Rock Identity

For practically all my life I have been a fan of heavy metal. See this communication about my descent into metal.

For me the 80s were filled with early flirtations with pop, from Madonna to Frankie Goes To Hollywood and then into Heavy Metal and Rock. I love Iron Maiden and AD/DC following on from Bon Jovi and Def Leppard in 1987. Come the very late 80s and early 90s I descend into thrash with Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. I see these bands regularly along with new British metal bands such as Wolfsbane and The Almighty.

During university I don’t really expand my musical tastes a great deal. My major discovery (via Smith) is Senser and their cross-over political rock and rap. This sustains me for a few more years along with Alice In Chains.

My music buying diminishes as I start my career and I don’t really get into new bands for a few years. I don’t have a network of friends who can inform me of new things and I don’t live in London. I spend a number of years sustaining myself on the stuff I already own. I still see bands like Iron Maiden and Slayer when they come along, but nothing small or new.

In the early 2000s someone gives me her Rammstein CDs (Sara T) and I find the sound fascinating and new. It’s exciting. Along with seeing Slipknot perform on the TFI Friday television programme I have found something new. Something a little scary and something that seems dangerous. All the music I have grown up with seems rather tame in comparison to these new sounds. I played them over and over. Until around 2009 not much happened until Smith returned from abroad and he and I started attending gigs and concerts together again.

In 2009 I saw two bands. AC/DC at Wembley Stadium and I loved it. They were brilliant and I their music has brought me so much pleasure over the years [so much so that I wore out my musical cassette version of “If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It”]. The other band I saw that year was Rammstein. Their stage show is just absolutely brilliant. If you don’t believe me then just search YouTube for “Buch Dich”, it is quite brilliant, a little bit dangerous and something to cause moral outrage amongst the leading classes. The support band for Rammstein was Combichrist and that is when the trouble started.

After hearing Combichrist and being impressed with their sound I ordered a CD.

Today We Are All Demons

This music was exciting, different, morally dubious, scary and just damn brilliant. It made me want to dance (something I just don’t do). The big problem was that there were NO GUITARS and it was all SAMPLES and DRUM MACHINES. For someone who likes his music live and reproducible without machines this caused major issues. Why did I like this? Was I going insane? How can I like music with a complete lack of heavy guitars and bursting riffs? I was at the tip of the mountain staring down a great big slippery slope to the valley of “not real” music [as far as my metal head would tell you].

I bought more Combichrist stuff and started to look at their influences and associated acts. I bought more. Bands like:

  • Aesthetic Perfection
  • Reaper
  • Suicide Commando
  • Funker Vogt
  • Hex-Rx
  • Panzer AG

Pretty much all of this is what I would now call EBM, Aggrotech or Hellektro. These names are good because it means I am back on the edge of society and seeking to be different with my music. When Metallica took the world by storm in 1992 or so I was done with them. Their sound had changed and I didn’t like it any more. The “edge” had gone. This new music I had found has an edge. It makes me feel uncomfortable [sometimes] and it is different.

I have tried to describe it to friends and I say:

It’s heavy metal without any guitars. The lyrics are nasty and the tunes are awesome.


It’s kinda dance music but without the nice lyrics and happy stuff.

I have leant this stuff to friends who like the same sort of metal as me and they don’t really get on with it. They apologised and handed back the USB stick. That’s fine by me because it means I can carry on feeling “on the edge” and liking the music. This stuff ain’t ever going to be mainstream. It sometimes sounds like it should be playing in a night club on a Saturday night but then I have no idea what sort of stuff these people would play. I’d love to be in a club and hear this stuff come on and the crowd just freak out because it hurts them.

I am struggling to come to terms with my new found musical taste. It irks me that I’ve gone for samples and drum machines. I’ve been to see these people play. I’ve liked their music. I’ve had a great time. Yet still the 18 year old me is somewhat miffed at this odd turn in my ear pleasures. As an extreme I have seen a “band” with three Apple Macs on stage and a few leads and then they danced around pressing the odd key here and there. I loved it. There’s a tiny part of me that isn’t sure it’s music but I like it anyway. Over time I’m sure I’ll heal this mental riff. Much like I’ve got used to being a university snob when at the age of 17 I hated that person!

If you want to try this stuff then have a look for the following tracks:

  • 190 – Reaper
  • X-Junkie – Reaper
  • Hit The Streets – Aesthetic Perfection
  • In The Pit – Combichrist
  • God Bless – Combichrist
  • Tip The Dancer – Panzer AG

I am now listening to more industrial stuff. The following bands are on my current active list:

  • Faderhead
  • Eisbecher
  • Rotersand
  • Front 242
  • VNV Nation

My metal taste buds are still there. I watched Mentallica last night. I went to Download last year. I’m going to see Therapy? and FFDP soon. However, this Hellektro is here to stay and just wonderfully stunning: suck on that 18 year old me!