There is a defining moment in every metal head’s life. Sure, lots of us were already fans, then, “it” hits us. Something so raw, so aggressive, something that we’ve never heard before. That sound comes in many forms to many people, but for me, it was July 15th, 1986. Barely seventeen years old, and jacked up on Vicodin since I’d had my wisdom teeth cut out the day before, I set out with my friend, Jimi, and his way too cool of a mother, to see Ozzy on The Ultimate Sin Tour. Metallica opened the show, and while I was a casual fan, I surely wasn’t expecting the 45 minute set that influenced me in ways I’m still discovering. I’d been to the Peoria Civic Center before. My Southern Baptist Dad, Deacon, and part-time pastor, took me and a carload of friends there to see Accept and Iron Maiden. What a Dad, right? I saw Motley Crue at the same venue, I was hardly a concert noob, but the scene was still shining and fresh to me.
The house lights went down to a din of cheers. Mullets illuminated with flickering lighters stretched from the front row to the top of the upper arena. It was electric. The pre-recorded opening notes of Damage, Inc, poured from the pa system. The piped-in guitar faded with an echo, then Metallica started their set.
Blood will follow blood
Dying time is here
My jaw dropped. Suddenly, the only thing in the world that mattered was this band, this unbelievably bad ass thrash metal band. Palm muted triplets, chugging bass lines, blistering guitar solos, crushing drums featuring prominent amounts of double bass was my new raison d’etre. Now, twenty-seven years later, I’ve obsessed and sought after this music non-stop. Within a month of seeing Metallica live, I had a new, purple Kramer and a little Ampeg combo amp. Through the years, I was in a few metal bands, one in particular that enjoyed a lot of local attention, leaving us with opportunities to perform around the state. I’ve attended (and still do) countless concerts, constantly seek new music, learned to appreciate much about playing guitar, and music as a whole all because of that humid, drug addled night in 1986. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of my heroes, like Type O Negative, Pantera, Kirk Hammett, Clutch, Opeth, Monster Magnet, Deftones, Cannibal Corpse, and so on. While I love A LOT of newer metal, the prolific 80’s era of thrash is a magical, golden thing where the heaviest shit in the world was still played in standard tuning. It doesn’t get much heavier than that. Everyone has a story. Feel free to get excited and share yours. \m/ Stay metal, kids.