Down the Memory Lane

Sometimes it’s fun to look back and realize how goofy your musical tastes were in years past. This blog is primarily dedicated to Hardcore and Metal music, but there were quite a few other genres I’ve fancied along my journey.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, my parents were well cultured musically and that played an important part in my development. I remember listening to Deep Purple’s The House of Blue Light as long back as I remember myself. I had no idea what I was listening to then, but I really liked it. Not sure what my parents were jamming to when I was in the womb, but my love for the guitar music seems to be very deeply ingrained.

When I was in middle school, my best friend started getting into Metal and would play different tracks from Slayer, Cannibal Corpse and Sepultura for me. At that time I didn’t have an appreciation for that sort of music as I was listening to the likes of Scorpions, Cinderella and some Metallica. However, based on my friend’s recommendations I purchased Smash by The Offspring and Roots by Sepultura. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both records, not knowing that Sepultura were well past their prime on Roots.

After that there was a bit of a lull in terms of artist discovery since records were hard to come by in my town and my parents were shifting their attention to some softer music and Russian rock artists. I wanted no part of that. Soon I got The Offspring’s discography as a gift and that had me satisfied for a bit. I also had to rely on musical TV channels as the majour information source, and to be fair, they weren’t the worst back then. They would play songs by The Offspring, Metallica and Rammstein from time to time.

As time passed, there wasn’t really much new to be found for me and slowly, but surely I’ve lost most of my interest in music. I did get my hands on Rammstein’s Mutter album in grade 11 (Fall of 2002) and listened to it from start to finish many times. After I got completely bored of it, the desperate times have returned. I’ve even started listening to the Russian rock band called Tantsy Minus. To their (and my) credit, they were probably the most consistent band of all in the Ukrainian/Russian scene at the time: they had a couple of big hits and several other good songs. I had their ‘Best of’ mixtape and that kept me going for a couple of months.

It was at this low point that my friends from a grade below introduced me to a couple of new artists during our trip to another city in Spring of 2003. The bands I’ve heard then were Korn, System of a Down and a Russian band called Korol i Shut (King and Fool). Of them all, Korn were by far the most memorable. I still couldn’t get a hold of any tapes or CDs by those bands, but I knew I was onto something. Shortly after, my school friend allowed me to borrow CDs of Papa Roach and P.O.D. The era of Nu Metal has arrived!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Papa Roach tracks, but P.O.D. wasn’t an immediate hit. I also managed to get a tape with Korol i Shut’s self-titled album, which, incidentally, was their best effort by far. The next in line was Korn and through some very good luck I was able to get my hands on their discography (minus Untouchables, which was probably for the better anyway). I’ve become a huge fan immediately. Also, all of a sudden I had a bunch of bands to choose from. Linkin Park released Meteora the same Spring and I was listening to that album for a bit as well.

I was a huge Korn fan for about a year and a half, until Fall of 2004. During that time I’ve foraged through the not-so-vast soundscapes of Nu Metal, trying to find something worthwhile to listen to. I’ve spent some time listening to Slipknot, Ukrainian band Skinhate, Ill Nino and (hed) PE. The pickings were slim. There was something else though: on a warm, sunny day in May 2003 my good friend let me have a listen to one of the songs from Diabolis Interium tape by Dark Funeral. When I put the headphones on, I was exposed to something very fast and melodic, but also very dark and cold. That grabbed my attention and when I got a chance to pick up that album in Kyiv a few months later, I did so without hesitation and my Black Metal journey slowly began.

In May 2004 I moved to Canada. That meant a lot of things, but when it comes to music in particular, I had unlimited access to the Internet to get information. I spent days reading through forums and exchanging opinions with people that were into the same sort of music. I kept hearing of this Hardcore genre, but didn’t know much about it. Then I got my hands on a mixtape where there were songs by Hatebreed, Terror, Kafka, Sentence and a bunch of other bands (I then remembered that I’ve heard a song by Hatebreed on TV a while back and it sounded super heavy). I got my hands on the first 3 albums by Hatebreed and gave them a spin. The songs were brutally heavy and simplistic, but one thing I noted right away were the lyrics. In contrast to Korn’s depressive, sometimes suicidal, songs, this music was filled with vigour and provided the listener with a lot of encouragement.

