Friday, October 01, 2010

My Metal History, Part 4: Law School

Law school presented challenges and opportunities as far as my metal listening. I had become disconnected from the other people I knew who listened to mainstream metal, and didn't really get to know anyone else who listened to metal. Because of that, I had to go and seek it out myself.

The Internet provided everything I needed. First, I looked more into metal's roots, getting a handful of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest albums. Maiden didn't click with me right away, and Priest never really has, but at least I was getting exposed to it. I also got on a female-fronted band kick, picking up Nightwish and Lacuna Coil albums. But I never forgot my love for Meshuggah, so I picked up the rest of their catalog as well.

In my second year of law school, I published my Top 100 Metal Songs list on this blog, with mixed success. I probably wouldn't consider more than a dozen of those songs if I were to do the list again today. I also realize that doing a list of the top songs (instead of albums or bands) is a very mainstream-oriented way of doing things. The greater success of that list was that it got A LOT of traffic (and still does), and many a pissed-off commenter introduced me to something else I didn't know about. This is how I learned about Children of Bodom, among others.

Around that time, I also went back to other things that I wasn't ready for earlier, including Death, Iced Earth, early Sepultura, and Dream Theater, and they really started to click for me.

One day, while at my soon-to-be-in-laws' house, a TV had been left on in the kitchen. It must have been on Fuse, but the video for DevilDriver's "Hold Back the Day" was playing and it blew me away.

I had been a fan of Coal Chamber before, and always loved Dez Fafara's vocal style. But DevilDriver's debut sounded like a less interesting version of his old band. This was completely different, and opened my eyes like few bands had before. In my attempts to find similar music, I also found Lamb of God, and my law school contemporary Metallattorney introduced me to Trivium (whose album Ascendancy is actually pretty good).

(This was the only version I could embed. I hope the Spanish subtitles help you out.)

Toward the end of law school I became more and more hungry to find something else that sounds like Meshuggah. The band's sound obsessed me. So, I decided to search them out by nationality, and found this list of the top 10 Swedish metal bands. The list was mostly composed of melodic death metal bands, a sound which clearly influenced DevilDriver and Lamb of God, so those bands prepared me for it. I really liked this darker, heavier sound, and appreciated all it offered me, but it didn't sound like Meshuggah.

 So, I also read reviews, mostly from Allmusic, to try to find references to other things. This led me to discovering Therion, My Dying Bride, Theatre of Tragedy, Lake of Tears, The Haunted, and, best of all, Cynic. At the time, Focus was their only album, but it was the closest thing to Meshuggah I had found so far.

Today, I've given up on finding another Meshuggah--I don't think it's out there. But these bands I discovered during law school set me on the path to darkness. I hadn't yet made a clean break from the mainstream (I probably will never fully give up on it) but it had finally taken a back seat to Trve Metal.

Even so, the only death metal I really knew was mostly melo-death, and I didn't listen to any black metal. It wasn't until after law school that I became the extreme metal freak I am today.


  1. That's kind of the way it was for me in law school as well. I touched on black and death metal some over the years, but it wasn't until I was out of law school that my metal collection exploded and I became so interested in the extreme genres.

  2. I know this post is almost four years old, but I would highly suggest revisiting Judas Priests catalog. They didn't hit me like Maiden did, but over the years I have grown to like them probably as much. And in all fairness they are more important to metal than Maiden. Priest truly did it all, and did it better than most. My two cents.