Sunday Sesh: Albums You Just Can’t Quit


If you’ve been a metalhead for more than few years, you’ve likely seen your tastes evolve and change. These changes may be triggered by environmental factors, social circles, emotional distress, or just plain old aging and getting boring. Perhaps you’re the type who fooled around with hardcore in college only to settle into post-metal as you took an office job. Or maybe you used to jumpdafuqup in junior high only to find yourself headbanging to thrash all through high school. Whatever the case, we all have bands we’ve sloughed off as our identities and interests have grown and compressed. It’s inevitable, but we aren’t gathered here today to discuss those records we’ve left behind. No, today we’re here to talk about the albums that, by all rights, we shouldn’t like anymore but still do. Today’s question, then, is, “What is one album you still love that doesn’t seem to fit with your current tastes?”

As I’ve undoubtedly shared ’round these parts before, I was a late bloomer to metal. No one in my family listened to metal except my brother on the sly, and he was generally far more interested in country than anything else. I didn’t hang out with the kind of kids who listened to metal in junior high, so really, I didn’t hear very much of the genre until high school. One summer while working landscaping, however, my coworkers always kept the radio tuned to the local rock station, and a seed was planted. Later that summer my brother burned me a Metallica CD, thus beginning my long spiral into ruin.

From Metallica I moved to other big radio metal acts like Megadeth and Pantera as well as a fair bit of nu metal. I got into a bit of Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, but there was still a yearning for something heavier. Late in high school, just before college, I discovered Arch Enemy and In Flames, my melodic toeholds into the world of death. A playlist of Metallica, Pantera, MudvayneStatic-X, Judas Priest, Van Halen, and In Flames carried me into the collegiate world, but it was late in 2006, my first semester of undergrad, when I finally found the melodeath album of my dreams.

With Oden On Our Side sounded bigger and nastier than anything I had heard up to that point. The songs were all about pillaging and destroying, blood and vengeance. The double bass roared, and the riffs bristled with the thunder of the lightning god. Amon Amarth had me hooked, and I can’t even imagine how many nights I must have spent in my dorm room headbanging myself dizzy to “Cry of the Blackbirds.”

Obviously, most of those entry bands didn’t stick around for me. While I still enjoy Metallica and Iron Maiden, I haven’t listened to Pantera in years. Arch Enemy and In Flames are punchlines now, and the less said of my JNCO days, the better. Melodeath as a whole holds little charm for me; the genre itself is a pale shadow of its forebears, and if I do happen to find myself listening to something by At the Gates, I tend to just wish I was listening to something heavier. This should come to no surprise to readers who’ve pegged me as the skronk or weird death guy. With Oden On Our Side would probably be the last thing a reader here would expect me to love.

And yet, I still get excited when I press play on this record. I still bellow along about how Valhalla waits me when I die. I still band my head to the forked lightning solos in “Asator.” The hair on my arms still rises to the barbarous cruelty of “Gods of War Arise,” and I still make myself dizzy listening to the pulse-pounding guitarmonies of “Cry of the Blackbirds.” With Oden On Our Side still holds up.

So what’s your deal? What’s that album that folks ’round these parts wouldn’t expect you to still love? What’s that record you just can’t quit?

Sound off in the comments below.

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