Allow me to set the scene:
17 year old long-haired Black Sabbath enthusiast (the latter is even more true today.)
In 5th year in an all-boy/all-jock rugby school in Dublin (no one reading this from outside Ireland will know the term “D4”, but to those Irish readers I need say no more...)
Still an expert in all things Metallica, but at this stage my interest was waning.
Similarly I had decided that Motorhead held little appeal for me despite all the opportunities I gave them.
A recently split band and the toughest school year still looming on the horizon the following year.
All in all, while I won't be so spoiled as to say a terrible situation, I can safely say, a boring one! Yet thinking back to that time I am always faced with an almost nostalgic feeling, a voice saying contentedly; “ya know, that was a fuckin' good year.” Yet you have already read the setting-the-scene portion of the article, so where is the joy?
The fact is that I can only pin down one thing as a suspect to account for the fond memories of that year; that is discovering that most colourful spectrum of music between Rock and Metal (two ancient terms that seem to become less meaningful everyday), the part of the spectrum that I like to refer to simply as 'Heavy'. The stonery, the psychedelic, the groovy, the droney, the sludgy, the weighty, the fuzzy, the terms go on and on precisely because the music does likewise!
I believe it began with Dave Grohl's under the radar 'Probot' project. On that record I came across names I had never heard of. There were the isolated few including Sepultura's Max Cavalera and Motorhead's Lemmy, but who the hell were The Obsessed, Cathedral, Trouble, DRI, Corrosion of Conformity???
A track called 'The Emerald Law' demonstrated an approach to riffing and soloing that were alien to me at the time. I was still convinced at that age that Kirk Hammet had a decent vibrato technique! I resolved to investigate.
My YouTube based inquiry yielded a few live videos all featuring this large shouldered man with hair down to his arse, tattoos down to his hands, (before Suicide Silence and Bring Me The Horizon made it 'in vogue'!) and armed with a black Les Paul. This is of course, you guessed it, Wino.
Saint Vitus videos linked me to Spirit Caravan, Caravan to The Obsessed, Obsessed to The Hidden Hand, then it grew wider; The Hidden Hand to The Sword, The Sword to High On Fire, High On Fire to Sleep, Sleep to OM, OM to Neurosis, on and on and on..... One of the videos that stick in my memory best have to be a fan-made video for The Hidden Hand's 'The Last Tree' made up of live footage from the late 'Emissions from the Monolith' festival and stock footage of hardy men cutting down Giant Redwood trees by hand. Another would have to be a the music video for Sleep's 'Dragonaut', a strangely edited black and white affair featuring a young Matt Pike with blonde dreadlocks.
I could continue on with videos, discoveries on Myspace, etc. etc. but it I think the point has been made that the ball had begun to roll. From here the bands came into my scope one by one like and endless parade of pure quality with no end in sight. Today my personal favourites are still as strong as they ever were, Mastodon, The Hidden Hand, Baroness, Melvins, The Obsessed, High on Fire and of course Black Sabbath, all occupying the ruling tier in my subjective hierarchy.
This was my 2007. What better way to begin maturity of taste? Turning on, tuning in and dropping out just in time to catch The Hidden Hand's last release 'The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote', Baroness' 'Red Album', and not forgetting the slick monster 'Death is This Communion' from High on Fire.
Freeing themselves from the limitations imposed by the Rock or Metal categories, the musicians are free to explore whatever they fuckin' want, (an attitude much advocated but rarely practised!) therein lies the beauty of this music that in an ideal world would be true of all music. Until that ideal is realised let us privileged few sit back, stick on the Sabbath LP, engage our inner Taoist and lose ourselves in Absorption................................
For Bornagainnihilist 2011
Edward Gerard Brophy