Last month, I discussed how I got into black metal despite not being completely into it at first, as it wasn’t what I originally perceived it to be. Despite this, and the research that led me into it, I now enjoy it and consider it a genre of choice. Thus, in addition to these genres, I also got introduced to several others at the same time.
Over the years, with every new band popping up and old favorites continuing to release new music, metal has become a sort of bullet hell where your quiet space changes every second because you never know who’s going to release new music next. This has gotten progressively worse, as writing reviews and essays has led me down to not only pay attention to what I like, but also having to pay attention to new releases that may be relevant to both my research and my recommendations.
Because of this, it’s taken me some time to fully separate them into their perceived labels, as labeling genres can get both technical and very messy, especially when there are influences of other elements infused in the music. Thus, this month, I have decided to list one album of each genre I became acquainted with between 2008/2009 and now. Of course, I will expand on each genre when the time comes, but have a preview of what will be coming in the next few months.
These have been listed from most explored to least explored, as it will give me ample time to look into some of these genres that I have been trying to get to for a long while now.
More (sub)Genres, More Gateway Albums…
Symphonic Death Metal
For symphonic death metal (again, death metal is not my thing), the album that led me there was Eternal Tears of Sorrow’s Chaotic Beauty. Although released in 1999, I didn’t get to it until 2010, as I was looking for bands in that subgenre and picked this one at random. Later, this album became a much-loved one after I managed to get a copy of it, and then shelved it after I had enough. I only listened to their newest this year, and I will be returning to Chaotic Beauty at some point to discuss the gateway albums in that genre. Considering that this stemmed from symphonic metal, there will be a lot to choose from.
Melodic Death Metal
Instead of starting with the Swedes, I started with Danish melodeath band Mercenary and their 2006 album, The Hours That Remain. I originally thought these guys were a power metal band, given how majestic the vocals were. I won’t be discussing it at length here, but this album eventually kicked off my fascination and eventual descent in melodeath. I also had some help from one of my friends, who may or may not be a melodeath connoisseur in his own right. I also have the distinct feeling that my choices may be met with skepticism, as some of the bands I got into during this time have since moved away from the melodeath genre in order to explore other genres (i.e. In Flames).
Instead of the obvious choice – Rammstein – the band/project that made me love industrial metal was Pain, Peter Tägtgren’s side project. I encountered the song “Bye/Die” when I was 13, and it has remained a staple in my life. Thus, when I was able to listen to the album where this song was originally from – Dancing with the Dead – I jumped straight into it and never looked back. Although Peter’s other band, Hypocrisy, could easily get a mention in the previous section, I didn’t get to them until years later, in early 2016.
Before you go off and tell me that Amorphis is not a folk metal band, hear me out: when I first got into them, I totally thought they were. I started off with the song “House of Sleep,” but the album that got me started was The Beginning of Times in 2012. This led me to pursue their catalogue from that point forward and see what I enjoyed. Now, they do have folk elements in their brand of death metal, so I was totally into it. After getting as far as Tales from the Thousand Lakes (while skipping three albums), I decided to see what else folk metal had to offer, and I started that sometime in 2015. I will get to that later.
Although I may love Katatonia with all of my being, Dead End Kings was not my first introduction to doom metal. That would be Draconian’s A Rose for the Apocalypse, an album that both fascinated and terrified me. For the first time, the vocal combination that I saw a lot in symphonic metal was being used in another genre, but I wasn’t sure what it was. It turned out that, years later, Draconian is actually a doom metal band, but because one of their singers is female, they got the symphonic metal label. Of course, I now know the error of my ways.
I know what you are thinking: “Hera, this isn’t going to evolve into a Devin Townsend Project section, is it?” While I will never shut up about Devin Townsend, his myriad of music styles, and his diverse output since ending Strapping Young Lad, I won’t be mentioning him on this. Instead, I will be mentioning some albums that cemented my love for progressive metal. One such album is Pain of Salvation’s Road Salt One, which was one of the more interesting albums I listened to in order to see what this band was about. I will also discuss Ayreon, which was one of the first projects I heard before DTP.
The first time I learned about mislabeling a band as a genre was back in my fandom days, when people – myself included – noticed that there was a difference between gothic metal and symphonic metal. To this day, I have no idea what the difference is – I think it’s thematic – but everything got lumped under symphonic metal regardless. However, one album that got cited and recommended to someone who was interested in gothic metal was Tristania’s Illumination, which I checked out. Eventually, I went through Tristania’s discography and then hopped into other gothic metal bands.
Because my introduction to power metal was Kamelot, I didn’t feel the need to fully step outside of my comfort zone for years. Thus, when I decided to listen to Blind Guardian’s Beyond the Red Mirror in 2016, I went in without knowing anything else about the genre. Of course, I have dabbled in it, but I haven’t had any time to fully dive in. Before he left Twitter for good, Frank actually gave me some recommendations, so I will remedy that and see what else got mislabeled throughout this time.
Well, that was a long list to look forward to.
I am excited to see what I end up revisiting and see whether some of these albums are as good as I remember them. Granted, there is a lot I am missing, so feel free to send me other genres worth mentioning. Also, feel free to send me albums to listen to; I am always looking forward to expanding my horizons.
Tune in next month as we dive into the deep cuts of the past two genres. I know I picked some albums that were important to me, but I have decided to also assemble a list of my own recommended picks to start off with if you are into that sort of thing. After all, it’s time we help pass some knowledge.
Hasta la proxima!