Stepping Stone: Wintersun’s Wintersun

Wintersun’s eponymous debut was a watershed album for me. Before Wintersun, I listened exclusively to power metal. If I found the courage to tell someone I liked metal, I assured them I didn’t listen to “the heavy stuff with the screaming”. But the basis of my hasty qualifications began to crumble away as I became bored by the pomp and feather-light punch of supposed “power” metal, and I found myself enjoying the odd song with harsh vocals. Wintersun was the album where extreme metal finally began to “click”, and struck through the stubborn levee that I’d built. As such, it was the bridge for the heavier parts of the metal, an album which made me more confident in listening to the music I liked rather than the music I already knew. That is the very essence of a “stepping stone”, opening up a whole new field of music for us if not whole new methods of listening.

Stepping Stone: Seether // Disclaimer II

I’ve talked before about some of the music that got me where I am today, with the likes of Linkin Park and Ministry. At an earlier time than my forays into Ministry and industrial music, however, there were a certain key groups that I immediately latched onto, mostly because my friend let me rip his CDs onto my crappy little Sandisk MP3 player. I’m talking bands like Linkin Park, but, also, a not-so little group from South Africa called Seether and their sophomore album Disclaimer II.

Stepping Stone: Nightwish’s Oceanborn

I did not listen to music as a child. Before I turned thirteen, I had enjoyed perhaps thirty individual songs in my lifetime. I had never had a favorite band or album. When asked what my favorite genre of music was, I would reply “Rock and roll!” with fake enthusiasm because that was the music boys liked. But this musical apathy diametrically changed with my sudden and unexpected discovery of Nightwish. Unlike most metal fanatics, I have the special luxury of knowing exactly when my metal journey started. ‘Twas a dark and stormy night on August 26th, 2009, and thirteen year old Andrew was trawling YouTube for funny videos in a dark basement because I’ve always been pretty cool. I came across a “misheard lyrics” video of Nightwish’s song “Wishmaster”, and I exalted in joy because I had finally found the funniest video on YouTube.

I shared the video with my equally cool and hip friends, and we all made fun of the strange sounding soprano vocals and the dramatic keyboard. But as I returned to the video countless times over a couple of weeks, I realized that I had begun to watch the video in order to listen to the music instead of laugh at the misheard lyrics. I was forced to admit to myself that the same vocals and keyboards I had derided actually sounded pretty cool. And thus began my journey.

Stepping Stone: Ministry – Psalm 69

Today, I’m going to explore an album that was a huge influence on me in high school that I haven’t listened to in some time: Ministry’s Psalm 69, released in 1992 on the Sire/Warner Bros label, and considered not only one of the best Ministry albums, but also one of the most essential industrial metal albums ever.

Stepping Stone: Killswitch Engage’s Alive Or Just Breathing

Jimmy Two’s first edition of this column was great and had me harking back to the glory days of browsing CD’s for hours and stressing because I only ever had enough money for one. One album kept coming to mind when I was considering what to pick for this feature. The album in question is the often heralded Alive Or Just Breathing by Killswitch Engage.