I love it when people ask me what kind of music I listen to. The grin that spreads across my face must look sinister, because the person who asks the question usually starts to look like they're wondering just what they’ve gotten themselves into. My answer hits them like a gust of frigid air: “Death. Fucking. Metal.”
The usual reaction — dumbfounded horror — may amuse me more than it should, but hey, it’s the little things in life, right? And of course, my hapless inquisitor's follow-up (if he or she hasn't made a hastily retreated by then) is this week’s million dollar question: “What the fuck is death metal?”
So ... what is death metal? I, too, asked that question once, and I love when I'm asked to define it. For the purpose of this series about metal, I’ll act as your guide over the threshold, help broaden your death metal horizons — make you one of us. Or at least, understand those of us who listen to it.
“Death metal” is just a phrase — a combination of words used to represent something much bigger. Sure, I could give you a pat definition. However, if you’re reading this, then I’ll assume you've already found all the usual satisfactory facts to answer question in a million different places on the Web and you're seeking something more meaningful and personally insightful. So rather than tell you what, specifically, death metal is, I'd rather share what it means and what it does for those of us who love it.
I am genuinely excited about my upcoming show on Fri., March 7 at the Local 662 in St. Petersburg. You would believe me if I told you it was because T-Quest and the Boyz Wit Da Bass along with Da Beav and I are opening for 2 Live Crew, a legendary rap group that can legitimately lay claim to being one of the most controversial acts in American music history.
As pinch-me-to-make-sure-I’m-not-dreaming worthy as that is, when you’ve shared stages with Cypress Hill, Canibus and as many members of the Wu-Tang as I have been lucky enough to, goose bumps are a little harder to come by.
The reason I’m most enthusiastic is because the promoters who brought 2 Live Crew to town actually don't suck. Find out what I mean after the jump…
One of these moments changed my life forever.
March 3, 1996, State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Headlining the bill was Tampa’s own Morbid Angel, a death metal colossus and the first extreme metal outfit to ever sign a contract with a major record label. Two prime purveyors of Sweden’s legendary “Gothenburg Sound,” Dissection and At the Gates, played in support. I was 15 at the time and though I was already a metal fan, this show transformed my interest into an obsession and introduced me to an underground scene I’d previously been unaware of, one that welcomed new converts into the fold with the sort of goodwill that seemed in direct contrast to the harsh and heavy sounds we all loved.
In no time, Smiths followers were popping up in droves everywhere, boys (and plenty of girls) easily identified by the look they'd adopted from their new-found hero — worn t-shirts, cardigan sweaters and, the dead giveaway, chunky horn-rimmed glasses, an obvious nod to the "Moz."
I’m about to pose a question, but before I do that, let me say this: I already know your answer.
And furthermore, your answer will be wrong.
OK, here it is: Who is the most important American musical artist of the last 50 years?
For those of you who feel like playin’ along, take however long is necessary to come up with your answer (which I already know). Directly below is a placeholder. Scroll down when you’re ready.