JF Poulin - A Metal Journey

I guess you aren't born a metalhead; that's for sure. We all have our path […]
February 3, 2016

I guess you aren't born a metalhead; that's for sure. We all have our path to what has brought us to metal in some way or another. The path is a winding road for a lot of us but when we get there, it's worth it. I was born in 1981 and my dad used to listen to a lot of music probably even when I was in the womb. My dad listened to a lot of vinyl back then, a lot of LED ZEP, BEATLES but also BLACK SABBATH. My dad has a significant Black Sabbath collection and he still is a great fan to this and he is in his mid sixties. So I listened to BLACK SABBATH and a lot of Hard Rock when I was very young. My dad loved to listen to the radio as well, especially CHOM FM and Oldies 990. Two stations that played a lot of classic rock and I had a very rock and roll upbringing to say the least. However, I wasn't much aware of my musical surroundings.

So when I was 7-8 years old I listened to the commercial radios and loved the pop stuff and I drifted towards that. It lasted a few years but 1992, I discovered Heavy Metal again. In 1992 I bought "Anthrax Live: The Island Years" at Club Biz (a store that had electronics, music CDs, video games, etc.). I liked the cover art and thought I would like to listen to this album so I asked my parents to buy it from me. While my brother was a metalhead; since 1990 with METALLICA and early GUNS N ROSES, I wasn't yet keen on my musical taste. I was instantly hooked and loved every minute of it.

Then I started to buy CDs on my own with my pocket money or allowance. So I went to the Flea Market and bought myself "Sound of White Noise" in 1993 and was surprised that it wasn't the same ANTHRAX singer. Still I loved this album so much and it's still in my top ten ever. So I started my metal journey but I still listened to some Punk Rock back in 1993-1994 but I put that on the backburner and listened to a lot of Metal bands like MEGADETH and METALLICA back then. My brother bought in 1993 a compilation that had a lot of Metal bands. It had new songs from Hard Rock eterans like MOTLEY CRUE and SKID ROW but also had a new ANTHRAX song (though it was a CHEAP TRICK cover) but it was some DREAM THEATER. We both fell in love with this band and the technical mumbo jumbo they did. Ever since I have been a very big fan and seen them at least 5 times.

Fast forward to 1999, in an article in the local paper, we saw that BLACK SABBATH was coming for their reunion show in Montreal. We begged our dad to go and he did his best and got his company to leave him the Company Loge at the Bell Center here in Montreal. I was 17 years old and it was my first show ever. The emotion, the sound (I was born half deaf and have had countless ear operations that haven't helped much) and the chills I had were incredible. I was with my dad, my brother, my uncle, his best friend and my cousin. We had a blast and I was hooked ever since to see shows. I was not fraternizing with the other fans but that would for another time and place.

I started regularly to see shows in 2001 when I saw a few GODSMACK shows, probably the only Nu Metal band I really liked and they have awesome energy live. I still had an affinity for Classic Rock and continued to listen to CHOM FM even though I had a penchant for Heavy Metal. I enjoyed a lot of the classic bands like CCR, QUEEN and GENESIS, my dad was a huge fan and also listened to allot of Prog Rock like PINK FLOYD and YES, back then. I saw YES in concert in 2005 and it was an awesome show with an orchestra; I still have the DVD of that tour. I also saw Roger Waters a few years back for my birthday and it was incredible, such an awesome show and the closest I will ever see PINK FLOYD in person (hell they came in 1994 but I was not a real fan back then and discovered my passion for them a few years later, unfortunately).

I really started to go see shows with my brother starting in 2004; I went to see a few SYMPHONY X shows and one hell of a PORCUPINE TREE also. I started to broaden my horizons in Metal and my brother made me listen to a lot of different bands. I really started to be a big fan of older bands like PRIEST and MAIDEN and I was also able to discover bands like OPETH and ARCH ENEMY. I was not a big fan of rough vocals but I really started to open my ears to all their music and became a big fan. I may not be the best fan of harsh vocals but I started to enjoy it with OPETH. I remember vividly a vicious circle pit at Foufounes Electriques for the ARCH ENEMY show, I had to restrain my brother because he got stomped by an idiot who was there (obviously not 'there' in the head). My brother got helped up by some guys but was visibly pissed! I restrained him and when there was a breakdown of one the songs, my buddy Seb (who is 5 ft 3), completely obliterated the guy with an elbow to the face, right in front of the security guys. Hell, the security guys smiled and said the guy was giving problems to a lot of people that night and he deserved it. Allot of people congratulated my friend and there was a lot of camaraderie that night. I remember between songs that were singing IRON MAIDEN songs with complete unknowns but there was this unbreakable bond that night that had a huge effect on me.

