GSA Writer Contest, Entry #4: Five Albums That Changed Bill Feeley

Guest Column

Here is the fourth entry in the GSA Writing Contest from Bill Feeley; the voting begins next week on Facebook

Let’s get right down to it — ALL metal albums have changed my life. Now that I think about it, there is not one album of any genre that has inspired me like these albums I’m about to describe…with maybe the exception of a couple by Pink Floyd.

Each metal band that I hear leaves its own unique imprint and shapes my taste in music. Through much thought and listening over the past 24 hours, Metazoa by Cormorant, Symptom of an Unwanted Emotion by Dead Blue Sky, Archetype by All Else Failed, The Red Sea by Isis, and Edge of the Earth by Sylosis are the five most definitive albums of my taste in metal.  

The most obscure of these, Dead Blue Sky, really made me appreciate metal as something more than just screaming and energy; to this day, it remains one of the most beautiful albums that I have ever heard. I first heard this band right after they broke up, which sucks, but this album is still around. 

There aren’t many words to describe this album except that when you’re a 19-year-old pothead who up until hearing this album had little exposure to actual metal other than Killswitch’s first album and one Sepultura album, it blows your fucking mind. Really melodic, fuck your ears off metal.

Cormorant’s Metazoa is another one that is sheer beauty through and through, but this album made me appreciate black metal. Before hearing this album, I never really explored black metal or bands that I had heard about that were, but the screaming, the guitars, the grittiness and folkiness all mesh to make something so simple and beautiful yet so diverse and harsh. 

Hopefully more bands will make stuff like this in the future. Another mind blower if you’re sick of every band sounding the same. If that’s your thing, you won’t like this album.

All Else Failed has always been one of my favorite bands, and though not often considered metal, they fit here. This band was my official introduction to heavy music. This band is one of those incredible groups that’s so dark and heavy, listening to any of their albums all the way through will increase adrenaline severely. 

Archetype is the album I had always wanted to hear, one that never gets old, never gets weak or archaic — there are so few albums of this caliber of intensity and emotion that none can compare. Everything about this album is perfect — the lyrics, the creepy, ominous tone, the scream. It’s got this vibe of true horror and eerie acceptance of fate. Just listen to the classic ‘Did You Think of Me?’ if that doesn’t give you energy, you’re probably lame or dead and don’t know it. 

Now, The Red Sea is another good album to roll up a joint, take up your favorite hobby and zone out. I have gotten so much inspiration from simply listening to the title track over the years, it’s almost a fixture on any mix that I make. I like it so much, I’ve convinced my wife that she likes it. Isis was another one of my introductory bands, but I didn’t get to hear much more than this album for a few years. Dark, creepy guitars blend with flowing sludgy grooves to make some epic doom. I’m really looking forward to their upcoming work with Chino Moreno.

I’ve saved Sylosis’ most recent album Edge of the Earth for last because it’s what I hope the future is like. I’m becoming a magnet for criticism by saying that I’m sick of hearing repetitive riffs that Meshuggah wouldn’t have written in the first place all jammed together. I’ll never claim to not listen to that type of music because there are some bands who do it right, I’m just tired of that sound being so dominant. I’ll also try to never use the “D-word.” Sylosis also restored my hope for the future of metal.

I’ve heard it called Thrash, I’ve heard it called Progressive, even Death Metal. Everything about this album is beautiful, it’s like a long story that doesn’t ever sound right broken up. Oftentimes when I listen to this album, it’s strictly in order. Edge of the Earth is an instant classic that is monument to good metal.

Above, I have listed five albums that changed my life, but I didn’t say how they changed my life or why other than simply saying that they shape the music that I like. Simply put, that is why and how, and it’s a big fucking deal to me. It doesn’t affect anyone other than me (unless you’re not into metal and are stuck riding in my car for a long time, I hate the radio) but music has had a huge impact on my life and always will. You can dismiss or disprove it all you want, but it’s true that music is a necessary aspect of life. 

It’s a spiritual emotional, physical, rational, divinatory…the list can go on. There are plenty of people who do without it, but there is a certain magic to music, and an individual’s musical taste says a lot about them that only they or their close friends and family can make sense of, possibly even trained professionals, but it goes deeper than any analysis. Try, with an open mind to look at your own musical taste and find patterns that emerge. 

Metal gets a bad rap because of all the common themes I don’t feel anyone here will be unfamiliar with, and that’s why it’s changed the lives of myself and so many others. It’s something only for those that it speaks to, something dark that allows us to know ourselves, to appreciate the good things in life and understand the darker principles. The best things in life go misunderstood.

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