How I discovered metal again…

Manowar picture
I still like Manowar but they can be very difficult to take seriously sometimes…. (http://tyrannyoftradition.com/)

I am sure some of you know I used to be a bit of a metal head. There was a period in my life where most of what I listened to was heavy metal or hard rock. I quoted Manowar lyrics such as “If you’re not into metal, you are not my friend” and “Heavy metal or no metal at all”. It makes me cringe a bit now (as does Manowar for that matter) but I was a teenager so it’s OK.

My favorite band was Iron Maiden. I went to their concert in 1999 when they did the Ed Hunter tour. It was a really big thing for me. I was 12 at the time and I had worked in the summer for the money to go. The concert was in Helsinki and I only got to go because my friend Indrek went with his family. After that concert I was absolutely hooked on Iron Maiden.

Many bands followed. The previously described Manowar being one of them but bands like AC/DC, Metallica, Kiss, Hammerfall, Black Sabbath, Dio, Alice Cooper etc. all were part of my playlist. I even listened to some more cryptic stuff like Vintersorg and Grave Digger. Thanks to Vintersorg, the first phrases I knew in Swedish were “Till fjälls” and “För kung och fösterland”. Badass!

I consider myself a music lover. I think I have always been one, ever since I was tall enough to reach my fathers turntable and play Queen and Rock Hotel albums. As a music lover you are never really satisfied with one style of music. You can’t be, I think. The constant need to find new music and more interesting sounds will always take over and push you to find NEW music in almost every genre. So naturally, as years went on I started listening to less metal and more other styles.

I have found myself thinking every now and again that it has been a long time since I listened to Iron Maiden even though I used to listen to it for almost every day for many years. It used to be one way I defined myself – I went to their concerts, I wore their shirts, I knew the lyrics and played the riffs on the guitar. Now I was more into jazz and Frank Zappa or whatever… Metal was pretty much out of my everyday playlist. It never really went away, it just stopped being exciting.

I am finally getting to the point where I talk about re-discovering metal, so if you’ve gotten this far, cudos! I love Spotify as it has been a new way for me to discover really cool music. I always look at the little sidebar that shows what my friends are listening to and get really cool ideas. One day I saw my friend Reedik listening to a lot of Gojira and decided to check it out. This led me down a very interesting path of modern metal where bands tend to fuse many different styles together with aspects of metal and hard rock music. That way they create sounds which are somewhere in between genres, music that is hard to define. This is just the kind of thing I like. When I was younger I used to listen to modern metal as well, not just 70s and 80s stuff. Bands such as System of a Down, Rammstein and Marily Manson were among my favorites but this new find was different.

The interesting rythmic elements, very hard and fat guitar sounds, sometimes clear, other times screamed and even growled vocals make the bands I found less radio friendly but a lot more music lover friendly. I will give a short overview of some of my favorites.

Gojira is where I started. It is a French metal band and their music is a very interesting technical variation of death metal. They play complex riffs in strange time signatures and have very rough vocals. I love their guitar sound.

Mastodon is currently my favorite modern metal band. They are not very new (like most of the bands in my list, they have several years and albums behind them) but their sound is. They seem to reinvent a lot of their music with every new album and try to incorporate more pop music elements into their otherwise not-so-radio-friendly sound. Their last 2 albums “The Hunter” and “Once More Round the Sun” are absolutely amazing. So much so that I actually ordered both of them on vinyl.

Baroness is a a very new find for me. They have a cool tradition of naming their albums with colours such as their latest “Yellow & Green”. They merge alternative rock with elements of metal so they might be a good start if you don’t like too heavy stuff. Their older albums are a bit more rough but amazing as well.

Animals as Leaders is a very groovy group as well. Led by the Nigerian American guitarist Tosin Abasi, I can best describe it as  “crazy jazz metal instrumental music with eight string guitars and complex rythms”. Check out their latest album “The Joy of Motion” to see what I am on about.

I have taken the liberty to put together a playlist on Spotify with some of my favorite tracks from the bands I mentioned. If you have some free time hit play, take your favorite beverage, hot or cold, and sit in a comfortable sofa or chair. This music really opens itself when actually listened to.