked: the unrelenting energy combined with ultra-heavy riffs and exquisite guitar solos reminded me so much of Judas Priest's Painkiller, even though this was released 7 years prior! After clicking with Show No Mercy, I was finally able to enjoy the dark, merciless atmospheres of Seasons In The Abyss and Hell Awaits. Still, Show No Mercy will always remain my favorite Slayer release and one of my favorite albums in metal - period!
Lucifer's Fall - III - From The Deep
That's right: a modern release! III - From The Deep by Lucifer's Fall was my first exposure to doom metal (not counting Black Sabbath, which I mainly regarded as traditional heavy metal). When this appeared on the 2021 album recommendations page here on MS (thanks, nikarg), I was intrigued by the intricate artwork depicting utter insanity. Right after hitting the play button I was blown away by the devastating riffs, the horrific lyrics, and the grand vocals summoning a monster from the deep. Since this release I've tried to look for similar doom albums and have found bands like Pentagram and Trouble. The only album that topped this was the masterful Epicus Doomicus Metallicus by Candlemass. But to this day I haven't found another band that perfectly mixes awe-inspiring and menacing vocals with underworldly riffs like Lucifer's Fall!
Rotting Christ - Thy Mighty Contract
Intrigued by the "Getting Into: Rotting Christ" article by nikarg, I gave Thy Mighty Contract a try. This became my introduction to Greek black metal. Up to this point I had thought that black metal only came from Scandinavia. This album, though, was special. It offered a certain calm, entrancing atmosphere that I had never witnessed before. Overall, Thy Mighty Contract was simply another masterpiece that helped me ease my way into the raw black metal style.
Autopsy - Severed Survival
Next, I discovered Autopsy's Severed Survival after reading nikarg's 200th review. This beautifully rotten album caused a resurgence of my interest in old-school death metal that had started with Entombed's Left Hand Path. Now I turned to exploring death metal made in the USA, such as early Death, Obituary, and Morbid Angel. Meanwhile, in the Dutch scene, I found the great sickening vocals of Asphyx and Pestilence. Death metal had proudly become my favorite subgenre.
Iced Earth - Burnt Offerings
Looking through Redel's top 200 albums list, my eyes were drawn to the ominous red cover art of Burnt Offerings by Iced Earth. I saw the genre label of "power metal" and prepared myself to hear the cheesy falsettos of Helloween or Blind Guardian (my only brief experiences with power metal up to that point). I in no way expected the heavy riffs and powerful singing that attacked me instead! With angry vocals, powerful biblical lyrics, and an epic closing descent into Hell, this album showed the power in US power metal!
Wintersun - Wintersun
Winter had started in Germany. And Wintersun's eponymous debut became my companion on icy walks across the university campus. I also gave Summoning another shot and fell in love with the epic atmospheres of Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame and Oath Bound. Sometimes there's nothing better than walking through cold weather surrounded by the sounds of wintry metal.
Amorphis - Elegy
Amorphis's Elegy marked the beginning of my interest in progressive metal. The elegant melodies and the alternating growls and clean vocals were very intriguing to me. This led me to further research Dan Swanö, and I soon discovered the masterpiece of his solo project: Moontower. I also revisited Opeth, of which I had heard only some songs off of Blackwater Park. My first impression had been that the music was good, but I preferred Swanö's songwriting. However, after trying out Still Life, I realized what true beauty Opeth were capable of creating.
Emperor - Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk
Up to this point I had always preferred Swedish black metal: Dissection, Sacramentum, Lord Belial, etc. Most Norwegian black metal was too raw for my liking and my disappointment with In The Nightside Eclipse caused me to shy away from anything Norwegian-made. However, once I gave Emperor's Anthems To The Welkin at Dusk a try, I was hooked! This was an immense improvement over their debut in my opinion: more nuanced, more variations in vocals, and alternating melodies with rampaging storms of metal. After listening to Mayhem's Live In Leipzig, I finally learned to appreciate those classic Norwegian black metal albums by Mayhem, Dimmu Borgir, Burzum, and Darkthrone.
Moonspell - Wolfheart
My introduction to gothic metal was Moonspell's Wolfheart. To me it sounded similar to black metal but with melodic elements that made the music totally unique. I also listened to Irreligious, which strengthened the melodic approach, but to this day I still prefer the rawer sound of their debut album as well as their EP Under The Moonspell. After this, I found my way to albums by Paradise Lost, Type O Negative, and Tiamat.