Cause I’ve trusted for nothing
I’ve been led astray
I’ve been tried and tested
But I won’t accept defeat
Now I’ve done things I regret
And its time to reverse the rules
I just want to make good on
All the promises that I have made

I needed this, I was new to the country and had not time to sulk or be nostalgic. I had to make the most of the opportunities that were open to me. This was a point in time when I took a deep plunge in the music scene and was listening to dozens of new bands every month for a few years straight.

Soon after getting acquainted with Hatebreed, I listened a bit to the early Napalm Death records, but they didn’t have much of a lasting impression as I wasn’t sure what I was listening to. I also got a chance to listen to early works from Dark Funeral, which left me quite impressed. I also heard Emperor, Venom and Darkthrone. I enjoyed the former, but was completely blind sighted by the other two. I couldn’t wrap my head around how both were considered Black Metal, but didn’t sound anything like each other or Dark Funeral for that matter. So I put those bands aside for the time being.

I was also listening to Serenity in Fire album by a Canadian Death Metal band Kataklysm, which was probably the heaviest music on my playlist then. Somehow they’ve quietly disappeared from my field of vision and I haven’t gone back to the band since. As time went by I was getting more and more into the Hardcore scene, exploring bands such as Terror, Kafka, 100 Demons, Agnostic Front and Sick of It All. There was another band, well actually just one track – Fuck Up by Face of Reality. Having heard it for the first time in early November 2004, I was listening to the song for a few months straight every day on the way to school. There was also Minor Threat, which had a huge impact on my perception of Hardcore music and social issues in North America. Their music also made me realize that there was a clear distinction between 80-s ‘old-school’ Hardcore and the modern Hardcore music of 90-s and 00-s, where a lot of times it’s difficult to tell the difference between Hardcore and Metalcore.

Later in 2004 I discovered Emo, though primarily just the mainstream bands, so I didn’t find it enjoyable. In 2005 I was exposed to more Hardcore and Metalcore through bands like Abduktio, Kill Your Idols, Walls of Jericho, Champion, Hundred Inch Shadow, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Down, It Dies Today, Bleeding Through and the mighty xMaroonx. I undertook another attempt to figure out what Darkthrone were all about and this time their 2003 album jived with me – I took particular liking to the track Striving for a Piece of Lucifer. I also heard a few tracks from Chimera by Mayhem, but nothing caught my attention there. My exploration of Black Metal didn’t go very far this time either.

Towards the end of Summer 2005 I discovered Between the Buried and Me. Their chaotic brand of music provided a nice break from all the Melodic Death inspired bands. Earlier that summer I also heard the 4 tracks from Argument 5.45’s split with My Authorities Fall. Their music also had this unstructured, all-over-the-place feel. After hearing BTBAM, I was interested in exploring more the same music and that led me straight to Calculating Infinity by The Dillinger Escape Plan. That would be my favourite album for years to come and even in 2016, it still sounds fresh. I actually don’t think it will ever sound out-of-date. Regardless, this set me off on a 3-year long wild goose chase to find more albums like Calculating Infinity and Alaska. Little did I know that there wasn’t much to be found, at least of good quality. I also got introduced to Screamo through Orchid’s Dance Tonight! Revolution Tomorrow! album, which also possessed a lot of that chaos component. (Over the next few years, I would discover more Screamo bands, but their records are ever so difficult to track down, not to mention how relatively few of them are).

