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Tales from the Jugular

Metal as a Guiding Light?

By: Eric Compton
Published: Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Tales From The Jugular - Metal As A Guiding Light?

Your favorite metal publicist, EC, has reached a crossroads. This will probably be the biggest year of my life, a checkpoint on what has been a fabulous and eventful life thus far. 2006 will be the year that I turn 30, a major milestone for most individuals. At the same time this will be the first year that I experience fatherhood. My wife and I, married for four years, are expecting Olivia Grace Compton somewhere around June 19th. I have always said my life could go two ways, the first being NEVER married, never involved, and never to the point where I could settle down, so to speak. The other option was the exact OPPOSITE, that being a nice size house, well manicured lawn, and a great family. It looks like by mid-June that will no longer be an option but a reality.

I can't tell you how excited I am to bring life into the world. I can't believe that this journey has brought me here, to this place, to this event, to this wonderful and exciting opportunity to watch and experience growth from the very first breath. In thinking about all of these upcoming changes and milestones, I have had the opportunity to reflect on my life thus far and how I got to this point in my life. It was during this thought process that it came to me, a proverbial "grand vision" that my life follows a road map created by heavy metal. No, I don't mean this as a silly leatherneck cliche. In all honesty I believe that without heavy metal my life is completely different. You can chalk up my life events to the butterfly effect, simple coincidence, or a life path that has been guided by metal music. After giving it much thought, I would have to say that heavy metal has guided me through the various stages of my life. It has been my chief coordinator and planner, and in many ways has led me to my current place in time. Without going too far into storytelling mode, I will explain to you how my life has been dictated by heavy metal music. How my life has been controlled by "metal forces" that have kept my life on a certain path.

My marriage was heavy metal destiny. Yeah, that is right. Marriage made from metal. I met my wife through a friend, Troy Cole, who also is one third owner of Maximum Metal. The events that led to the meeting follows a distinct, clear path guided by heavy metal. I was single at the time and doing some tape/CD trading with Troy Cole. I started going over to his house dropping off CDs and picking items up from him. His wife asked me to come out and play some volleyball. Well I did, and I met my wife Laura. IF it wasn't for the heavy metal trading then I wouldn't have been in contact with him at that moment and never would have met my wife. For the record she hates heavy metal.

My employment is another fine example of musical wonder. In 1994 I graduated high school and went on from there to work at WalMart stocking fruit shelves. I then spent the money on import heavy metal titles from bands like Amorphis, Sentenced, Pyogenesis, and Paradise Lost. One afternoon I was walking back from break and ran across a gentleman who worked inside of a bank located at the entrance to Walmart. I was in my peach stained apron and he was in a suit and tie. But for one moment we were the exact same. He noticed my Iron Maiden shirt under my Walmart apron, and then began to talk to me about various metal bands that he knew about and collected. That simple little conversation turned into a still thriving eight year friendship. Through those eight years I have learned tons of useful metal info from the late '70s through today's Swedish hard rock scene. But beyond just the heavy metal, he must have saw potential in me. Heavy metal music bridged the gap between the blue collar fruit shelves to the white collar suit and tie. If it was anything other than a metal fan meeting a metal fan then the conversation would have never happened. But it did, and within a year I went to work with him at a mortgage company. I went from "lazy young adult living at home" to banker telling people about interest rates and future home financing. I am still in the mortgage business, still making a great living off of banking, and my friend is still doing the exact same thing as well. Our love for metal is still growing and now we can talk about home interest rates in the same conversation as a new Dio record.

All of my friendships have been started from some sort of heavy metal spark. I met what I would consider a brother in 1993. He had the same passion and love for heavy metal that I did. We were both new listeners to heavy metal at that time, and our friendship expanded as we both picked up new albums and learned about new bands. To this day we still call each other every few weeks to talk about the "new stuff" that is out online or on the shelves. We have seen numerous metal shows together and have managed to stay in contact through the power of heavy metal. The same can be said for another "brother", Maximum Metal's IcedMojo, who I came into contact with in 1996. I introduced him to heavy metal, and to this day he is still jamming all of the new albums and bands. Our lives have followed the same path. He is now a family man, I am becoming a family man, and we still talk about the metal any chance we get. I'll never forget climbing up to his apartment roof, which was basically a room inside of a bicycle shop, and playing bands like Steel Prophet, Stuck Mojo, Iced Earth, and Amorphis for him. My friend Troy Cole, who of course has the same passion for metal that I do, has given me a part-time job twice. Both of those employment opportunities just gave us the chance to stand around and talk about metal bands. Now, we work on Maximum Metal together and still trade and share heavy metal CDs. The list goes on and on with friends and close aquaintances that I have made through the power of music.

That brings us to Maximum Metal, a simple idea that was born through one simple little moment. I was standing in the heavy metal section of a local record store when I spotted a guy wearing a Punisher shirt. As he made his way over to me I noticed his hands picking up bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Kamelot. Being the friendly metal fan that I am, I made my way over and said "Nice shirt". That was pretty much all it took. The heavy metal energy started to flow and about seven months later Frank Hill and I talked to Troy Cole about forming Maximum Metal. About sixty days after that we were writing our first Tales From The Jugular column. Now the site consumes just about every free moment of our time, but we do it out of love for metal.

It is our passion.

It is our calling.

It is our Guiding Light.

--Eric Compton 05.16.06




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