Grymm KittyBack in 2011, the ever-insightful Steel Druhm penned an excellent piece on being an older metalhead. It’s a very well-written, short essay on what it’s like to be a mature metalhead when many of your peers and colleagues have since moved away from our hallowed music genre of choice. As someone who is just a little over a year away from hitting 40, I’m going to expand on this subject a little, and also toss in something that usually is a bit alien when it comes to getting older and loving metal: taking someone who’s never listened to metal and introducing them to our favorite artists and albums.

Like Mr. Druhm, I get bizarre looks from people on the street whenever I’m driving around with Voices or High on Fire cranked up to insane volumes. I also get uncomfortable stare-downs when I walk around my local Publix wearing a Rotting Christ “Lucifer Over America Tour” t-shirt. Explaining these to most passers-by is an exercise in utter futility, as whenever I do so I get a “Have a Blessed Day!” before they walk away all mortified and confused. Even my own partner, who loves CrowbarPantera, and Orphaned Land, can’t fully get behind some of my more abrasive music choices. Not to generalize (and the reason why is coming), but I completely understand the reason for this kind of reaction from older people. Metal is a genre rife with rebellion, anger, and fighting against the status quo, or at least on the surface it is. Naturally, people who weren’t brought up with it aren’t going to understand, nor will they attempt to do so.

But here’s where the script is flipped. Whereas Steel Druhm noticed many of his peers musically “grew up and moved on” (my words, not his), the vast majority of mine cling onto metal to this very day. For many of us, it’s the soundtrack of our lives. I’ll always remember where I was the first time I heard Kyuss‘s “Demon Cleaner,” or the excitement of death metal-meets-Iron Maiden when I first saw Carcass‘s “Heartwork” video played on MTV’s Headbangers Ball. And although their stories will vary greatly from mine, many of my peers and friends will stand up and say that, although our tastes have diversified greatly, metal very much has a permanent place in our hearts. Maybe it’s because we’re a different generation than Steel‘s, but we all get it. It’s not just displaced anger or unrelenting rage. Many of our favorite songs are a time-stamp of who or where we were when we first heard them, and that’s okay. Not everyone who’s older will appreciate it like we do.


Or so I thought. Last year, one of my friends who will be 50 in a few years and is a big fan of electronic dance music admitted to very rarely listening to anything heavier than Metallica. He asked me to make a mix CD of bands I believed he’d enjoy, as long as they had good chorus and a decent beat. So I went ahead and made one that was heavily drenched in classic power metal, modern thrash, a bit of doom metal, and a couple of really brutal death and black metal songs, thinking it would be a great gateway. Oddly enough, of all the songs I burned for him from my own gimongrous CD collection for him to check out, he latched onto this in a rather unhealthy manner. Yep, picture two grown men, driving up and down the relatively quiet Short North district of Columbus, terrifying unsuspecting shoppers with Anaal Nathrakh blaring from a tiny orange SUV.

He now has an appreciation for metal, as well as a few new favorite bands to check out. This taught me that instead of holding someone’s hand as they tip-toe into metal’s icy waters, sometimes dropkicking them directly into deeper, scarier end of the pool works wonders. It also taught me that age really doesn’t mean anything when it comes to exposing people to new sounds, even if said sounds are as gentle as showering with sulfuric acid while scrubbing yourself clean with a rusty brillo pad and key-lime juice shower gel [You mean Axe Body Spray?Steel Druhm].

So folks, no matter who tells you otherwise, metal will always be seen as music for the rebellious, the eternally angry, and the immature to outsiders. Let them feel that way, and continue enjoying the music you love, even if it’s outside heavy climes. This is the soundtrack to your story. Also, if someone shows an interest in metal, don’t be afraid to expose them to your favorite sounds. The end result may pleasantly surprise you.

  • You wot m8?

    I have an older friend who has been a casual metal listener for some time, Slipknot, Metallica, Pantera, etc… I very recently had the pleasure of trying to find a more interesting metal genre/sub-genre that would tickle his pickle. While I originally thought that he might like some of the more mainstream metal groups, out of all the recommendations I made, he was most fond of the crushingly-heavy and slow stuff. So I created a new Doom: VS fanboy. It felt good.

  • Iain Gleasure

    Perhaps Grimm has the benefit of a certain group of friends but as a mere highschooler myself the only people I’ve ever introduced metal of any kind to simply haven’t liked it. My friends all much prefer K- Pop or electronica and any attempts to show them the folk or power metal I adore has been met with blank faces.
    Grimm, I think you’ve penned a great piece, but I personally think you’e in the minority of metalheads here.

    • You wot m8?

      Most certainly not.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      High school? Oh boy… Shit gets better eventually, don’t worry.

      • Iain Gleasure

        eh it’s Canadian high school so I’ve never heard of any serious popular crowd or bullying. Everyone just sorta stays in their own little group of friends.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          As a Canadian who attended high school a long while ago, this is true. The “outsider” narrative that always seems to accompany metal never held true for me. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing?

          • JWEG

            I actually felt like a bit of an outsider in (a Canadian) high school, but I apparently managed to find the only one in town where social standing was in any way taken seriously.

            I figure it’s because the school was populated by upper-middle-class kids who were all overcompensating for not having parents quite as well-off as the very-nearby private school, though.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Please tell me any fights that happened had copious amounts of apologizing…we have stereotypes to uphold here!

