Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My Metal History, Part 3: College

I went to a small Christian college. This isn't just a college with historical ties to a church--"Concordia University, Nebraska is an excellent academic and Christ-centered community equipping men and women for lives of learning, service and leadership in the church and world."

So, as you might expect, there weren't a lot of metalheads around. Luckily, my freshman roommate was one of the few. He introduced me to bands like the Deftones (his favorite at the time) and Tool. I also made fast friends with a guy who lived down the hall, and he introduced me to Alice In Chains, among other things.

I started expanding my metal horizons in two directions. First, I got into some more mainstream things, including the whole rap-metal thing (fortunately I didn't listen to that for very long) and groups like A Perfect Circle, Mudvayne, and Disturbed. But I also started to get into harder, more obscure things. My favorite track on Metallica's Garage Inc. was "Mercyful Fate", so my friend from down the hall and I started listening to Mercyful Fate. At first, the vocals were kind of a turnoff. But there was no midpoint of tolerance for King's vocals for me--as soon as I got used to them I embraced them.

One time we went to a record store, and I picked up Mercyful Fate's classic Melissa. When checking out, the clerk patronizingly said he went through a "phase" of listening to darker music too. I can't tell you how much that comment pissed me off. Is it a phase when you've been listening to it for as long as you've been listening to music? By that time I had already been listening to metal for five years. I didn't say anything then, but I often thought about what I wish I would have said. "So, this is your d***head phase now?" "So you were a poser. Big deal." "And when did your balls fall off, exactly?" The pompous douchebags who work at record stores are one thing I don't think anyone will miss as we go to buying music online.

Another time, we were in Lincoln, and later in the evening saw a sign: "COC Tonight!" We were extremely pissed that we hadn't heard about this in time.

This was the 2000-2001 school year, the height of Napster's popularity, and nearly everyone was downloading free music. We ran across covers of bands we knew by bands we didn't know, and randomly found a song here and there. This was the first time I heard groups like Necrophagia, Soilwork, and In Flames. They remained curiosities in my collection until I started collecting Soilwork and In Flames later on. (I never have gotten into Necrophagia. Maybe I should.) The college eventually capped everyone's Internet usage, so we generally reformed ourselves earlier than others did.

In my sophomore and junior years, I roomed with my friend (formerly from down the hall), and I started listening to more (comparatively) out-of-the-mainstream and harder stuff like Slayer, Motörhead, and Black Label Society. I also started listening to my Meshuggah a lot more.

I did discover some good Christian metal while going to the school. Foremost among these were the thrash/metalcore group Living Sacrifice and the closely related death metal group Soul Embraced. Along with Meshuggah, these were the heaviest things in my collection at the time, and I started listening to them a lot. I'm fairly certain my mom got them for me. Thanks, Mom!

Another important milestone in my metal history was a gift from a music student I knew: He let me borrow a Dream Theater album. I wasn't crazy about the progressive stuff at the time (I grew into it later), but I liked it enough to buy one myself when I found a used copy.

I had a conversation with my freshman adviser during my junior year, and observed that the metal thing was not a phase for me, that everyone just assumes being into metal is something for youth, and people grow out of it. I observed that the opposite trend was happening to me, as I just wanted heavier things.

I also went to a few shows during college. One was Static-X and Skrape, another was Rob Zombie and Sinisstar, and the last was A Perfect Circle. The first two were with a friend from high school who had gone to my first concert with me. The third was with the woman who became my wife, although she didn't really want to be there and was frightened by the whole ordeal. (I wonder how she'd do at a Watain show?)

During my senior year it didn't seem like I had enough money or time to get into any new music. A lot was going on then, and I had to get ready to go to law school. Law school would be where I really started getting into underground metal.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't had too many run-ins with record store clerks. On a few occasions, they have been helpful.

    Necrophagia is okay, but nothing really special. I wouldn't have gotten into them at all if it weren't for receiving a free CD in an online order. My older brother was the one that always told me I was going through a phase, because he did. But he only listened to Metallica, Megadeth, Danzig, and White Zombie when they were all over MTV in the early 1990's.

    I went to that Rob Zombie concert with my girlfriend at the time.