Iron Maiden on stage
Metal,  Music

How I discovered metal music

this is the first article in a series about my music discoveries

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I was still a kid, like 16-17 years old, used to radio pop, dance and occasionally some rock (mostly the bad quality we make in Italy). I didn’t consider myself a music fan back then, I lazily listened to what the radio offered me and thought that beside more haughty genres like jazz and classical, it was all there was to listen to. I liked some mainstream, for the time, rock songs like Guns’n’Roses’, Beatles’, the Another Brick In The Wall remix (oh dear…) and of course the italian “rockers” (Vasco Rossi, Ligabue and mediocre singers like them) but I had never thought of delving into music more. Nor that there was much more “rock” than what I had been listening for all my childhood years.

This up until the Napster times and the availability of all world’s music with a couple of mouse’s clicks. Those were the times. I don’t know how many of you nowadays remember tools like Audiogalaxy, EMule and similar p2p software of the late 90s. Maybe not many. It was incredible how much stuff you could download back then.

Anyway. I knew there was harder stuff than Guns’n’Roses. I was aware of the existence of bands like Ac/Dc, Metallica, Iron Maiden, but the radio never played any of their songs and I was taught they were very heavy, probably too much for a sane person, only weirdo listened to that kind of music. Or so I had been told. I wasn’t looking up to be a weirdo so I didn’t care to listen to that kind of harder music.

As you can imagine now, I was very, very wrong.

Therefore, Napster. I googled (or more probably, “yahooed”, we are speaking of 20 years ago at least) “Iron Maiden songs” and downloaded a few; namely, Hallowed Be Thy Name from the album The Number of the Beast. It was such a huge blow to my little music world! I instantly understood that there were bands that didn’t abide to the 3 golden rules I’ve been reared with:

  1. The singer must have a melodic, beautiful voice and use it in ways to impress and generate positive feelings in the listener
  2. Any song should follow the basic structure: verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-final chorus.
  3. Long instrumental parts in a song don’t exist outside of electronic, jazz and classical music.
Iron Maiden performing on stage

Iron Maiden ignored all 3 rules in that song and single-handedly shattered my limited view of music. I loved them instantly (I still do, just I matured and plenty of other bands entered my world). I fell in love with the whole heavy metal genre, expressing it by downloading huge amounts of metal music, of different subgenres, developing a genuine passion for discovering new music in general (but at the time it was limited to metal). It was a short step discovering that Iron Maiden weren’t that “heavy”, nor the heaviest band, and to move from them to Metallica, Ac/Dc, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, power metal, Dream Theather, Slayer.

I didn’t dare to listen to the most extreme subgenres of metal music yet, black and death: part of me was still afraid of trying to listen to such “evil” music and another part was simply too busy listening to more relatively mainstream subgenres as thrash, power and classic metal. The time for more extreme genres would come, I told myself. For now I was content with the newly discovered bands. After Iron Maiden many more came and many I repute(d) better than Steve&co. but I owe to them and The Number Of The Beast album in particular to have opened my eyes (or more correctly ears) and introduced me to a genre that I’ve been loving since then.

Musically speaking, everything changed in me after meeting Iron Maiden. And, admittedly, it had also an important influence in how I saw the artistic world in general. I didn’t look at works of art only with a classical eye (or ear); what was art to me wasn’t limited anymore to what amounted to the highest levels of beauty. The message underneath it and how it was conveyed became much more important. The canonical rules of what was to considered “beautiful” changed in a very short span of time thanks to my newly found love for Iron Maiden. Metal music was opened to me, and it won’t arguably close till I die.

Thanks Bruce, Steve, Adrian, Blaze, Clive, David, Janick, Nicko, Paul and the few others I’m surely forgetting. I owe you all (more than) a beer!

Photo courtesy of Thibault Trillet and Wikimedia

Neapolitan programmer, traveller and metalhead, co-author of PaperSounds blog.

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