          • JWEG

            I’m pretty sure all fights were limited to during hockey.

            Which meant they happened constantly, but were only outside maybe 9-10 months of the year.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Hockey fights are the best part of the game!

          • Monsterth Goatom

            I’m Canadian as well, and the High School I went to back in the eighties had a very distinct clique of Metalheads. To other people you could’ve said “Flock of Seagulls” sucks, and they would just shrug their shoulders, even if they were fans. If you were to say to one of the metal guys, “Ozzy sucks”, it was pretty much: “By the bike rack after school, buddy!”.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            We had a clique of straight edge mallcore kids who would always make fun of the death metal folks, which were basically my friends and I. We were a friendlier death metal group I suppose, the worst we did was call them emo kids and laugh at how salty they got.

          • [not a Dr]

            The fighting in our highschool was mostly against “les osti d’anglais”.
            I don’t believe apologies were part of it.
            French-Canadian stereotypes also require thoroughness.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Is it because they demand them in two languages?

          • Iain Gleasure

            I’ve got the outsider narrative to be honest. It’s just that all my bullying occurred before high school.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Have never been at either end of the bullying thing, I’ve got no proper idea how metal relates to it all. It seems reasonable to assume it had a positive effect though, which is awesome.

        • Nukenado

          Chiming in 2 years late.
          Being a Chinese student in a Canadian high school, I’ve never encountered bullying, just being ignored. All my attempts at preaching metal have gone unnoticed, and I was (kind of) called having shit taste by one of the older students in the drama department (yes, I’m the drama kid) for listening to TBDM. He was the only person in my school that had affinity with metal that would talk to me on the subject (he wore Bathory and Mastodon shirts around the school).

          I guess to have people talk to you about music, you need to be interesting to talk to :(
          I feel like I’m feeding the stereotype of metal being for angsty kids…

      • [not a Dr]

        Cégep (Québec’s college that’s equivalent to the last year of highschool + the first year of university) was awesome.
        Metalheads, rockers and punks from all the schools in the region in large enough numbers as to not be seen as oddities…

  • Kronos

    Fantastic post, Grymm; you never fail to get me thinking. Last year, a very close friend of mine asked me to show him some good metal – he didn’t listen to metal at the time but wanted to see what it was that I was so crazy about. This was during the darkest time in both of our admittedly young lives. I don’t remember everything I gave him, but the very next day he came to me and said that, much as I had weeks earlier, he had become enamored with Plebeian Grandstand’s “How Hate is Hard to Define,” an album cracking with more hate and anger than anything I’ve ever heard.
    This was unbelievable to me; that someone who had never so much as listened to a Metallica album was suddenly obsessed with the meterless lurch of “Nice Days are Weak” or the outpouring of omnidirectional loathing in “Easy to Hate, Hard to Define.”
    I think this sort of experience speaks to the degree to which passion unites people. I’ve never seen someone latch onto metal that I gave them that I thought was appropriate “entry level” material, they always pick something that I care about, but I thought was too extreme for the uninitiated. It’s a slap in the face to elitism that I didn’t realize I have. When you love something, you have to realize that other people can love it, too, and that means that it’s worth sharing. Never again will I underestimate music like that.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I think that there is aging which is inevitable and then there is getting old which is more about ones state of mind.
    As a 42 year old fella I definitely have way less friends my age into heavy music than I did as a ‘young’ person but i still enjoy exchanging and discovering new bands with them as much as I ever did.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    To add to this piece, I think it’s also worth, as a metal fan, to keep an open mind toward other genres. Two years ago I got into old school hip-hop and last year I started listening to more electronica (particularly synthwave). Metal is not the be all end all and expanding your horizons is never a bad thing.

    On a different, slightly controversial note, I don’t think it’s out of the ordinary to get looked at funny on the streets by wearing satanic imagery. Besides supporting the band do you think you look cool wearing a shirt with dead babies impaled on Satan’s pitchforks out in the streets? If you really think you do, that’s cool but for my part, I would never wear something with explicit violence or satanic imagery.

    • You wot m8?

      I wear my Behemoth shirt underneath my jacket whenever my father has me accompany him to his church. ‘Cause I’m a rebel.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Both of these points are great. To add to the controversy, it’s pretty embarrassing hearing people echoing the anti-Christianity stuff out in real life because they seem to think that being militantly anti-religious is required to love extreme metal. It comes across as edgy in the funny way.

      • Alexandre Barata

        Hey, are you talking about me?!?! Ahahah I do believe that being militantly anti-religious isn’t required to love extreme metal, but is required to be a biologist, and although I know I’m wrong, I can’t understand why.

        Anyway, I see people wearing nice, clean, expensive suits that are complete assholes, slave-traders, love partner-abusers, etc. so I tend to not care much if anyone wears a Marduk’s “Fuck me Jesus” shirt or a “Praise the Lord” one.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Of course I’m not! I wasn’t trying to suggest that the clothes make the man at all, but there’s a time and place for over the top band shirts and people wearing them with for the express purpose of shocking passerby come across as rather juvenile, like people who refuse to tuck in dress shirts with tails in public for whatever reason. It just comes across as silly to me when people talk in real life like the lyrics of “Autotheism” out of nowhere.

