Look What I Missed: Part Deux

So how does one become a fan of Death metal? It's a question burning in the minds of absolutely no one, so I thought I'd answer it with several rambling paragraphs and the link to a killer debut album. Will the fun never start? For me, my CD collection is like its own concept album. There is certainly a story to be told there and if I really wanted to, I could organize it to reflect the evolution of my taste in music. Though some will argue that it's not "really" a metal album, Faith No More's "The Real Thing" was my introduction to metal of any kind way back in 1990. Not only was the sound coming out of Jim Martin's Flying V the greatest thing I had heard in my life up to that point, it helped set me on a path towards left-of-center music. Much of the 90's was spent listening to some big metal bands: Metallica, Pantera and Tool; some smaller ones: GWAR, Ministry and KMFDM, before getting really, really into Hardcore and Post-hardcore (Earth Crisis, Snapcase and 108). Despite all this heaviness, Death metal was no where to be found in my CD rack. Obviously, someone who was willing to listen to both metal and hardcore took to Metalcore like a duck in mud or a drowning pig or some such idiom. By 2003 bands like Killswitch Engage, Unearth, and Meshuggah were on constant rotation in whatever beater-mobile passed for daily transportation at that time. Those bands have their limitations, however. As a fan of all things progressive in music (the first records I remember listening to were Jethro Tull's Aqualung and Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery), the three and a half minute Metalcore template just didn't satisfy after a while. Symphonic and Power metal bands filled the gap nicely, but many lacked the heaviness that my ears so richly deserved. Enter Gojira. Flipping through channels one day on SiriusXM, I landed on Liquid Metal for some background music in the house. "Explosia," the first track on their 2012 masterpiece "L'Enfant Sauvage" came on and my first inclination was to turn it off. Seriously, I was that adverse to anything death or black that I was going to switch over and find some Seals and Crofts or something. It was Joe Duplantier's and Christian Andreu's twin-lead guitars that first caught my attention. Synchronous and clean and balanced to within a whisper of perfection in the mix, it was the tone that I had been waiting for my whole life and didn't know it. And then Joe Duplantier started singing. That was the make or break moment for me. The range, power and clarity of Joe's voice; the fact that it was not a static, indiscernible growl, that held my attention. That track ends on an extended instrumental fade that wasn't necessarily the heaviest thing I'd ever heard, but it was non-linear. No verse/chorus/verse/bridge/refrain formula; the outro made me want to hear how the rest of the album progressed. Within the week I owned "L'Enfant Sauvage" and have since purchased physical copies of all six Gojira records (one month at a time, of course). Though not a strict Death metal band, death is in their DNA and they were in every sense of the word the gateway for me into the world of extreme metal. So you find yourself a fan of one band that has roots in Death metal, but that doesn't make you a "fan" of the genre yet, and I'm the first to admit that there are plenty of sub-genres of extreme metal that still don't appeal to me. But as I began to explore other bands that would ultimately come to dominate my listening experience over the next several years, I came across a few that seemed to close the circle, if you will. Be'Lakor gets the nod as my 2nd love, and Dutch duo Shylmagoghnar is undoubtedly my third. Released in 2014, "Emergence" is a melodic and atmospheric death metal album of the highest order. There are nods to everyone from Death to Iron Maiden to Puppets-era Metallica to be found here. Fans of progressive rock who might be looking to explore death metal would do well to start with "Emergence" as there are extended instrumental passages that I found to be incredibly engaging. Shylmagoghnar has been cool enough to allow streaming of the entire album on YouTube, provided it's not used for politics or profit. As we abhor politics here at the Abyss and I'm still waiting for that bag of pizza flavored combos that the boss promised me for all of my late-night blogging, we're safe to share this beautiful and dark album with you all. In all seriousness, thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read my posts. I've been writing about music for years but I've never found a site as accommodating and open to new music and ideas as The Metal Abyss. This really is a fan site for fans and I hope that you're enjoying what I'm bringing to the table- even if it takes me a long time to serve it. Rage On! JPR

*Editor's Note: There will be no pizza flavored combos eaten on work time.*

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