How to Appreciate Metal: A Four-Step Guide
Step Three: Get to know the people capable of making this divine noise.
After picking one or two bands from each subgenre, crank your speakers to maximum overdrive. (Don't worry. It needs to be loud.) Then turn down the lights, close your eyes and listen. Do you hear it? No, it's not an earthquake. It's the sound of a screaming guitar reverberating through your house. It's okay to move your head backwards and forwards as the music rises in pitch. Once it grips your soul, scream as if nothing else matters. By sunrise, either you'll find a style to appreciate or you'll spend the next month using a hearing aid while a mental health worker processes your papers.
Of course you don't want to make a rash decision about which subgenre you prefer without understanding the escapades of the thrashers and fans behind the music. For less than $20, pick up a used copy of a riveting rock memoir to add more depth to the screaming. For example, in Joel McIver's Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica, you'll take a trip with the Hetfields and the Ulriches and watch as they rise to MTV dominance; and in Brian Welch's Save Me from Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs and Lived to Tell My Story, (a fucking mouthful, I know), you'll learn an old adage from the road: shooting meth is dumb.
Now reading about rock stars using old heroin syringes to squirt their own blood all over the Hyatt Regency's walls tends to take a person to a not so-happy place. Thankfully, not all metal stars are repeating the antics of Guns n' Roses Izzy Stradlin, who fell into a coma after balloons of heroin exploded in his stomach. Most singers are just making music with their friends. It's like playing in their garages ... only bigger. Drugs are just a bonus for some and a demon for others. "It just goes with the territory like groupies and roadies," says the old rocker sitting next to me at the strip bar.
Step Four: You're ready. Get off your ass and go to a show. For best results, get as close to the blasting as possible.
Listen to the classics. Check. Find a subgenre (or two). Check. Read about a rocker's spiral into addiction. Check. There's just one thing left to do: attend a live show. Several metal acts are coming to the Dallas area: Warbeast at the Rail Club on April 6, Anthrax at the House of Blues on April 9, and Sevendust at the Palladium Ballroom on April 28.
If you prefer something a little more intimate, check out Suicidal Tendencies (think - "[Sid] Vicious meets hardcore thrash metal") at the Granada on May 7; or Nile at Trees on March 30. The guys and gals who staff these joints will make the evening more pleasurable with drink specials as these bands ignite the stage.
Once inside the venue of your choice, don't just stand in the back like some kind of over-aged stalker. Move to the front. As you slide between attendees, avoid the sea of moving bodies in the middle, or a flying elbow might knock you out. It's best to stand next to one of the monstrous speakers towering over the crowd. From this vantage point, you get a clear view of the stage. Don't be afraid. The loudness hurts, but it's a good feeling. Just move your head until the vibrations in your bones separates your soul from your body, and then you'll finally understand what it means to soar with the music.
One-hundred-and-twenty minutes of pure adrenalin. Guitars blazing, bass grinding, drums pounding. Blood, sweat and tears. Art and technique taken to the extreme. The music will leave you breathless when it's over. Sex doesn't compare (although it runs a close second). Think of it as a musical orgasm, but it'll take days for you to recover.
Now where's my Cannibal Corpse CD?