          • André Snyde Lopes

            Yes, exactly this.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I’d agree with both those points, particularly your first I think my enjoyment of metal is heightened by appreciating it in the broader context of popular music.
      This year I’ve been really enjoying digging into the catalogues of 70s yacht rock artists like Steely Dan, Toto, Doobie Brothers and Supertramp along with some great contemporary bands reviving this sound. I find it fun to switch between albums like Steely Druhm’s opps I mean Dan’s ‘Aja’ and Horrendous’s ‘Anareta’

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I agree that expanding your horizons is never a bad thing. I listen to a wide variety of music. But to me Metal is the be all end all. Everything else just serves to remind me how great Metal is.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Disagree. When I listen to Kendrick Lamar or Miami Nights ’84 or Bach I’m not sitting there thinking “man, I wish I was listening to metal”. If I was thinking that I would just stop and actually listen to metal.

  • Pimpolho

    Me, as a really really (really) young metalhead recently was asked by a friend what kind of music i liked; I said: “some obscure shit, you probably won’t like it” and returned the question. I was blown by the answer, it was something like “not sure if i’m as obscure as you, but i really dig bands like Darkthrone and Rotting Christ”.


    • You wot m8?

      Damn, that’s some obscure shit right there. That dude’s hardcore…

      • Pimpolho

        Actually, it’s a lady, but hell yeah.

  • iagree84

    My wife has been exposed to my favourite sounds for over a decade now. I’m getting new headphones for christmas.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      This should be the feature comment :)

    • Alexandre Barata

      After the 1st month with my ex-girlfriend she bought me an mp3 player.

    • If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend the Audio Technica ATH-M40x headphones. They’re the best “bang for your buck” in sub-$100 headphones in my opinion. I have the previous model which, but I love these headphones. They are very neutral sounding, so the bass isn’t over emphasized like on many “consumer” level headphones, yet the highs and treble are as clear as they should be.

      • iagree84

        She either got me the ath m50x or the sennheiser hd598. Thx for the suggestion though, I like to look up what’s good price/value for most things anyway.

  • GooberMan

    One of my fondest memories was in the passenger seat of my best mate’s car driving around Bribie Island one day, right on the eastern side of the island. The usual yobbos and dickheads were out and about. So we decided to crank up the Portal CD I had, wind the windows down, and act like we were cruisin’ with the dodgiest, bassiest electro/RnB in existence.

    Good times.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Haha I don’t know if people outside Australia will know the term Yobbo but they will know who you’re talking about straight away!

  • Thatguy

    I suspect I’m older than all of you.

    I got into metal after a youth of progressive rock then many years of jazz (especially the more ‘out there’ jazz) and contemporary ‘classical’ music.

    I’ve got nothing to prove – I just love music and this music in particular. My wife tolerates it and I have turned my son into a metal head and both will go to gigs with me.

    You don’t grow out of a love of music and if you are hearing more than simply a middle finger up at the world (not that there is anything wrong with that) you will keep listening.

    • motobass4321

      I am closing in on 50 and have gotten into metal in the last two years. I enjoy a wide variety of genres, love music, and it took just the lightest push to get me to listen to metal too – I owe that push to a guy named Scotty. A lot easier to do now with bandcamp and other free ways to listen and decide what to spend your money supporting. Plus, the community and the writing here is top notch.

      • Thatguy

        I agree with all of that.

        I love Bandcamp.

    • sir_c

      Age does not mean a lot. My dad is 63 and he enjoys most of the metal I let him listen to. And that selection includes some abrasive stuff.

  • Dion Ka

    Well i can’t talk about the being an old metalhead as I’m only 22 and got into metal when i was 15 but i also introduced my peers to metal. I mostly listen to Black and Doom Metal and so i made mixtapes for my friends. For one i made “rhythmic, melodic, and good choruses” and i introduced here to satyricon’s wolfpack when she never heard Metal before. On the second Mixtape of that type i included Anaal Nathrakh’s “Idol” and Origin’s “The Indiscriminate” as the last tracks and she very much liked it. One of my friends who was really into pop music but also horror movies got a Doom Metal mixtape and she loves both i made for her. I even made her the tape “The Abyss” which contains Electric Wizard, Ataraxie, Crimson Swan and Electric Wizard and Now i can go to concerts with her because she most oftenly likes the same bands. I even made a mixtape for my mother called “beautiful metal”, that was quite a challenge not knowing much heavy and power metal at all.
    I love making mixtapes and introducing other people to my music and got generally got reactions from that. In the end they should like it and so it takes me along time to create sort of an album flow on my mixtapes.
    As much as i love sharing music, i love it when other people show me the music they are crazy about.

  • Alexandre Barata

    I don’t think music and maturity are related. I used to listen to lots of Mozart when I was a child (around 5 years old) but I wasn’t more mature than many people listening to Rihanna nowadays. Also, at the same time I would listen to Punk, to childs’ song, to portuguese Folk, and to anything that made me feel that warm feeling in my chest, that would make me break into an hyperactive state of running and jumping. So I can’t think in any way that people who listen to something are less mature than others.

    I do believe that the kind of music one listens can be associated with other traits, as imagination and scientific thinking, but that’s for another time :)

  • JWEG

    About 13 years ago I took a random summer elective University course on the history of heavy metal – led by an old folk-hippie whose only qualification was that she sang in a folk-rock band but was otherwise academically qualified only as a theatre instructor. The course itself was very short and technically “taught” by the students themselves: every lecture was 90% student presentation on one sub-genre or other followed by 10% of her disagreeing with students interpretations of facts or history.

