FEED THE ANGER: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love S/T Boss Andrew Parks

What, me worry? Andrew at his best.

Caps in the tub

By Aaron Richter

In the interest of truth telling, up until about six weeks ago, I’d always worried about my boss, self-titled Editor-in-Chief Andrew Parks. Not worried that his fiery temper when dealing with the Bolivians might put both his and my life at risk (not an actual trait of Andrew’s). Or worried that his tendency to toss lamps out of apartment windows might one day injure a passing pedestrian (indeed an actual trait of Andrew’s). But simply worried about his taste in music. Sure, we share a similar permutation of indie-rock interests that stem from a general love of the Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine. And yeah, the first time we met was to see Comets on Fire rock the holy hell out of a Brooklyn rooftop. But Andrew had set aside a darkened corner of his heart for metal (or as my mom would call it, “You mean heavy metal?”). And I just didn’t get it.

He seemed to carry a certain irony about it. (We’d joke about how many ways he could convey the phrase “as if they’d amplified the fiery depths of hell” in articles for Decibel.) Though I could never be certain. I’d spent enough time with Mastodon, Pelican and Torche to realize my interest in doom, sludge, dark, black, stoner, speed, grind, instru-, melodic metal wasn’t getting any deeper. The boundary was appreciation, never infatuation. 

But as 2008 crumbled to a close, one night I found myself, a beer in hand and a few in my gut, with a curious itch. (Pause.) Maybe it was out of boredom or maybe some unrecognized misanthropy coursing through my veins, but ducking my head into my laptop, I decided to pour through the year’s best in extreme music, or everything obscenely brutal I’d shamefully neglected to care about for the past 12 months. I discovered Nachtmystium, a black metal group notable for the bold audacity to unleash saxophone flurries á la Steve Mackay’s Funhouse psychedelics. I explored Disfear, a crisp Swedish troupe touting vocals by the apparently legendary bellower of At the Gates (a band I’d never heard of). I delved into Krallice, a Mick Barr-led Brooklyn outfit so visceral that I felt like my brain were being pounded to mush. I loved it all, and I sense the seeds of obsession beginning to sprout. 

Not much later, on a flight home to visit my family in St. Louis, I developed an awful case of nerves, the kind that no amount of Dramamine can truly cure. It was a nauseating brand of flight anxiety licked with flashes of claustrophobia triggered by the whomph of the closing cabin door that had me sweaty palmed, squeezing my eyes to shut, begging my mind to simply doze off. Once the stewardess approved the use of handheld electronics, I crushed my earbuds in place, set the volume to “dear god” and let Krallice’s seismic tidal waves engulf my distress, putting my body at calm. The unrelenting cacophony washed across me and despite the music’s swirling chaos, I eased into pure control and clarity in a powerful way that I’ll never forget.

In the weeks that have passed since, I’d guess that 80 percent of my music listening has been some form of metal–a new discovery, a essential benchmark or a Baroness record that gets stuck on repeat. Basically me playing catch-up. I’ve infected others, too (something I’m damn proud of). And I worry less about bossface Andrew (at least about his taste in music). 

All that said, “Feed the Anger” is a new column about metal written by someone who is only recently discovering the genre’s rich fruits. As a music writer, I pride myself in knowing my shit so I can tell you how you’re wrong and how I’m right. But with metal, I’m feeling comfortable not knowing–or at least learning as I go. You’ll see that my reactions are elementary and basic, but clear and honest. Yeah, you might call me a poser. But fuck you, man, at least I’m trying.