In 1996, I became aware of the music of heavy metal band Metallica by hearing their song “Until It Sleeps” on the radio while visiting Lowell, IN to attend my grandmother’s funeral. It sounded good, and I thought it was a good enough song to warrant further research. I purchased their “Load” album and was enamored of the bluesy lead guitar solos of Kirk Hammett played over the crunching rhythm guitar riffs of James Hetfield on songs like “Bleeding Me” and “The Outlaw Torn,” both introspective masterpieces lasting over eight minutes. By the time my family was preparing to move to Illinois from Fall Branch, TN the following summer, I was letting out my frustrations with the heavy metal classics “Sad But True,” and “Harvester of Sorrow,” and playing extended air guitar renditions of the amazing, haunting instrumental “Call of Ktulu.” When we finally moved to Illinois, I got pumped for football games by absorbing the powerful parent-hatred of “Dyers Eve” in my veins. In addition to moving away from my parents emotionally, I had moved away musically; I could no longer stand the adult contemporary garbage that should not be, on which I had been raised.
Ever since finding Metallica, and being mesmerized by the complex and breathtakingly fast guitar play of Hetfield and Hammett, I have been in a bit of a musical rut. No other artist in any genre has been able to speak to me the way that Metallica does. A few songs here and there have lit up my appreciation in a variety of ways, but I have never been able to say that an entire band has risen to the status of second-best; a few bands, like the Foo Fighters, System of a Down, and Shinedown are very good and helped keep some diversity in my musical palate, but none even came close to rivaling the extent to which Metallica just spoke to me.
Along came Avenged Sevenfold. I learned of the quality of their music, interestingly enough, from Guitar Hero II, in which “Beast and the Harlot” was one of the clearly superior contemporary tunes. Obsessed ever since, I have bought each of their four albums in the five months since I first heard “Beast and the Harlot.” But can Avenged Sevenfold overcome the weaknesses of so many other bands and find a place next to Metallica in my heart? In their most recent eponymous album, and in their concert last night at The Pageant in St. Louis, I have found my answer.
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