    I took on Heavy Metal for my week. So I presented, only to discover that she had a bias against the genre that manifested itself in two ugly ways:

    1) A low maximum mark for having not gone into great lengths about its theatrical/folk roots at the expense of all the rest of what shaped its early history.

    2) Her dismissal of the genre, manifested (poorly) as a comment in front of the rest of the class about something my presentation failed to address: “Heavy metal is for angsty teenage boys who lose interest once they grow up and get a girlfriend.”

    I still have that quote burned into my memory because – quite apart from the blatantly unnecessary heteronormativity of it – her dismissal of the whole genre that I had just committed to academically exploring without bias after 23 prior years of only casual acquaintance so thoroughly annoyed me that I began a personal exploration of the genre just to prove her wrong. A series of CBC and NPR interviews on heavy metal’s more accessible-but-not-mainstream over the next two years led me even further down the rabbit hole (one from 2005 about Týr stands out in particular).

    I’ve been digging in all directions ever since. And the same University now has a regular summer course just on the History of (and appreciation of) Heavy Metal, led by an avowed metalhead and actual PhD-level scholar on the subject, and has held both a colloquium series and a mini-conference on the genre both developed in part by a Student Union-recognized Heavy Metal Student’s Society. It’s not quite enough to forgive that past misstep, though…

    …mind you, had it not been for that insult, I’d not now realize how much of one it was actually. So maybe I should be partially grateful…


    • Refined-Iron Cranium

      That’s harsh. Although, it does make me wonder why people are so quick to dismiss heavy metal that way. 99% of the time, those who dismiss metal have heard one or two songs or have heard the music in passing (through media / friends). I have rarely seen people dismiss other forms of music the same way they judge metal and it honestly boggles my mind. I’m not saying everybody should appreciate metal, but it baffles me that to so many people think metal is solely music for angsty teenagers.

      But hey, at least that insult got you into finding more good stuff.

      • Iain Gleasure

        Personally, I’m always confused by the “angsty” teenagers part. I thought Radiohead was for those teenagers and metal for the angry ones!

      • bloodvictor

        A lot of metal has a high barrier to entry in the sense that unlike most genres it’s not something you can intuitively ‘get’ and enjoy on a first listen. A lot of that is its abrasiveness – it literally just sounds like noise to people, and they genuinely can’t hear the riffs or melodies. It takes a while to ease in. But people are lazy and don’t want to and they’d rather find another way of explaining why they don’t get it, and it’s much easier to say that the genre is shit and anyone who listens to it is a member of a group that I shouldn’t take seriously anyway.

      • DoublePedalGangstaMetal

        Isn’t gangsta rap and a lot of hip hop in general dismissed just as easily by people who either loathe it for what they think it represents, or by having heard a song or two in passing (including by a lot of metal aficionados)?

        • Refined-Iron Cranium

          Thing is, gangsta rap is still accepted by the majority of people. I can still go to work and hear someone play Kendrick Lamar or Rick Ross from their phone speakers and it’ll still be marginally acceptable music to most people, which wouldn’t be the case if I was doing the same with, say, Entombed. I’ve really only seen classical / metal music snobs turn their noses up to rap / hip-hop, most people are either accepting of it or neutral towards the music.


        People always dismiss what they don’t understand like that. It’s the same reason you see people on metal boards who know every subgenre of pornogrind but dismiss rap or EDM or whatever as “not music”.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I have learnt more from listening to Metal than from going to University.

      • SK94301

        sorry, but it sounds like you’re going to the wrong university…

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Sorry, but it sounds like you’re listening to the wrong Metal ;)

          • SK94301


          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I was joking when I said you´re listening to the wrong Metal. But I was serious when I said I have learnt more from listening to Metal than from going to University.
            I learnt English as a second language from listening to Metal.
            I learnt about the Charge of the Light Brigade from listening to Iron Maiden´s “The Trooper”.
            I learnt about Joseph Mengele fron listening to Slayer´s “Angel Of Death”.
            I learnt about the Kalevala from listening to Amorphis.
            I learnt about Witold Pilecki, Audie Murphy, The Night Witches, Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler, to name a few, from listening to Sabaton.
            I learnt about the sinking of 17th century Swedish warship Kronan from listening to Falconer.
            I learnt about Thiess of Kaltenbrun from listening to Powerwolf.

            I learnt about Egyptian mythology from listening to Nile.
            I learnt about Norse mythology from listening to Amon Amarth.
            I could go on …and on …and on…

    • Iain Gleasure

      I’d like to know where you went. i’m curious simply because the only music prof I’ve ever really heard of is Rob Bowman at York University in Toronto. My Mum had his classes before she went to teachers college about 10 years ago now and she loved them.

      • JWEG

        I was hesitant to spell it out, since it kind of contradicts my winter-weather joke below (we don’t actually have much more than a year-round wet Autumn). I’m currently at the University of Victoria. So was I for that previous course.

        You point me to acknowledging an interesting difference between the two courses: that old version of the Rock History course was indeed taught within the Music department. The Metal Studies type course, on the other hand is based in the English Department [and led by a prof cross-listed in English, Medieval Studies, and Religious Studies] so clearly more about the literary aspect than the musical; but I don’t doubt he has included some degree of music appreciation.

