Metal sounds wrong now, but in fact, it always did.
Metal in 2018 is brickwalled, uber-compressed, each lick recorded separately, Pro-Tooled to death. But metal on record has maybe never sounded like it should.
To hear what it should sound like, we need to go back. Not all the way back to the beginning – to the first Black Sabbath record and early occult rock efforts by the likes of Lucifer’s Friend or Bang – but to 1980.
1980 was Year Zero for the metal demo scene. These tapes, which were obscure then, but priceless now, are metal how it should be heard – drowned in tape hiss and testosterone, recorded in the drummer’s dad’s garage, the bass player’s O-level art-standard homemade backdrop a magical totem presiding over this great initiation rite of (mostly – at this stage) teenage boys in fertility-endangering skintight denim and studs.
Sure, some of these spotty young men would go on to be multibillionaires and make slick MTV rock. Others would still be playing their local pub 38 years on. They all believed. The beautiful motherfuckers.
The music, on this mixtape – from a handful of demo tapes produced during those early fumbling years of 1980-84 are all too fast, too noisy (in fact barely audible at times), and absolutely no one can play their instruments or sing. The guitar solos are incredible.
While some of these bands would later become mainstays of metal and still draw considerable audiences, at this great equalising level of the shonkily produced first demo, they’re all just as terrible and delusional as each other.
What’s worth remembering is this was music at the cutting edge – no records sounded like this yet, but in the coming years and decades labels and other bands would catch up with this visionary assault.
If you love this unaffected, screaming noise even a hundredth as much as I do then that will make me very happy.