In 2006 I got exposed to Deathcore through All Shall Perish, Animosity, Beneath the Massacre and Despised Icon. The genre was starting to pick up in popularity, but I got to enjoy it before it turned into Merchcore, where bands spent more time designing logos and T-shirts than actually rehearsing. I spent the summer working in a small town with limited access to the Internet, so things slowed down a bit then, but I got a taste (or well.. a glimpse) of some of the more extreme (or just pure disgusting) Grindcore bands, of the Goregrind variety most notably. I’ve heard Last Days of Humanity, Inhume, I Shit on Your Face, Ahumado Granujo, Rompeprop and Regurgitate. There were others, I’m sure, but this kind of music never struck a chord with me, so I left it where it truly belongs – in a toilet.

I reached an important milestone in the Fall of 2006 when I discovered D-beat and Crust. There were a ton of bands with horrible production, so it was hard to pick something that I actually liked. The two bands that stood out at the time were 20 Minute de Chaos and Acursed. There were more to come, but this was an OK start.

2007 was probably my most productive year in artist discovery. I continued working through the list of Crust and D-beat bands, and discovered a whole new world of music in genres such as Stoner, Sludge, Doom, Ambient, Post-rock and Dark Hardcore. Some special mentions must go to Bongzilla, Electric Wizard, Explosions in the Sky, Abandon, Fall of Efrafa and of course the brilliant Ekkaia with their Demasiado tarde para pedir perdón. There were many many more, too many actually, since I can’t remember them all. Should’ve made some notes at the time… oh well. Another important discovery was Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger. I have finally found a Darkthrone album that I understood and this provided a reference point for working through the rest of their discography.

In early 2008 I ran into a few mentions of Horrorcore, which was basically horror-inspired Hip Hop. It was a fad at the time and there was a lot of crap floating around. I did like a few records by DJ Bless, Army of the Pharaohs and particularly Post Mortem from Kazakhstan. The genre seemed to fizz out pretty quickly, but the few good records that were put out left a lasting impression. In the Summer of 2008 I decided to get a better taste of the Black Metal scene. I did scratch the surface in the previous few years by listening to Naglfar, early Behemoth and Blackened Crust acts like Iskra and Gallhammer. To my surprise, there was a huge number of horrible bands, in particular when it came to the Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (DSBM). I did discover one band, Angra Mainyu, their 2007 album Versunkenheit is basically a masterpiece. There were a couple of other decent records, but nothing to write home about.

It turned out that Summer of 2008 would be my last chance to find something radically new. Towards the end of 2008 school work took up most of my time and I rarely had time to catch up on the musical forums and blogs where I was getting info. And so between 2009 and 2015, I haven’t discovered any new genres that I liked and have found only a handful of new artists. I’ve been listening to the same old stuff for a few years straight. This helped me refine parts of my playlist as, for example, I realized how inconsistent the song writing on the first few Bleeding Though albums was.

In 2011 I ran across Have Heart with their The Things We Carry album, but that was about it. In 2012 my friend suggested Deafheaven to me. I listened to their stuff for a bit on Bandcamp and it seemed like I’ve finally found something new that I would enjoy for a long time, but that wasn’t the case. I’ve forgotten about them in a matter of a week. There were 3 other bands that quickly became my favourites that Summer. They were French Celeste with their re-issued Pessimiste(s) EP, Russian Sostoyanie Ptits and Italian The Secret. Towards the end of 2012 I also got into Sepultura’s Schizophrenia. I really liked the album and that should’ve been my cue to go and explore their earlier works along with records that came out around the same time, but I was too busy digesting the new album by the The Secret at the time.

In 2013, when working on my Master’s thesis, I got into the neo-classical genre. While the genre in general didn’t seem like anything special, there were a few artists whose work I really enjoyed. They were Worrytrain (Fog Dance, My Moth Kingdom album), Fabrizio Paterlini, Ludovico Einaudi and, most importantly, Dmitry Evgrafov. Later in 2013, when updating my playlist, I re-discovered a few artists that I’ve heard before, but didn’t pay much attention to: August Burns Red, Driller Killer, Wolfbrigade, General Lee, Rosetta and Mihai Edrisch among others. That playlist didn’t change much until later the second half of 2015, but that’s another story!

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