    • bloodvictor

      What did you say to her? I’m quite a confrontational person, I’d have really taken her to task and put her on the spot there.

      • JWEG

        I could definitely be confrontational now that I’ve had much more exposure to the true range in demographics of the metal community.

        But at the time I just let it go, to be honest.

  • Tim Wagstaffe

    I’ve been a metalhead for 28 yrs now (I’m 42) and have had almost no success in getting anyone to even understand why I love the music I do. That may have something to do with the fact that I’ve spent the last 18 yrs teaching theology at a bible college. I often wonder if I’m the only Theology lecturer to have turned up to teach a class in an Iron Maiden T shirt. I’ve always been the odd man out in alot of ways, no one at college or church understands my love of metal and whatever metalhead friends I’ve had over the years haven’t understood my beliefs and profession. I’m passionate about my metal and listen to bands from almost every genre, but its always something that I’ve been alone in. My kids are showing some promise though! Maiden and Gloryhammer are constantly requested in the car, so hopefully I can pass the torch onto them.

    • Iain Gleasure

      I know how you feel. I might only be a high school student but my mostly atheist friends do not understand how my Christanity, metal, and love of biology go together. It’s almost like people only see science or religion instead of seeing how the two shape the each other. And metal’s just shaped by both

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      It seems blastbeats and church have become some kind of dichotomy. It is really unfortunate; I am in the same boat. Hope your kids keep on rocking though dude! Throw some Theocracy into the mix!

    • Innit Bartender

      Man, that’s really a bummer. I have a Catholic upbringing and all but I could always separate my love for King Diamond from my religion… And the worst thing is that I do not think it’s that hard a thing to do… guess I am wrong!

    • Pacal

      I go to church every week but I also hand sewed and studded my battle vest, love going to shows, and even play some heavy metal guitar. Almost 27 years old (been listening for almost 10 years) and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.

    • Irineu Carvalho

      My 10 years old loves Gloryhammer.

  • Wilhelm

    Unlike sports or pornography, it’s never too late to participate in metal (or whatever musical genre you wish). Iron Maiden, Priest and a bunch of others are grandfathers and are still kicking (especially Janick Gers).

  • Genezer

    I don’t think age means that much for us music lovers. I’m 47 and only this year really got into BM, last couple of years I really learned to love Doom. My life is a gradual path of music appreciation. I get into new stuff all the time, while still maintaining my love for the really good stuff I already know.

    I don’t believe in genres much, they’re convenient for discovering new music, related to what you know, so yeah, sometimes I might be seen as a old metal geezer if I’m in a dark and tiny venue listening to some obscure band with 20 other music lovers who are half my age. The next day I can surrounded by other old fuckers at a prog or jazz concert. I might at times even be seen in the neighborhood of bloody hipsters at some electronic gig.

    I think labeling metal as being music for youngsters who are angry at the world is just plain silly. Only people who don’t know the genre say things like that. Sure you don’t need the angry at the world attitude that much any more at my age but good music is good music, whether you’re 16 or 56.

  • Scourge

    I’m 42 and have loved metal since ’84. But I spent most of the 90s avoiding extreme metal. I used to go to Musicland on my lunchbreak and go to the metal section and just drool over the album covers of Empereor et al. But aside from some Cradle of Filth and Children of Bodom, I obstained, and now I lament those unbought albums.

    My son is 22 and I raised him as a single father. When he turned 13 he started getting into music and so we started recommending things to each other. A couple I years ago he asked me if I ever listen to Black Metal and aside from Enslaved’s latest at that time, I still really hadn’t taken the plunge due in most part to the vocal barrier.

    But I started listening to some of his recommendations and then dug a little deeper. He and I have a good time talking about metal (extreme or otherwise) and it got me to go back through the ’90s to enjoy what I missed.

    This coming March we have tickets for Abbath with Skeletonwitch, High On Fire, and Tribulation and I’m stoked!

    • MeatMan

      Wow, my situation is almost identical to yours! I’m 45 and have been a metalhead since ’83. Despite a foray into grunge/alternative rock in the 90s, metal has, was, and always will be the one constant form of music that I enjoy the most and choose to listen to.

      Like you, I also have a 22-year-old son whom I raised as a single father. Around the age of 10 or maybe his early teens, he got into metal, mainly because his old man was a metalhead who had dozens of CDs that contained some of the best metal ever recorded. He continued to listen to metal for about 5 years or so, but then switched fully into dubstep. I blame Skillet … err, I mean Skrillex.

  • Rob

    Publix!!!! Best subs on the goddamn planet, hands down.

    • Grymm

      Their chicken tender subs are the stuff of legend.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I am just over a couple years shy of two decades in age so my initial ventures into metal were rather trivial. I first started listening to metal due to the Burnout games on the PS2 and PSP, getting hooked on tracks like ‘My Curse’ by KSE. I had already become quite interested in bands such as Evanescence at the time (I was 8 and didn’t know anyone who could recommend anything else). Around the time, I had an extremely competitive, World of Warcraft uncle in town with a lot of his Swedish friends. Repeated listens to ‘My Curse’ had nullified my 8-year-old brain to harsh screams and blasting drums, and the transition to albums like Whoracle, Slaughter of the Soul and The Gallery, as well as numerous releases from Arch Enemy were both seamless, and altogether exciting. My Christian parents were fine with metal of all sorts, even going out of their way to dig up metal releases from time to time. I was never told that my musical preferences were uncommon or problematic until I finished my primary education and moved to ‘Straya. By this point, however, metal had become a part of me.

