I grew up around punk rockers. In those circles, you weren’t allowed to listen to heavy metal music. That was for “heshers” and dirtballs in shop class with bad mustaches and cut-off sleeve Judas Priest shirts. Now I’m 35 and I have no friends or circles to tell me what to do. And in my wizened, lonely and bored age I have unexpectedly stumbled onto heavy metal. And I kinda like some of it.
My favorite thing about metal is that they don’t shun genre naming like other types of music do. In fact, they embrace it. There are so many VERY specific sub-divisions of metal and it tickles my nerd brain. So here’s the sounds that turned Mike Brody into a reluctant heavy metal warrior:
Doom Metal: Normally, I hate copy-cats. But there are two bands that groups can rip-off and I’ll always dig it: The Ramones and Black Sabbath. And if you’re in a doom metal band, that means you’re aping Sabbath. And it’s glorious. It’s slow as sludge and thick as molasses and I wish more bands would do it. This is the kind of metal you listen to in your parents’ basement with black lights and magic mushrooms, while your boss fires you over the phone because you haven’t showed up to work at Home Depot for a week and a half. Total loser rock. For the sake of clarity, Dio-era Black Sabbath is not doom metal. That’s castle metal. It’s got swords and castles (duh) and dragons. Ian Gillian-era Black Sabbath is called shit rock. I told you there were a lot of genres!
Recommended bands: Black Sabbath (obviously), Kyuss, Pentagram, Cathedral, The Sword, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, Witchfinder General, Sleep, Goatsnake, Count Raven.
Death Metal: I like death metal in general, because of it’s similarities to hardcore punk. If you get rid of the guitar solos, changed their clothes and had them sing about politics instead of rotting intestines it would practically would be punk rock. And if you go further down the rabbithole, you have the Swedish death metal bands like Amon Amarth and Unleashed, who sing about vikings and Norse Mythology. Sold and sold! You could sell me a plastic tiara in a bag full of horse poop if you threw in a little jingle about Odin. Why are these Swedes singing about viking longboats and not politicians? Because “Fuck His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden!” doesn’t have a very good ring to it.
Recommended bands: Obituary, Death, Repulsion, Napalm Death, Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, Nile, Meshuggah, Amon Amarth, Unleashed, Entombed.
Norwegian Black Metal: I’ll be honest, this genre scares the shit out of me. The music is loud, dark, minimalist and repetitious with croaky vocals like the world’s most pissed off toad fell into a Lord of the Rings movie. Oh, and in the early to mid 90s this scene was full of church burnings, Satanism, suicides and murder. So there’s that. A black metal musician named Count Grishnackh stabbed to death another black metaller named Euronymous. You can’t make that shit up. Count Grishnackh, whose real name of Varg Vikernes apparently wasn’t sufficiently Norwegian enough, went to prison for 21 years and was just recently released. These aren’t your Midwestern Lutheran Norwegians who serve lutefisk and kringlas and think that dancing on a Sunday is a sin. These are the kind that will put your brain in a stew and eat it. Swell guys!
The problem is, not all of these bands are into Satan and all this evil stuff and it’s kind of hard to tell who’s for real and who’s just playing Alice Cooper or trying to piss people off. Bands like Immortal and Enslaved seem to be just bands. But bands like Gorgoroth really do seem like evil dudes who would literally be Sauron-worshipping orcs if they had the choice. And I’m not a superstitious guy, but if there’s even a 1% chance that Satanism is real, I don’t want to screw with it. I know, I’ll just listen to the lyrics and see what they have to say. Um, never mind.
Recommended black metal: Immortal, Enslaved, Darkthrone, Celtic Frost. Anything after that I’m too big of a pussy to listen to. The power of Christ compells you!
I’ll send you all off to bed with this 30 minute black metal documentary featuring Gaahl from Gorgoroth. The last two minutes is probably scarier than any horror movie you’ve ever seen. Sleep well!