In order to give readers some context for the reviews on this site, I figured it might be helpful to outline my approach to the material I write about. I’ve been sharing my hot takes, opinions and analysis of music from a wide variety of genres since 2000. Aside from the numerous incarnations of this site, I wrote for a litany of long defunct ‘zines from the early 2000s. Since then, I’ve exclusively posted my reviews on various iterations of this site up to the present day.
Saying “I listen to everything” is most often a cringeworthy cliché, but my tastes do tend in that direction. The primary focus of my listening is extreme metal, with pop, rap, electronic, and experimental genres filling out the rest of my slate. I’m willing to listen to almost anything, but I have strongly defined preferences. (You can get a good idea of where my tastes lie from my 2022 Albums of the Year list.)
My musical journey began with Weird Al and a copy of 2 Unlimited‘s self-titled album. I don’t have strong memories of the music my family used to play; I have vague recollections of a California Raisins compilation, Meatloaf‘s Bat Out Of Hell, and some Beatles tapes. I was not much of a music fan in general until I was almost 13 years old. This was 1995-96 and I got into Nirvana, but only after Kurt died — and through a friend’s copy of Live From The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah of all records. Probably not the weirdest origin story, but not a conventional path either.
Another formative experience was my purchase of the soundtrack for Mortal Kombat: The Motion Picture. At the time, I bought the CD based solely off my love of the theme song to the movie — an iconic jam even to this day. The rest of the soundtrack was a baffling array of music from disparate genres, and a glimpse into my future. The mix of house, trance, alt rock, death metal, industrial, goth rock, and electronica was a blend that took me nearly a decade to fully process and appreciate.
I expanded from grunge to Metallica. I wish I was joking when I said that I decided I wanted to listen to ‘metal,’ and thus I should start with a band that had it right there in the name! I knew they were incredibly popular, and I had read that ECW wrestler The Sandman would work insane hardcore matches while his namesake Metallica song played. My mind made up, I went to my nearest HMV and bought the first album of theirs I saw.
Ironically, my metal journey began with the band’s self-titled record — most commonly referred to as “the black album” — which was their most commercially successful and sonically accessible effort at the time. Or, as many metal fans called it at the time: sellout bullshit. Regardless, I enjoyed it and quickly dove into the band’s back catalog.
It didn’t take me long to pursue even heavier music, finding Rob Zombie and then getting swept up in the nu metal boom of the late-90s and early 2000s. I still remember the baited anticipation I felt for the release of Limp Bizkit‘s Significant Other album after being enthralled by the video for “Nookie.” I love big, loud, dumb music; from the meathead stomp of Limp Bizkit, to the angsty laments of Korn and Linkin Park, to the unfettered rage and over-the-top aggression of Slipknot, I was there for it all.
By the early 2000s, my tastes expanded even further — one of the benefits of getting my first real job, and having more money for albums. Through repeated exposure, I was able to work up the nerve to jump into the deep end of the metal pool. My first death metal records were the debut full-length from The Project Hate MCMXCIX and the Breeding Death EP from Bloodbath and I haven’t looked back since.
It has taken over 2 decades for me to appreciate the breadth of the metal genre, and all the variant styles. I vary my listening depending on my mood, and try to appreciate a good song for what it is, regardless of the genre. I don’t listen to much mainstream music; it’s not an music snob thing, I do enjoy a well-crafted banger, there is just so much good stuff out there and I haven’t needed the radio or traditional outlets.
I write about popular music, but my preference is to give exposure to underground artists. I don’t use a numbered rating scale, as I don’t find those overly useful. I also don’t tend to write a lot of negative reviews. I pick all of the material I write about, and don’t receive any promotional material. I’m not above hate-listening to some things, but those are exceptions rather than the norm.
Some of my favourite acts, in no particular order:
- Godspeed You Black Emperor
- VNV Nation
- The Project Hate MCMXCIX
- Sunn O)))
- Denzel Curry
- Run The Jewels
- Queens of the Stone Age