    I think what really struck a chord with me in regards to metal was just how varied it was. In Flames sounded nothing like KSE. Dark Tranquility sounded different to In Flames, and At The Gates were unique in and of themselves. And that was just the surface. There hasn’t been a year in recent history where my year-end list of records has included grindcore, black metal, folk metal, progressive metal, death metal, hybrids, doom metal, and stoner metal, all in just the top ten. As the years have progressed, more people have gotten on board with the massive amounts if creative freedom contained within the ‘metal’ moniker, and if 2016 is anything like 2015, I am both delighted and fearful about the state of my wallet. And while I do love music of all kinds, that is just it. All kinds of music can’t be metal, but metal can and will incorporate ideas of all kinds of music.

    Wonderful write-up, Grymn. I’d like to see the stories of a lot more reviewers on this site in depth!

    • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

      I still remember the day that I discovered In Flames via Whoracle. That eerie cover, that Swedish metal, that amazing instrumental song “Dialogue with the stars”… One of my favourite albums of all time.


  • strychnin

    Yeah, I am being a bit earlier tonight or that year but this is likely my EOY car list ;)

    ásmegin – 03 – hin vordende sod
    atlantean kodex – 13 – the white goddess
    bathory – 03 – hammerheart (reissue)
    borknagar – 97 – olden domain
    castle – 14 – under siege
    dust bolt – 12 – violent demolition
    farmers market – 12 – slav to the rhythm
    fen – 09 – the malediction fields
    guns n’ roses – 98 – lies
    haggard – 04 – eppur si muove
    megadeth – 90 – rust in peace
    metallica – 84 – ride the lightning
    mike oldfield – 92 – tubular bells 2
    norah jones – 12 – little broken hearts
    october tide – 10 – a thin shell
    opeth – 01 – blackwater park
    orphaned land – 04 – mabool
    ozzy osbourne – 95 – ozzmosis
    psycroptic – 03 – the scepter of the ancients
    rhapsody – 97 – legendary tales
    silent stream of godless elegy – 00 – themes
    suidakra – 97 – lupine essence
    summoning – 13 – old mornings dawn (limited deluxe edition)
    the doors – 67 – strange days
    the gathering – 97 – nighttime birds
    the night flight orchestra – 15 – skyline whispers
    therion – the best of
    type o’ negative – 93 – bloody kisses
    týr – 13 – valkyrja
    volbeat – 10 – beyond hell above heaven
    wardruna – 09 – runaljod – gap var ginnunga
    wilderun – 15 – sleep at the edge of the earth
    yngwie malmsteen – 02 – attack

  • savafreak

    I am 37 years, been listening to Metal since I was 20, never thought of metal as a temporary stage or phase in my life, it has and always will be a state of mind, a code, a way of living. Once you are Into Metal, it will stay with you for life, you cannot be metal one day and not metal the other! those who been done that were not true into it, I guess they just were experimenting or going through a phase. As one Metal musician once said its like a Virus, once it is inside of you, it will stay forever. my ears are tuned to it now, would feel nausea of i listen to any other music, cannot imagine a day without having my dose of metal music, would be a really nasty day!

  • I am 37 and my dad is 60-something and I still make him mix CDs. I know I can’t go too crazy with his CDs but he appreciates the classic bands, power metal, and some prog. His favorite band is Nightwish, but whenever I make him a CD, I always try to push the boundaries. For every Epica track, theres something from Ensiferum in there. I’ll follow up Sabaton with Sylosis. He’s never told me to stop, so I guess thats a good thing! :)

    • Dethjesta

      I’ve started to getting my dad (66) newer metal albums, he’s a big prog fan and likes Sabbath/Zeppelin. Got him Ayreon last year for Xmas, but this year I’m gonna try Darkest Era & Myrkur (gotta build up).

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Your dad must be proud of you!

  • Barbacuprum

    my mom was the ultimate typical mellow tunes / general pop / traditional folk sounds loving 40 year old when I introduced Korn to her during my teenage “I don’t know shit about music but lemme listen to the stuff on MTV because our country’s music scene sucked.. she enjoyed the accessibility of it, as well as the approachable tunes..

    then I moved on to the heavy as hell stuff and she was reluctant to be on the listening party.. it took some time and effort; I would blast Meshuggah every now and then and she would say her brain was numbed and that wasn’t a very good idea while she was driving.. yep, that was the only place she wouldn’t get a chance to run away! that was until I introduced her to Gojira. she loved the growls, fell in love with the drums, and that’s the only band name she remembers from our endless musical journeys.. of course in between she got accustomed to various genres hopping through the beautiful tunes of Porcupine Tree, the madness of Devin Townsend, the kindness of Spock’s Beard etc and she soaked the progginess in like a sponge through that period

    now? she usually asks me to put on some new stuff I’ve discovered (many thanks to awesome guys writing here), comments heartily on a black metal album about the crunchiness of the riffs or the bearability of the growls, and she has become my number one go to person if there’s a new band that I’ve fallen in love with

    age matters not.. people just feel like metal is the reason for their angst, and act like business world cannot handle stuff like that, that they need to listen to electronic music to “raise their spirits”.. luckily I’m surrounded by people that jump at the opportunity of making their work day a brutal achievement-fest with the infinite energy The Algorithm pumps

  • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

    I’ll turn 34 in a couple of months and this wonderful piece has brought me a lot of beautiful memories. Every album, every struggle to buy them, every “OMG THIS IS A FUCKING CLASSIC” at the first listen are truly time stamps more than any of the photos that I’ll shoot for the rest of my life. Fuck I even remember the first time I listened Children of Bodom’s “Something Wild”… I was in my house with the flu and every time I spin that record and “Deadninght Warrior” starts to roar it’s like a throwback to that exact moment in time… The music and the brain are so marvelous :___)

    Metal is not my only gig, I grew on a Dire Straits, Genesis, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Police, classical music, spanish music and then discovered the “Epitaph” side of rock (Rancid, Bad Religion, Pennywise) and even Ska and videogames soundtracks, but metal has been and will be the soundtrack of my life.
    I like to wear all kinds of t-shirts, but my favourite thing is when a “plain dressed” person (not a drop of disrespect here, I’m just hypothetical) walks into his or her car, turns the keys and metal starts pounding the asphalt. That is a statement in capital letters.
    I’ll never forget the day I got up in my regular bus and they changed the driver… He was around my age and wearing the corporate uniform. I pulled my earphones and he was listening to FUCKING MEGADETH. IN SPAIN. IN THE PUBLIC BUS. “Dude, is that Hangar 18?… Yeah, good ear… Have a good one! You too!” INSTANT BONDING.

    And, finally, it kinda surprises me how the metal music is seen depending the place: in Spain, Pantera, Metallica and Megadeth are the quite opposite of “mainstream”. Maybe Metallica has two or three songs that are very known, but that’s it. Ah, and that cover of nothing else matters on the piano.

  • Nice article. I’m exactly the same age as you, Grymm. I got into metal partially because of my fathers Sabbath Bloody Sabbath on vinyl, but mostly through Appetite for Destruction (1987) and Alice Cooper’s Trash (1989). I actually only liked the tittle track from Black Sabbath when I was a young kid. The rest was to soft. I was in constant search of something harder, yet I had no source to help me find it.

    Even if few of us are really angry and rebelling teens anymore – hell, AMG is practically an acronym for Anger Management Guy by now – we who have delved long in metal knows that there’s more to the quality within than just fury and rage. Fans of repetitive and simplistic radio music live in ignorance of an entire musical universe. Many seem to think all Metal is one noisy uniform sounding genre. Fuck ’em all. Metal will always be my escape and hiatus from the chaos and stupidity (just watch the news) that makes up big chunks of the world of the blindfolded grey mass. (Okay, I guess there’s still some anger left).

    Anyway, it does sound kind of apt that your friend picked out the one thing needful ;)

    • Grymm

      He’s also dug “Idol,” “Forging Towards the Sunset,” and my personal anthem, “More of Fire Than Blood”.

      I didn’t expect him to EVER get into AN.

  • Innit Bartender

    I am 45 and metal will always hold a seminal place in my life. Although, with time, my attitude towards metal has changed. I can remember the angst of my teenage years, the mental image I had in my head back then when listening to metal was digging undeground, like some mutated animal, going deeper and deeper underground like a worm, in search of darkness and solitude. Back then, Master of Puppets was EXTREME music (I remember sharing it with my Phylosophy teacher in High School, who was into Prog rock, and receiving a disgusted response), Merciful Fate were EVIL, now both are considered almost easy listening. To think of that!
    With time I moved to more adventurous stuff, always dark and brooding, like Godspeed You Black Emperor, up to Shostakovich (and really, do yourself a favour and listen to Dmitri, he’s the Tony Iommi of classical music!) anything that could satisfy my subconscious need for darkness, drone and the feeling of dirty soil over my head. Funnily enough, I never could get into Black. Maybe I was too old when it came out, but really, that style is too much wild and too little music at the same time for me.
    Nowadays this need for darkness has somehow become… lighter. My personal album of the year will be Blind Guardian, with Riverside close behind. Is it enough metal? Couldn’t say. But I still get carried away by a crunchy guitar tone like War Curse.
    So yeah, my relationship with metal has changed over the years and will continue to do so, probably. But I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow it.

    • De2013

      “Shostakovich (and really, do yourself a favour and listen to Dmitri, he’s the Tony Iommi of classical music!”

      Love that quote!

      And I totally agree regarding Shostakovic: really epic stuff.
      Also Rachmaninov.

  • Dethjesta

    I find articles like this really interesting, thanks Grymm.

    I myself grew up on a health diet of American Thrash & NWOBHM but lost my appetite for metal in late 90s early 2000s when the scene was flooded with dodgy ‘nu-metal’. So i went in search of other musical forms and left metal behind.

    I’m rapidly approaching 40 now and In the past 2 years have returned to metal and, to my delight, found that metal is stronger than ever. But, i too get some strange looks from people while i drive past listening to Cattle Decapitation on full volume.

  • Hulksteraus

    Great article Grymm. I turn 40 next March and my music is still coloured by Metal.

