Thursday, May 21, 2020

Albums That Defined My Musical Tastes – Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”


The Master of Puppets, he’s pulling your strings.

While I was deep into the 80’s hair bands, I slowly began discovering metal music. My brother Marty was way ahead of me as he had been introduced to Slayer and Metallica by his buddy Todd Tarasoff years before that. I didn’t care for it at first, but like all music, it starts to grow on you the more you listen to it. It was so much more powerful than the glam metal, and it seemed like these bands had more to say, and played faster, harder, and with more precision. I think my brother loaned me his “Master of Puppets” cassette, so I cut my teeth on that one and then consumed all the rest greedily.

After savouring Metallica’s discography, I moved onto Anthrax, Megadeth, Sepultura, Pantera and explored the thrash and groove metal genres. Then the grunge metal scene was born and after hearing Alice in Chain’s “Facelift”, I was obsessed. My buddy Evan Wappel was the first guy who bought that album and it blew our minds. It was slower than the metal music I was used to, but just as heavy, and the lyrics were darker, grimmer, and in some cases decidedly disturbing. I didn’t like all of the grunge bands and stuck mainly with Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, and the other Chris Cornell offshoots.

The death of the grunge era birthed a new genre of music called nu metal and I dove into bands such as Slipknot, Korn, Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine, Soulfly, and especially System of a Down. Our kids were barely walking when System of a Down came out and I’d take them downstairs and teach them all the classic metal moves – devil horns, neck rotations, the “windmill” guitar strum, the scissor kick, and mosh pit elbowing, usually to System of a Down cranked to 9 and I’d just scream over the music whenever the eff-shots came up in the lyrics. The kids loved it, although I’ve failed miserably at turning either of them into metalheads.

Along the way many progressive metal acts surfaced and I love bands like Baroness, Animals as Leaders, and Opeth, but truly worship Tool and Mastodon. In fact the Tool album “Undertow” was nearly the choice for this post…it’s so hard picking just one.

As I get older, my metal interests seem to be going in one direction – heavier. My morning playlists usually contain songs by Cannibal Corpse, Amon Amarth, Gorguts, Behemoth, Death, Slipknot, and always Gojira – my current favourite metal band.

I met a right cool dude named Chris T at a party our friends Dave and Silvia were having a few years ago and we started talking music and I learned he was the guitarist/vocalist in a metal band called “With Authority”. I was intrigued and we talked about his band and the metal scene in Toronto. I then asked him what metal bands he liked and he started naming off bands and genres I’d never heard of, so I grabbed my phone and started hastily taking notes. I then asked, “What other sorts of music do you listen to?”

“Just metal,” he replied.

“Just metal?”

“Just metal.”

“So you don’t listen to any classic rock, no progressive rock, nothing like Rush or any experimental stuff, or even any pop or electronica?”
He looked at me and said, “Just metal.”

Now there’s a guy dedicated to the genre!

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