Jeremy Wagner's Grotesque Blessings
by: Jeremy Wagner
Welcome to my new column for Chronicles of Chaos.

It's not secret I love writing and the guys behind CoC have given me an opportunity to write about whatever I want here, and I appreciate it. Thanks to Jackie Smit and the crew who made the offer and put me here. I hope all of you who read this and who love metal will dig my ramblings!

So... let's talk about metal.

Metal. What can I say? It never fucking went away. I was born to worship metal and to be guitarist in a metal band and write my own original metal riffs. I always felt I wanted to contribute to the metal genre with a band of my own making. I've never been comfy being a bystander. I've never been in a cover band. I always wrote my own original music since I picked up a guitar and made it my main passion in life -- outside of writing all those creepy stories. I love metal so much I wanted to make it with my own hands.

Growing up as a teen in the 1980s -- goddamn, that just dates me now and makes me feel old -- I first got into the staple of MTV hard rock bands like Krokus, Motley Crue, TNT and then graduated into Judas Priest, Armored Saint, Piledriver, and many others. I wanted heavier bands all the time. I didn't know shit about heavy until 1985 rolled around and I spotted a band called Metallica on a quick clip on MTV Headbanger's Ball. That particular HBB episode was covering Day on the Green in Oakland, CA, and there was just little this little clip of Metallica live and then the clip cut to James and Lars introducing themselves.

I was intrigued by Metallica, so I consulted a friend of mine, Marty, who was a punk-rock / skateboarder guy with over 200 metal, punk and hardcore cassette tapes. As a fifteen year old in central Wisconsin in 1985, a guy with over 200 cassette tapes was a fucking god... he must have been rich! Actually, I found out he was damn good at shoplifting (this same dude actually shoplifted four copies of Metallica's _Master of Puppets_ on -vinyl- the day it came out... imagine, stuffing -vinyl- under your shirt and walking out of the store! It's insane. Yeah, I got one of those copies...

Anyway, I'm getting away from the point. Regarding Marty, I asked him if he ever heard of Metallica. He was like, "Uh, yeah, Wagner. I only own their first two albums." I was excited and asked him to hook me up. He ended up blasting the _Ride the Lightning_ album and I was fucking blown away (_Master of Puppets_ wouldn't be out for another four months or so). When I heard the title track and then heard "For Whom the Bell Tolls", I lost it. Never had I heard such music, such riffing, such goddamn heaviness. This moment changed my life. To this day, _Ride the Lightning_ is still one of my favorite albums ever. And it set me on a course to dive head-first into thrash and to also get a guitar and learn how to play.

From there, I dedicated myself to metal... the heavier, the better. In seventh grade speech class, I did an entire rant on the evils of the PMRC and turned all the kids and the teacher onto Slayer, WASP, Twisted Sister, and others. I got an A+ on that, so, "fuck you, Tipper".

Fast-forward to high-school, I still sought the heaviest metal in the world. I went from hard-rock to classic metal to thrash until I found the heaviest music I've ever heard in one genre: death metal. For me, death metal is the heaviest, most brutal, deadly, and diabolic form of music known to man. Again, that's my opinion, and this is the type of statement tends to get people excited, but I stand behind it 100%. I fell in love with my heroes: Terrorizer, Naplam Death, Obituary, Carcass, Death, and too many others.

I started a little death metal band in high-school called Broken Hope. I would sit in study hall, dreaming of one day being in all the metal mags I loved and to be on a record label. I started tape-trading Broken Hope demos, and thanks to people like Ross Dolan of Immolation, Frank Watkins of Obituary, and other underground legends who helped me, I got my band's name and music known worldwide before we ever made an album. Later, we got a deal and were on my favorite label, Metal Blade Records. Also, we appeared in -all- of the magazines I ever loved (RIP, Metal Edge, Metal Maniacs, Guitar World, Hit Parader, etc.), on tour buses, touring the world, and even on fucking MTV. Dreams do come true! Lesson here: don't ever doubt yourself or listen to naysayers' bullshit... believe in yourself. You can do this if you work hard.

Again, I digress. I'm trying to make a point on what you all know, how relevant metal is. I grew up loving metal and being a part of it during a "golden age" in the ‘80s. When the ‘90s rolled around, metal got dismissed as a ‘joke' while grunge and alternative bands became vogue. The press said that grunge killed metal. The funny thing is, metal was never vogue and it -never- went away. Now, here we are in 2009 and people want metal... they love metal... they -need- metal... and metal is everywhere. I write this piece when metal is more popular than ever. This year, Metallica got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Metallica have a best-selling video-game. Slipknot is fucking heavier and more extreme than Metallica and they sell out stadiums! Festivals around the globe are all metal based and draw tens of thousands in every country. Retired legends like Carcass and Obituary have reformed and tour the world with amazing attendance and great fanfare. And don't forget, they made a goddamn movie about Anvil! I saw Anvil in Billboard-fucking-magazine, for Christ's sake! It is surreal...

The moral to this autobiographical metal rant is this:

Metal is eternal.
Music is magic and it changes lives.
Naysayers and critics suck.
Dreams really, really, honestly can come true!

Thanks for reading.

(article submitted 15/7/2009)


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