- Bill Nihill: Co-Creator/Editor-In-Chief/Website Administrator
- Mike Lawrence: C0-Creator/Associate Editor/Senior Social Media Manager
- I.O. Kirkwood: Senior Live Music Editor
We are Metal Descent! We’re two guys from Massachusetts that are really into heavy metal. We started this website for a few reasons with the biggest reason being the education of both metal and non metal fans on the vast categories and sounds of heavy metal. For a long time, we have talked to each other about being disenfranchised with non metal fans. Their comment is always, why do you guys listen to that? It’s just noise and screaming. Non metal fans are always quick to lump all heavy metal into the category of loud and yelling. That’s because they never take the time to realize that there are dozens and dozens of subgenres of heavy metal, many of which can be melodic and symphonic. They also fail to look past the screaming and just listen to the music. If they did, they would realize that the heavy metal world is full of some of the most talented musicians in the entire music industry. Therefore, as part of this website we will give tons of information on all the categories of heavy metal and give detailed examples of what each one sounds like. We will also take things one step further by giving definitions of metal terminology to better help both the non metal and metal fan understand what everything means (e.g. many categories of extreme metal use blast beats, but not everyone will know what that means).
We are lovers of many if not all categories of heavy metal. This brings us to our next reason for opening the site, the pigeon holed metal fan. Because of our love for metal, we have joined various metal chat rooms to discuss different topics. We have come to find that many of these chat rooms exclude and berate people who listen to many different categories of metal. They tend to relegate themselves to one or two subgenres and refuse to listen to or give respect to other categories or to those that influenced the bands that they like. We’ll give an example. On one of the chat rooms, we were discussing the albums that we feel are essential to the collection of a metal fan. We did not realize that the website had mostly a black metal and grindcore following. We have nothing against either of these categories. Black metal is one of our favorites. People began berating us left and right saying that many of the albums were not metal. One girl in particular was a big reason for us starting this site. She said that she loved black metal and these albums were not metal. I pointed her to Venom who was on our list. She said I know of them. I’ve never actually heard them, but I know they suck. This girl hadn’t the faintest idea that Venom is the whole reason that black metal was created in the first place. Sure they were a thrash band, but a very heavy one at that and most black metal artists cite them as the main influence in the creation of black metal. It just surprised us so much that some people are so set in their ways and blinded that they are not even willing to give respect to bands that influenced the stuff they listen to. So, our next goal is to show the influences that one category or band had on another . Hopefully this will help to expand horizons and show that there is tons of great metal music worthy of respect.
Lastly, we would like to broaden the scope of the casual metal fan. These are the fans that say they love metal, but can’t name any bands beyond Metallica, Korn, and Pantera. So, we would like to help by making it easy to explore all of the sounds that metal has to offer by reading all the category descriptions and seeing what sounds each reader might best identify with. Then if a person likes Metallica or the description that they just read about thrash, they can go see a list of other thrash metal artists that they might enjoy helping everyone to expand on their love of metal.
Obviously on top of all of this metal education and exploration, we will provide you with the latest news, band biographies, ticket information, album reviews, and a section dedicated to up and coming metal artists. Together this will help to give you a full heavy metal experience that you will not get on any other website.
We would like this to be a respectful website, where rabid fans of certain categories help to educate other metal and non metal fans rather than berate them for liking a certain band. If you like death metal and a Metallica fan doesn’t know much about it, help to educate them, you might help your music gain a new fan. Also, please keep an open mind and try different kinds of metal, you might be pleasantly surprised by bands and sounds that you weren’t even aware of that influenced the bands you are crazy about. Finally, to all the non metal fans, give the site a shot. Read the category descriptions and listen to what you think of as noise without preconceived notions. Dig deep into the songs and don’t just listen to the surface vocals, you may find a sound that you really like and respect. We wouldn’t doubt it
My love for heavy metal started in my teens, with a healthy dose of early exposure in the 80’s to Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith blaring on my sister’s radio while I was in elementary school (way back when the pop/top 40 stations used to play metal/glam metal — remember that?), along with some early MTV. The first song I can remember having an obsession with was “You Could Be Mine,” which I just called “that Terminator song” back in 1991 (see the video here to see why).