Mercyful Fate - Melissa
Although "A Dangerous Meeting" was my first encounter with King Diamond, listening to Melissa while walking through the fog-shrouded university campus was how I got hooked! I was fascinated by the evil lyrics, the catchy melodies, the dual guitar attack of Denner and Shermann, and of course the unmistakable cries of the King himself. Afterwards I listened to Abigail from his solo project, but I preferred the rawer, aggressive style of Mercyful Fate, which unsurprisingly influenced Slayer and Metallica, the founders of thrash.
Therion - Theli
Therion's Theli was my first encounter with pure symphonic metal. I was dubious of the cover artwork, which looked like a poor Photoshop job, but once the orchestra-backed melodies kicked in, I was utterly consumed! So mesmerizing, so awe-inspiring, this album showed me how boundless the possibilities of metal are, how akin classical music is to metal, and how I should never judge an album by its cover!
Nile - Annihilation Of The Wicked
Just as with Vektor, getting into Nile proved to be a difficult task. But, after many failed attempts of trying to decipher "Cast Down The Heretic", I was finally able to break through the wall of noise and find enjoyment in the beautiful chaos of brutal death metal. I became fascinated by the unique approach that Nile chose by using Egyptian-themed lyrics and oriental melodies mixed in with that sheer aural brutality. After having overcome this hurdle, I fell in love with the acclaimed None So Vile by Cryptopsy. With meaty riffs and a vocalist who sounds absolutely deranged, I can understand why many judge this album as death metal's crowning achievement.
Dream Theater - Images And Words
I had enjoyed discovering Blind Guardian's Nightfall In Middle-Earth in early March 2021. But since then I had been utterly enveloped by the extreme metal subgenres. Finally, I decided it was time I returned to some lighter metal. While I enjoyed individual songs that I came across (like Helloween's "I'm Alive", Stratovarius's "Black Diamond", and Rhapsody's "Emerald Sword"), it was difficult for me to enjoy entire power metal albums. The flourishing guitar work and lofty vocals were good only in small doses. But then I discovered Dream Theater's Images And Words. While it only has the genre label of progressive metal on Metal Storm, the beautiful melodies made me appreciate the style of power metal as well. This appreciation continued as I discovered talented bands like Symphony X, Kamelot, and the catchy speed metal of Running Wild. While I'm still not a regular listener of this type of metal, thanks to these bands, I now have a better understanding of the appeal of European power metal.
Pantera - Cowboys From Hell
After these escapades of black, brutal death, prog, and power metal, it was refreshing to return to the unrelenting adolescent energy of thrash. Pantera's Cowboys From Hell provided just what I needed. The groovy riffs of "Cowboys From Hell", the emotional melodies of "Cemetery Gates", and the absolutely crushing breakdown followed by the technical guitar solo of "Domination" all exemplified how much musical class was packed into this masterpiece of fun! This caused me to revisit older bands like Anthrax and early Megadeth, making me appreciate once again the genius of simple, rude thrash.
Gojira - The Way Of All Flesh
When I first listened to Gojira's From Mars to Sirius, I wasn't impressed. The riffs seemed repetitive to me and I didn't like the shouting vocal style (although I did enjoy "From The Sky"). However, once I gave The Way Of All Flesh a try, I immediately fell in love. The crisp production, the insanely talented drumming, the crushing riffs - this was my gateway to the "heavier" progressive metal of the 2000s. This inevitably led me to check out other acclaimed modern releases, and I came across Mastodon's Leviathan. Again after an initial dislike of the anti-melodic vocals, I've recently realized what a masterpiece Leviathan is, and what musical potential this "sludge metal" truly possesses.
Isis - Oceanic
It didn't take long to go further down the rabbit hole of sludge, leading me to its more atmospheric cousin: post-metal. Scouring Metal Storm for a new genre to latch onto, I was hooked when I listened to the grand, mesmerizing soundscapes of Isis's Oceanic and Panopticon. After that I was drawn to one of DeliciousDishes's favorites: Neurosis's Souls At Zero. It took me only a few spins to click with this entirely unique flavor of metal, full of eerie audio samples, psychedelic instrumentals, obliterating riffs, and thought-provoking apocalyptic lyrics.
And that leads us to the present day, after more than 3 years of discovering metal and 1 year on this life-changing site. I want to offer my sincerest thanks to Metal Storm for introducing me to such a diverse and awe-inspiring genre of music, and for welcoming me into a beloved, caring community of fellow metalheads.
Who knows to what distant realms my metal journey will take me next? All I can say is that I can't wait to find out!
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