Continuing the KYR series, now we come to one of the more/most important periods of my musical evolution/progress….
I was 14/15 when what I felt what I was hungering and craving for in terms of music finally came into my grasp. I had just discovered and already religiously reading the now defunct wide-spread Metal Maniacs magazine publication. It seemed like it was meant to be considering where I lived in my humble and quiet surroundings of Bartow, Fl. At every Circle K gas station, even the Publix, Winn-Dixie and Food Lion grocery stores, it was there. Outside of my home town, it was harder to find ironically even if I was else be it in the central Florida and southern Louisiana locations. But every month from when I first started reading it, the new issues were there providing me with VIP access to the underground. Articles, album reviews, and names flooded me at a pace where I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep-up but somehow I managed to not only go back and discover classic albums by the likes of Celtic Frost, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Venom and Sodom, but I also found ways of obtaining albums by the likes of Mayhem, Emperor, Darkthrone, Dimmu Borgir, Immortal, Gorgoroth, Satyricon, Mortiis, etc. Mind you this was around 96-97 so I basically jotted down and searched out whatever I could in those truly dark days of the metal underground. And that right there really depends on your perspective if you were around in that particular time period. One of the albums that warped my little developing brain was the classic 1985 album “To Mega Therion” by Celtic Frost. Still to this day nothing compares to it.
Death Metal was dead, or so they said. But when Tampa is literally in your backyard, the party from 1993 was still happening for those of us who were a generation younger. We still sought out the OOP classic albums all while Black Metal was just basically starting to make it’s way over to the States. It took a while for kids like me to pick up on it but when I did, there was truly and absolutely NOTHING like it. Everything that had come before was really a pale-comparison. Reading the interviews and looking at certain album titles already let me know what the fuck was up. And to make matters worse, I was really the only teen in my neck of the woods that was remotely interested in this new found genre of music. And I loved it that way.
It took every taboo. Every bit of shock. Every single ounce of negativity and multiplied it by a thousand. And the ass-kicker was that these Nordic gentleman were doing these actual real-life crimes against everything that went against normal society’s boundaries. They took all the repressed fantasies and comic book imagery and made it real. The fact that they were doing what they were doing and basically putting their words into action caught my attention quickly. And their ultra-serious sense of dedication made it seem more dangerous to even think about simply by the act of knowing about it. And all of this was solidified that I knew I was onto something so extreme just by the way how my classmates listened to metal one year and the next start listening to Master P(I’m really showing my fucking age here). To put it in perspective, 90’s teens were thinking they were satanic for listening to Marilyn Manson by dressing up. Me? I was listening to musicians who actually stabbed their bandmates, committed suicide, burned down churches, stabbed homosexuals, and did other insane acts. So in this crazy immature way, it was a bit like competitive one-uppance. And any time I would try to discuss Black Metal with them, they simply backed off or felt like it was too much. My decision to not only support but immerse myself in this genre of music was made right then and there
I also listened to what was big at the time for metal-obsessed teens such as myself; “The Great Southern Trendkill” by Pantera, “Antichrist Superstar” by Marilyn Manson, “October Rust” by Type O Negative, “Aenima” by Tool, and the post-apocalyptic “Through Silver And Blood” by Neurosis. Next to Celtic Frost, Darkthrone, and Mayhem, Neurosis was another one of those albums that fucking hit me hard. My theory to why it did was because of the physical changes my body was going thru puberty. Combined with the awkwardness of being a teenager, the isolation of where I lived and the troubles at both home and school, for a good 3-4 year period for me it was the first time I ever felt what it was like to experience depression combined with a healthy dosage of teen angst. Not to mention I started to dress more extreme; cut-off baggy camo shorts, wallet-chains, that one year I completely shaved my head and rid myself of the traditional crew cut I was kinda forced to wear by my father, band shirts with satanic symbols, spiked wristbands, etc. Hell there was that one time I even found a mini spiked gauntlet I found at a local flea-market which I wore with pride. I even went as far as carving an inverted cross into my upper bicep(It was the 90’s, we did stupid shit like that as kids Ok?!) I not experienced the darkness, I reached out and WANTED to further explore it. And the music I listened to perfectly reflected that darkness. For me, it was the ultimate form of catharsis I could find at the time. For all the age-old edgy and shocking shit that I did as a kid as far as acting-out, my parents were actually quite fucking liberal and lenient with all of this. I figured if I wasn’t doing drugs or getting into trouble, I could schlock it up as much as I wanted.
About this time, all while the floodgates of the underground opened and the search and hunt for more music, I came across a full-page advertisement for a mail-in catalog called Full Moon Productions. This was in 1997 whenever my parents and I moved to Lakeland, Florida which is really about 20-25 minutes north of Bartow. Lakeland is also the biggest city in Polk County. Upon looking thru the albums they had I found a couple that I had been searching for particulary. One of them was “Crypt Of The Wizard” by Mortiis. The other was “Under The Sign of Hell” by Gorogorth. I also noticed that FMP was literally located about 5-10 minutes away from where I lived at the time on Combee Road and FMP headquarters was located right off Edgewood Road. So I called up the number and asked if I could stop by and pick-up the albums and hand whomever ran the label the cash in hand just because I was one of those hyperactive kids that wasn’t patient enough to put up with the shitty postal system. The day I actually met FMP owner Jon “Thorns” Jamshid was another one of those life-changing moments. At the time I didn’t know how to properly act or anything of the sort but it wasn’t until later on that he told me that he was really impressed just due to my age and he never thought a kid like me would be into the underground extreme music scene. But for the next 10 years the gentleman basically became one of my good and closest friends and a mentor of sorts. He not only went on to let me help him in the FMP office by filling mail orders on certain days after school, but this dude had me at the forefront of the scene from roughly 1998-2006. If it really wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t know about the likes of Sarcofago, Black Witchery, Inquisition, Judas Iscariot, Strid, Ildjarn, Velvet Cacoon, Graveland, Nargaroth, Absu, Krieg, Leviathan, or even the more obscure 80’s stuff that wasn’t particular popular at the time such as Flames Of Hell, Incubus(Fl), Vulcano, Protector(Germany), Poison(Germany), Hobbs Angel of Death, Piledriver or Excorist. The list of bands he turned me onto goes on and on. On top of making weekly trips to FMP and coming out with a stack of like 10 CDs complete with shirts and fanzines, it was a fucking addiction. Not one of the worst addictions, but an addiction none the less. So in reality I am really forever in debt to him. I haven’t talked to him much ever since he moved his label from Lakeland to Colorado in 2007/2008-ish. I still see the occasional Official Facebook FMP page post that pops up every once in a while and comment on that. May be some things from the past are best left in the past to be preserved for what they were.
To be continued in the next installment of the Know Your Roots series. Things are about to get fucking weird(er)…