The first two cassettes — yes, cassette tapes — that I received as gifts were Pearl Jam’s sophomore album VS and Aerosmith’s Get a Grip. I wasn’t so much hooked on the Pearl Jam album, but I fell in love with the Aerosmith album at the age of 13 and worn that tape out, memorizing every minute detail of Joe Perry’s guitar parts. I played “Eat the Rich” over and over, which was one of the heavier songs from the album. Immediately, I took a liking to the heavier tracks and sought out more.
To learn more about my favorite bands, I bought a copy of Rolling Stone from Strawberries, a defunct record store in the New England area. There was an annoying insert in the middle of the magazine from long gone BMG Music Club to get 12 CD’s for the price of 1, and I took the bait. I ordered 12 albums, which included Nirvana’s Nevermind, Stone Temple Pilots Core, and for some odd reason, Collective Soul’s second self-titled album. You couldn’t get just any CD with BMG, you had to get the ones that were available in the magazine insert. Then came the rip-off part of BMG. They’d send an album every month, unless you said “no thanks” prior to receiving that album by sending something back in the mail to them. If you didn’t, you were stuck with the crappy Seal album. Once, I got stuck with one of those terrible “CDs of the month,” and decided to wage war back on BMG. I started new accounts for my mother, father, two cats, and different variations of my first name in order to get the 12 cheap CD’s. It worked! In the process, I had a lot of terrible CDs shipped to me, but I did manage to receive Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction. Then, my mother saw the bill for the subsequent CDs of the month to which I never replied to, got pissed off, and called to claim the accounts were delinquent fakes. But, I got my CDs. After that, it was off to start the process all over again with Columbia Music House to further expand my music collection.
Out of that batch of nearly 100 CDs, there were punk, alternative, grunge, classic heavy metal, thrash, hard rock, rap, and classic rock staples mixed in, like the Ramones, Black Sabbath, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Misfits, Metallica, Run DMC, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, AC/DC, I even remember getting Blondie’s “The Best of Blondie.” These were the days that you actually sat down, listened to an album, scrutinized the liner notes, marveled at the artwork, and enjoyed the experience, track by track. This music really helped me to make it through a miserable high school experience.
After high school, nu metal was in full swing, and I felt liberated after not having to deal with the same school system any longer. I completely bought into the nu metal culture between 1998-2000, died blonde hair, waxy spikes, Puma tees and all. Say what you will about nu metal, but it felt right at the time, and it was a real heavy metal movement (the last one to really grab the attention of youth). In the process, I listened to a lot of Korn, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, and gangsta rap; all of the stereotypical nu metal bands and influencers. It wasn’t the best music, but it was a good time.
I distinctly remember a defining moment during that time which changed my musical taste for the better. Ozzfest, which was a regularly touring heavy metal festival during the late 90’s into the 2000’s, had a lineup in 1998 which featured many nu metal bands, but also Megadeth, touring behind Cryptic Writings. I didn’t want to admit it at the time, but I was blown away by Megadeth’s set, which included some tracks from Peace Sells, Countdown to Extinction, and Cryptic Writings. To this day, they left their mark, and Megadeth is my favorite band.
As nu metal died out, I explored other areas of metal, and continue to with the creation of Metal Descent. It’s been a learning experience, and I hope all of you can enjoy what metal has to offer. It’s more than just one single genre and it’s beyond all of those stereotypes you see on TV or read about, and that’s what we’re trying to share on Metal Descent.
I have been a fan of heavy metal since the early 1990’s. Like many people, I started off with the usual bands like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Pantera, and Soundgarden. Around about 1994, I began an ill advised obsession with ska music. Boy I wish I could go back and punch myself in the face. One good thing did come out of it though. It helped to introduce me to hardcore and expanded my library of heavy music. I began listening to bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, and Downset.
Of course shortly after this like many, I got caught up in the nu metal movement. For a while it was revolutionary, but after a couple of years bands all started following the same formula and everything became very watered down.
Thankfully around this time I would meet two people during my Sophomore year in college that would help to really birth my love of everything metal. The first was my roommate. He was a big hardcore fan and began to introduce me to the new school of hardcore and metalcore. From there he expanded on my education and had me listening to and loving death metal, melodic death metal, and the classic thrash albums of Slayer and Sepultura. From that point on, Slayer has easily become my favorite band. The second was the brother of my other roommate and best college friend. He showed me the musical talent and intricacies of black metal, which would eventually become one of my favorite categories of metal. He also introduced me to the crazy and noisy sounds of grindcore.