    My first exposure was in the mid to late 80’s with my Dad’s Black Sabbath albums and my awe at Maiden’s album cover art (in fact that was what really drew me into Metal – the awesome artwork…).

    My tastes have changed over time and I can remember the first time I heard My Dying Bride’s Turn Loose the Swans, the chill down my spine listening to Dark Tranquility’s Skydancer, The grin when the atmosphere of Satyricon’s The Shadow Throne finally clicked with me.

    I also remember the thrill of my first Metal gig (Slayer and Biohazard at Newcastle Entertainment Centre – Australia) and the multiple Australian Metal bands I got to see in Sydney and Canerra – especially the legendary (well at least in Aus) Metal For the Brain festival.

    My primary music taste is still Metal even now, although my musical tastes have expanded to Prog Rock and ambient as well.

    I think like you, Metal has been the soundtrack to much of my happy moments and has led to many great experiences.

  • John Mosley

    Much of heavy metal draws from the same thematic material as romantic classical music: themes of love, death, and the occult, and I don’t think anyone would label a classical music lover as imature e.g. Hector Berlioz’ Symphony Fantastique, or Wagner’s Ring Cycle. For an early example of dissonance in western music, check out Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue. Paganini shredded on violin so badassedly the legend grew that he had sold his soul to the devil while in prison (pretty friggin’ metal). Delving back further, ‘d like to believe once upon a time there was a caveman making Messhuggah style polyrhythms on a drum and making everyone really uncomfortable…

  • Fun fact: That dude with the headphones on is reacting to Anaal Nathrakh’s crushed production.

  • Chigo

    Great piece, Grymm. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts (and others’) about why we love music that’s often deliberately abrasive and difficult to listen to, and that much of the world would consider noise (I know a lot of metal does not fit those descriptors, but you know what I mean). I’ve tried to explain it, both to myself and others, in a variety of ways, including:

    – the argument that most great, lasting art throughout history tends to be dark, tragic, and filled with pain. I cite the fact that tragedies like Romeo and Juliet and Oedipus Rex are required reading for many high school and college students, yet far fewer read A Comedy of Errors or The Frogs. I ask people to list some of the greatest songs in history, then tell me how many from their list are fun, happy, feel-good songs (same concept applies to film and other forms of art). Then I explain that extreme metal is simply the fullest embodiment of that concept, that pain makes for the best art.

    – I continue with the “metal is high art” argument. I talk about how “metal is not what you think it is,” and I play them samples of some of the most beautiful, emotive, orchestral, and operatic metal in my collection. I show them dazzling displays of musicianship and talk about the links between metal and classical, jazz, etc., contrasting this with simplistic power-chord alt-rock. I talk about the militant veganism, environmentalism, and human rights activism that underlies some of the heaviest music, all in an attempt to illustrate how varied, complex, and sophisticated metal is.

    – I talk about how it’s just fucking cool and sounds bad ass.
    But the truth is, all of these (except maybe the last) are post-hoc explanations I’ve made up to try to rationalize something too abstract and emotionally primal for me to describe. I don’t really know why I like it; I just do. Thoughts?

  • Gaia

    The idea of sharing music is antithetical to it being a personal experience. When one invests their identity in their music choices, in recommending, the pretext is ‘I want people to be more like me’. This suggests a need for brotherhood or perhaps homogeneity, hence scenes arise around the ‘people like us’. Are scenes satisfying? In a loose sense, among everyday friends, they are not. Because we will never be the same. In innumerable instances those who are similar diverge, and this supposed ‘close yet so far’ aspect is often torturous and confusing as individuals. Where similarity isn’t striven for, this abyss between us is comprehensible. Our personal enjoyment is a lifetime’s nourishment. The deviance of our friends is inescapable bemusement, reminding us we all aren’t the same, and in fact alone, isolated with our now refutable perspective. Why can’t you hear what I’m hearing?

  • Kill The King

    Site should be renamed Angry Metal Gays.

    • Grymm

      Rest assured, I’m the only one on here who is, so a singular “Gay” is fine.

      • Kill The King

        Wasn’t a shot. Visit this site every day. Was just too good a play on words to ignore I thought. Wait, I also thought Steel Druhm was gay?? Swear I remember an article on here where he mentioned it.

        • Grymm

          Nope, happily married man to a great woman, he is.

          And no worries. We had more LGBT members in our staff, but many have moved on. Only I remain.


          *puts away plastic Claymore*

          • Kill The King

            Hahahaha nice

        • Is that because I like power metal?? You bigot!

          • Kill The King

            Holy shit I got a Steel Druhm response! Lol nice try, but I’m a fan of the new Gloryhammer…..which I discovered from this site. Thanks!

  • Marc L

    That is a terrific article. As I am pushing 40 myself, it’s reassuring that there are others of my age (older that is) that still listen to metal. I too do not bother trying to explain. When people ask most of the time I tell them. It’s probably something they’ve never heard before and/with indecipherable vocals. m/

  • Oyster Bay

    I’m 45 – I got into metal when a friend who was aghast that I had never heard “Abigail” forced me to listen to the entire album. This was when I was 37. Since then I have become a pretty rabid fan, particularly of black metal. I can’t get enough of it.

  • Vice-President of Hell

    rebellious? i’m young, but i love metal for groove and heavy tasty sound, in most part. all other – goes second