Eleventh standard, shortly after my friend had an accident, I discovered I just didn’t like popular music anymore. Rascal Flatts and B.oB. had a lot to contribute to my transition into becoming a metalhead.
I guess it all started when I was searching for ambigram generators on the Internet. I logged on to one particular site and a song started playing. It was Fozzy’s Let the Madness Begin. At the time, I had no idea what metal sounded like or what it consisted of. The only metal song I knew then was Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters, which I considered as rock as it was very light and my conception of metal was that it was noise. I don’t know where that idiotic thought came to me from, nobody had talked to me about metal ever before or made me listen to it. The opinion had just appeared, in my mind. Well anyway, this song caught my ear as it was something totally new and different from Timbaland and other miscellaneous artists I used to listen to and was much heavier than the Metallica song. Well, that was the inception of my enlightenment.
The next band that I started to listen to was Children of Bodom. Boy, that escalated quickly huh? Well, I had asked my friend to recommend some metal bands to me, Children of Bodom was the only one he’d listened to. But the first song of theirs I heard – Are You Dead Yet? – I loved immediately. This happened within a month of listening to Fozzy for the first time.
I know what you’re thinking, how does one go from listening to popular music to listening to melodic death metal in such a short time?
I don’t know, I probably have a good understanding of music.
I’d learnt to play the tabla and mridangam in Carnatic style for four years earlier, and had played in a few kacheris accompanying vocalists. No training or experience whatsoever in western music. Did Jaska Raatikainen’s double bass impress me because I was from a percussion background? Probably. Also, maybe Alexi Laiho (lead guitar and vocalist of Children of Bodom) is just that good. I say that because some of the party-music-listening people in my class too liked the sound of the guitars of Children of Bodom. Of course, nobody liked the vocals.
Nobody who listens to death metal for the first time gets the vocals. Growling or screaming is just noise for them. But there is actually a deeper meaning to it. Not everyone can growl. It requires a lot of talent and years of practice to be as good as Alexi Laiho or Randy Blythe (from Lamb of God). Even if you can growl, being good at it is something different, entirely.
I feel that unlike most pop music, metal contains actual music lyrics, which most people of the current generation have forgotten. Songs of legends such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden contain entire stories (Dance of Death- Iron Maiden) and albums are based on particular themes (A Matter of Life and Death – Iron Maiden; theme – war).
Why is metal better than other popular genres that you hear on the radio? – it requires talent, hard work and practice. Years of practice. I think that pop, hip hop and party music require no talent whatsoever. Come on, anyone can ‘rap’. It’s just speaking, but fast. All popular music is made on the computer and with a simple download of music making software like FL Studio, you can make your own music, and well! Hell, I’ve used FL studio and made a couple of songs. All you require, to make music on one of those things is practice for a month or two, really. Time you require to learn the guitar or keyboard or drums – years.
All these observations made me realise how metal is real music. Within a short span of time, I’d converted many others into metalheads too. And they now proudly say that they too are metalheads.
The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are of the author’s alone and do not reflect the views of 19a, all its editors.
Vivek Chandrakant (Architecture)
Illustration by Siddharth P Kumar (Mechanical)