For a few years I would remain relegated to metalcore, death metal, and thrash. After having run through hundreds of albums in these categories, I began to research metal more on my own. I went back and listened to the pioneers like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest. I found other genres of metal that I had never heard of or never thought I would like, such as female fronted metal, Gothic metal, doom metal, and progressive metal. Progressive metal has recently become one of my favorites and the more I delve into it, the more I am impressed.
Since my big metal awakening in the early 2000’s, I have studied all forms of heavy metal extensively and have written numerous articles on many different aspects of metal. I know many won’t believe this or don’t understand it, but I have gained a liking and appreciation for almost all categories of heavy metal. That is part of the reason that I wanted to start this site with Bill. I wanted to educate metal and non metal fans alike on all the great things each subgenre has to offer. The other reason is because of some girl who yelled at me on a forum for liking a wide range of metal and not limiting myself to extreme metal. To her I would like to say, thank you for the inspiration! The site is still a work in progress, but I know you will all enjoy it when we finally get the important pieces completed. Stay tuned for updates and hopefully you will learn something you didn’t know. I know I have.
I come from a musical family, and though Irish folk music was the vinyl product that came out of my Uncle Pat’s label, The Bounty, my five uncles and my mother love heavy metal music. I was nursed on the teats of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Judas Priest and I wasn’t aware of this heritage until much later.
My first awakening to heavy metal came in 1983 when Motley Crüe released Shout at the Devil and Def Leppard released Pyromania. Even then, I liked my music heavy and tortured. I’d just discovered my rage and Crüe’s cover of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” lit a fire in me.
As I entered my twenties, I enjoyed bands such as Sisters of Mercy, Danzig, Nirvana, Sound Garden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam. I introduced my son, Cory, to many of these bands when he was three years old. We added Tool, Godsmack, Korn, Chevelle, Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age, and Deftones to our collection as he grew up. We also explored different genres with my love of root metal and his love of death metal.
Cory tried several times to get me to listen to extreme metal bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Tesseract, Children of Boom, and Meshuggah. I’m a clean vocalist who has been compared favorably to Amy Lee of Evanescence and I was always put off by the screaming vocals. I told Cory it wasn’t my thing because the screaming, the rage implied, made me very uncomfortable. I also love lyrics. I know words to hundreds of songs. Metal forces me to lip-sync metal songs and that irks the crap out of me.
Then Cory joined a thrash metal band called Xstrophy in 2012. I enjoyed his new band’s music, heavy on the thrash with a dash of root metal, and started going to the shows. Nothing—and I mean NOTHING—compares to a live metal show. I enjoyed the amazing energy and the screaming vocals were becoming a requirement.
Some people say it was Metallica or Slayer or Pantera that totally converted them to metal. All those bands are great, but the band that blew me right out of my Chucks was BATTLECROSS. Since I saw them in October of 2013, I can’t get enough of metal. I started writing about metal on my blog at iokirkwood.com. I’ve gone to more shows in a six month period than I have attended my entire life. I’ve seen acts from Nile to Animals as Leaders to Dillinger Escape Plan to Corrosion of Conformity. I make an effort to attend local shows and I support the metal scene in my city.
I enjoy all the metal subgenres even if I don’t find an individual band quite my cup of tea. I claim that black metal is my “least favorite” genre because I respect that there are people out there who absolutely love Behemoth and Cradle of Filth even if I don’t. I also respect the talent it takes to produce a technically brilliant work such as The Satanist.
Metal for me is like death by chocolate cake for a kid with a sweet tooth. My favorite genres are Thrash and Melodic Death but I also have a sweet spot for Djent and Metalcore. I’ll listen to any metal album once and I’ll go to a live show in any metal genre. I find it difficult to understand people who limit their exposure to only a couple of genres because metal has such a wide range of expression and is capable of mutations so crazy I can’t imagine being musically monogamous. I have never been this passionate about any genre of music before and I want to thank Bill and Mike for giving me this opportunity to write for Metal Descent.