Feed on

This was the incredulous question posed to me by one of my highschool classmates who eventually became one of my buddies, early on in our schooldays together.

He had looked over my shoulder to see that I’d been idly pencilling the iconic “fishhook” M on a page in my notebook during a dull lecture in one of our daily dull classes.

Me in '93...not old enough to vote, but I still had my opinions!
Then again, this girl doesn’t really look like a typical Metalhead, does she?

Anyway, we bonded over our shared love of loud heavy-metal music. Listening to Iron Maiden made me feel smart in English and History classes, since so many of their songs were riffs on canon literature or historical events. Black Sabbath made me feel like an ass-kicking android from outer space. Pantera was a great substitute for breakin’ shit when you felt really aggressive.

Metallica, though, Metallica was my wallowing music.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret (secret, that is, if you did your wallowing to say, The Smiths). Metallica pretty much wrote the soundtrack to depression.


I adapted to adolescence with even less grace than is typical, and by my mid-teens, I really was one heavily bummed out kid. Things were going pretty badly for me at school and I wasn’t really making things any better. I pulled a lot of antics…dumb pranks, smarting off in class, and alternating between acting clownishly whacky and really aggressive and stroppy. I took a lot of petty stuff personally and let some really big stuff slide until it turned into a shit avalanche. So I spent a lot of time feeling angry, frustrated, sad, and out-of-step with the world. Metallica’s melodramatic angsty lyrics and big, loud sound fit the way I felt. It was music you could scream to, you could cry to it, but still look and sound like you could and would kick somebody’s ass. You could admit your vulnerability while still hiding it. Metallica was a big damn deal to me from 1991 through 1995.

Fade To Black the song linked in You Tube up above, was one of those songs that really “spoke” to me back in those dark days of highschool. Lars Ulrich & James Hetfield may have just been fucking around with their “obsession with death” and thinking that writing a song about being suicidal was a cool idea. Be that as it may, this song, as well as Eye of the Beholder off the “And Justice For All album, Frayed Ends of Sanity from the same album, and Holier Than Thou off the “black” album were all seriously cathartic songs for me at that point in my life. I got this sense of validation that other people felt out-of-step and dismayed by the ways we metaphorically shiv one another on a daily basis.

“Fade To Black” really resonated with me at the time, because I was pretty much as low as I’d ever been at around age 16, just after the end of my Junior year. This guy (with whom I was obviously never going to get anywhere, but I was really hung up on him because he was like the only guy who’d ever been nice to me at that point) was moving away to go to college, I was an outcast at school, I was looking at a long, boring, largely lonesome summer, and sometimes I think the only thing that kept me from jogging up the road and flinging myself off the bridge was the idea in the back of my mind that the fall wasn’t probably great enough to actually kill me. I guess listening to a song written about somebody in that state of mind was kind of a relief…like I realized that you can and do live through all of the bad shit…somebody had to have done so to have the insight to write a song like that. It’s like that aphorism that when you’re so far down, the only place you can go is up.

I haven’t really listened to Metallica on a regular or intentional basis since 1995. There was a pretty long gap between the “black” album and Load, and like a lot of older Metallica fans, I wondered if their label had banned them from completing the album name with the words “of crap.” I’m still unsure if Metallica jumped the shark after the black album, or if I just had outgrown them by the time they released Load. My musical tastes were changing, and while I still liked some heavier stuff I was also no longer ashamed of straight up liking the bubbliest of bubblegum pop. I think Metallica kind of fossilized themselves and began a slow slide into irrelevance. I’m not sure who their core audience is anymore, but I know I’m not really among them these days.

But back in say 1993, I’d never have believed that Metallica would be anything other than my favorite band for the rest of my natural life.

One Response to “"YOU listen to METALLICA?"”

  1. Shannon says:

    Personally, I think they jumped the shark. Fade to Black has a special place in my heart too. And you posted about Cream early-they’re one of my all-time favorite bands, regardless of what type of music phase I’m in.

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