I’m no Odysseus. Although I’m on a figurative journey, discovering the heavier side of music. The show I host, Metal Odyssey, is an outgrowth of a musical assignment of sorts. In the year 2018 I embarked on a Metal Odyssey – to go explore the world of heavy metal. Perilous and aggressive the voyage would be. While Robert Plant and Co. were heading for the Western Shore, I was on my way to the land of ice and snow; to be honest, I didn’t discover that much Black Metal. However, I did wash up on some strange shores, some surprisingly inviting and others simply uninviting. It’s been almost 6 years since I departed in search of music of the metal variety and the search continues each week on Metal Odyssey.
Like the Odyssey, my interest in metal is a non-linear story. My most favorite band is the aforementioned Led Zeppelin. Not a metal band per se, Zeppelin have had substantial influence on the formation of heavy metal. The Mighty Zep certainly could go heavy. Everyone will immediately point to Bonzo and Page providing the heavier elements of the band’s sound, but John Paul Jones is doing work on the bass. And Plant’s vocal quality and range would not be out of place in many a metal sub-genre.
I had been exposed to metal at various times. Whether you count AC/DC as metal or not, Razor’s Edge was the 2nd album I ever purchased. (Don’t ask about the first.) We can argue where to slot Guns n’ Roses. The Black Album was omnipresent and polemical in the 90s. While its mainstream acceptance left Metallica fans irately pining for the previously ‘good’ Metallica, that album was my gateway to discovering their previous offerings. (Best Metallica album, who you got- Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets?) I had phases discovering Sabbath in the early 2000s; exploring Maiden and Dream Theater discographies in the mid 2000’s; and Tool, Judas Priest, and Pantera in the 2010’s. It’s not that I was unaware of these bands and their radio hits (Dream Theater didn’t have radio hits), but that was the extent of my knowledge. So, when I say I had phases of musical discovery, they were always acontemporaneous (that IS precisely the word I want to use here) to the height of those bands’ success. It became a joyous task, a deliberate discovery- to muck around in an artist’s discography. Now that I’m describing this approach, the whole Metal Odyssey project I started in 2018 is just another instantiation of my musical modus operandi.
And this approach has some downside. Yeah, I feel sheepish confessing that I missed
many most of these ‘heavy’weights at their peak creative output, redefining the extremity of music. I’ve been the newcomer to an old scene over and over again. However, there is a place for discovering music on one’s own terms, to seek out the music and find the merit (or lack thereof) of an artist, free from the chronological confines of their musical and creative development (or lack thereof). Music is paradoxical in this respect; it is always of its time, and yet it can be timeless. So that is what the Metal Odyssey show has become, a structure and process for me to continue to discover the depths, shores, reefs, lagoons, and garbage patches of heavy music, old and new. And I get to beleaguer my listeners with what I find.
*Yes, that was a Spaceballs reference.