Derailed: Metal/Hardcore 2009 Part 1

Every so often I will be posting under the ‘Derailed’ heading. This is for posts that are outside my normal comfort area…indie rock/pop.

I was a huge metalhead from the mid-80s until the early 90s.  My interest in metal started when I first heard Aces High from Iron Maiden‘s Powerslave album and it became an obsession when I rode my bike down to Nancy’s Records in Auburn, CA and purchased Guns ‘N RosesAppetite For Destruction cassette.  I was hooked! Hangbangers Ball was my favorite couple hours on television and my walls were plastered with pages from Metal Edge magazine.  I used to draw pictures of Maiden‘s mascot Eddie.  I used to dissect every song and research the meaning of ancient Egyptian history or WWII or whatever other references were coming out of Bruce, Dave, Axl or Ozzy’s mouths.  It was a great time to be young and angry and have these guys scream your feelings out your speakers.

But then time passed and so did my interest in these groups.  About the time Metallica released the Black Album and Megadeth went soft, I cut my long hair, moved to San Diego and discovered punk.  I think Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power was the last metal album I bought.

Over the past 20 years or so I haven’t given up on metal.  I just figured it would always be something nostalgic.  I would pull my old metal albums out with my friends who remember it as fondly as I do (and some who don’t) and we’d have a blast singing along and banging our heads.  I would go see Metallica every few years and just hope they wouldn’t embarrass themselves again.  When Ratt or Dokken or some other aging band would play the local bar or fair, I would be there. In fact, I saw Ratt last year and it was awesome!  I would go see Slayer and Megadeth every couple years when they came around.  They never disappointed.  One of my best shows in 2007 was Iron Maiden‘s Somewhere Back in Time Tour where they performed all their 80s material.  I even dragged my wife to see Judas Priest at Red Rocks this year.  It was her first metal show.  Her 2nd was TaunTaun, a Denver-based band, whom she did not enjoy as much.

When it came to new material, I would always give it a chance.  I think I have downloaded every album Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth have put out over the years.  Other than a few exceptions, I have never listened more than once.

But recently metal has been creeping it’s way back into my world.  It’s popping up on Pitchfork and Stereogum.  There are more and more shows coming around.  These shows are getting amazing reviews.  The albums are getting amazing reviews.  What’s going on? (I do know the indie kids don’t like metal darkening up their world and the metalheads want the the indie wimps out of theirs…but that’s too bad!)

I decided to find out for myself and I was actually amazed.  I saw Kylesa open for Mastodon last year and it was one of the best shows of the year.   I saw Baroness and they came close to matching Mastodon‘s performance.  I even saw Trivium with Chimaira and they put on a great show.  I was really liking this stuff.  Especially live!

Now I have some friends who are very educated in modern metal feeding me information.   I can’t believe how many faucets of metal there are now.  It seems the last decade has been an amazing time for metal and I have been missing out!

It’s time to catch up.  These friends are introducing me to technical death metal, doom, grindcoremetalcore, black metal and even modern thrash and progressive metal .  So far my favorite is ‘southern sludge‘.  They are suggesting bands from Finland, Norway, Sweden, UK, USA, and even France.  I have over 50 albums I need to check out from 2009…and then I will start working my way back through the decade. It’s going to be a long, hard road and I’m looking forward to traveling it with bloodied ears!

Mastodon‘s Crack The Skye and BaronessBlue Record made my Best Albums of 2009 list.  Here are 10 others I can recommend right now.  Many more to follow in the coming year.

Ahab – The Divinity of Oceans (doom metal/funeral doom)

Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue (alt metal)

Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect (progressive metal)

Cobalt – Gin (black metal)
Cobalt – Dry Body link

Converge – Axe To Fall (hardcore/metalcore)

Doomriders – Darkness Comes Alive (hardcore)

Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (metal)

Kylesa – Static Tensions (sludge)

Revocation – Existence Is Futile (technical death metal)

Wolves in the Throne Room – Black Cascade (black metal)