Other than that, I can say that the metal brotherhood was alive and kicking. I was impressed by the camaraderie I mentioned beforehand. The chorus singing, the smiles, talking with other metal heads, a lot of respect between us metal heads and no egos. If someone goes down at a show in a circle pit, we get him up and we want to make sure he is ok. We care for each other more than any other music fans. We like to drink together, chat and have fun together. I never see as many smiles as I see in Metal shows. The fans are passionate and love it to the bone. I don't see fights between fans (other than people who want to cause trouble or bikers). They are a line we don't cross and we get along. I mean you always see fights in Pop Music shows, between crazed fans. You will never (almost) see that in metal shows. We have this bond that we all share. It might be the energy of ALESTORM or the viciousness of CANNIBAL CORPSE, but we will always have each other's back if something bad happens. But we take our aggression out in a sense but we are not there to harm anyone. We want to let it all out!

The chills, the emotions I get when I see shows with my friends or my brother are remarkable. We have a great time, we savour each minute of the music and spending time together. I will always remember the smile on my brother when he saw Primal Fear with me almost two years ago; it was priceless and made it all worthwhile. He had a blast and I smiled proudly as the younger brother in all of this. I have so much fun at those shows, even if it's 25 people or 40000 people, I have the same feelings inside of me. We are all here to listen to good heavy metal music and have fun. It's fun to be able to talk to the bands or some members of the bands we come to see. Especially in smaller shows, it's always fun to talk to the guys and those metal guys have no egos, they are happy that you like their music and they will listen to what you have to say. There is a huge connection between metal bands and metal fans; it's like nothing in this world. It's an honor to talk to those bands and just to meet them is a huge thrill for me and any metal fan. I remember meeting and chatting with Blaze Bayley, former singer of IRON MAIDEN at a local show in Montreal, what a nice guy and so down to earth. I posed for a pic and he signed my "X Factor" album while he signed my brother's Blaze Solo Albums. It was amazing to meet him and just to chat with him a few minutes was one of my proudest moments as a metal fan.

I was able to see a lot of legendary bands and there is a lot of bands on my bucket list (HELLOWEEN being one of them and I will be able to see them in February as a birthday gift from my brother!) I was able to see HEAVEN AND HELL, BLACK SABBATH, DOWN (unfortunately not PANTERA!), JUDAS PRIEST, MEGADETH, SLAYER, ANTHRAX, IRON MAIDEN, MOTORHEAD, ALICE COOPER, the list goes on and on. I feel really blessed to have seen a whole bunch of bands. I have seen a lot of local bands and it's always fun to support those local bands who are in fact pretty great fellows. I want to see METALLICA before I leave this world, that's for sure. But being able to see a lot of bands in Montreal is pretty awesome, we are a Metal city and a lot of European bands come here and some shows are pretty epic (TURISAS, ALESTORM, PRIMAL FEAR, BLIND GUARDIAN, etc.). We are so blessed to have so many bands come here to Montreal! I think the bands love to come here and even in bigger festivals like Heavy MTL and the former Gigantours, the bands seem to be happy to play here and have tons of fun out there.

A few summers ago I went to see one of my favourite bands, 3 INCHES OF BLOOD (without knowing it would be there last show in Montreal) at a very small venue. I finished early from work and went drinking before the show and went to the venue. No one was there and they were practicing. I went upstairs and saw the soundcheck, the bands seemed to be happy seeing me headbang to it. I quickly came back outside and met a fellow fan, we chatted and saw we had a lot in common. We came back upstairs and asked when the doors would be open and it was in an hour. We talked in line and we were the only two there until a couple came in behind us and started talking to us. Something you would never see in line to a Pop Music show, everyone has their own agenda in those cases. So we started to talk and really hit it off and time passed by so fast. These people were so nice and some of the most down to earth people I had ever met at a show. So when the doors opened (we were the first four in line), we took a table all together and had such a great time together. Well that couple of Sebastien ''Bass'' Parent (fellow Metal Temple reviewer) and his charming wife. Two of the nicest people you will ever meet. We talk about passionate fans, well those two fit the bill admirably. To this day, he is a good friend and talked to me about this site and I decided to give it a go as a reviewer and I haven't regretted my decision on joining Metal Temple.

All in all, the metal brotherhood is a big family, we may have different Metal tastes but we are a bunch of people that are caring fans. We care about each other, we will have everyone's back and we might have grown us metal fans even though we didn't begin as metal fans. The journey is a long one and I still love classic rock and I like a number of other styles. I can see the beauty in Classical Music and Jazz Music but I will always be a metalhead at heart. This is who I am, I am quite proud of it even though it hasn't been easy being a metal fan especially in the early 1990's when Pop was King and Rap had a lot of space in the music world.

I wouldn't change a thing, the chills of the shows, the camaraderie between fans, the smiles and fist pumping; hell, I wouldn't change in for anything in this world.

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