What Heavy Metal Means To Me


By 'Metal' Dave Wakeham


When I was a kid back in the 1980's I got into Heavy Metal via other more mainstream sources like radio, television, family members, older kids at school playing music on their huge ghetto blasters, etc...

What I was mainly surrounded by was rock like Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Queen and Kiss; those bands were what was mostly being played on TV, radio or at school and this led to me hearing Iron Maiden, WASP, Judas priest and Yngwie Malmsteen. So I was blown away by all of this great and powerful music!

Leading up to the age where I could get a Saturday job, heavy metal turned me from a lazy assed slob on the verge of getting the sack, to a kid asking for more overtime because I need cash to go into town or city centre and buy tons of records, tapes and t-shirts of bands plus my first pair of tight jeans, hi-tops and a studded belt, patches, the whole nine yards ... and keep up with the metal news in magazines like Metal Hammer, Metal Forces, plus MTV's Metal Hammer with the bailey Brothers!!

And never forgetting the Friday Rock Show with DJ Tommy Vance!!! He was the greatest radio DJ that ever lived, alongside John Peel, also another great DJ who passed away about the same time as good ol' Tommy. Without those guys broadcasting for BBC radio, music would be very very boring indeed! I miss those guys to this day and I could honestly shed a tear in total respect!

I felt like I had arrived, it changed my whole life!!!

After that, I heard Anthrax and thought "that was the sound for me". And I thought it was insane how anyone could rip such a heavy sound like that out of a guitar, so I wanted to do exactly that. It wasn't long before I was bitten by the 'thrash' bug! Thrash to me always kind of had a rather 'punk' strain in it with the filthy aggression and shout of intensity. I could relate to it because it was so down to earth with a kind of 'street' level feel and I liked that kind of rawness.

So the list of bands is just endless with Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Megadeth, Kreator, Whiplash, S.O.D., Metallica, Exodus, Onsalught, Destruction, Vio-Lence, Death Angel, Possessed, Celtic Frost, Venom ... like I said, the list of great bands just goes on!

The 1990's came along and death metal with Morbid Angel, Entombed, Deicide, Bolt Thrower, Death, Obituary, Pestilence and Malevolent Creation. Before that I'd had some treatment of total extremity from Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror and Carcass with total grindcore that I'd hear from John peel on Radio 1 on Tuesday nights (Legend! Miss him!).

The 1990's really set in and along came grunge and I didn't mind the likes of Soundgarden and Alice In Chains because to me they sounded like rock but with a bit more rawness than say Bon Jovi, but when it broke into a huge thing, both kids and the rock media were treating it like some fashion statement and declaring heavy metal and hard rock dead, which still disgusts me to this day how they can treat 'rock' like that, because since when has heavy music been about fashion? I always knew it was dead against fashion victim attitudes!

So! The so called media 'experts' claimed metal dead ... but we're continuing in the face of trends, metalheads knew different didn't we, what with Pantera, Machine Head, Sepultura, Fear Factory and carcass leading the relentless guitar 'crunch' Norwegian black metal running amuck everywhere, plus other underground riff driven metal and hardcore bands, all kicking ass, which led to new bands coming out such as Strapping Young Lad, Meshuggah, Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Dark Tranquility, Dimmu Borgir and Nightwish, and I thought "Kerrang magazine, you watch out!".

There was also the likes of Iced Earth in America breaking their asses for heavy metal right in the face of your Limp Bizkit 'wiggas' out there and I thought "good on you also guys" because passion is what this kind of music is all about!

And it's grass roots campaigns like this, where theirs no longer support from the mainstream media or television that really makes it all happen, plus in the last ten years we've had the internet with MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, plus other bands and fans own or company websites all 100% dedicated to the cause of heavy metal, and also individual fans that get heavily involved in the heavy metal underground, also make it all happen!

So personal opinions may vary from different sounds, including mine, but that doesn't matter because people are putting the work in, the hours, the weeks, the months, years and decades into this music and it's making lots of people happy. It's building new fanbases, it continually re-invents itself and keeps metal alive! So, national television and radio, we don't need you because we are still in the ring!