By Jarrett Lehman
Metalheads, rejoice – Iron Maiden is coming to a city near you! The heavy-metal band will be playing a North American tour to promote their newest studio album, “The Final Frontier,” due for release late this summer.
The closest tour stop to Fitchburg will be at Madison Square Garden in New York on July 12. Iron Maiden will be accompanied by progressive metal group Dream Theater, and there’s already a crowd lined up from Fitchburg, waiting to see them.
“Yeah, a few kids are getting together to plan a summer trip to see them,” said FSC student Nick Gordon. “The bus from Boston to New York is just about 30 bucks.”
Iron Maiden falls under the heading of heavy metal, and while it may be iconic to the metal fans of Fitchburg, it’s far from the only type of metal out there. There is also classic metal, death metal, progressive metal, thrash metal, black metal, power metal, Viking death metal, folk metal, country death metal, and the list goes on and on.
While Iron Maiden got its start back in the 1970s, many local metal fans were born more recently. “The majority of metal guitarists we get here range from the ages of 12 to 21, really,” says an employee of City Music in Leominster, which offers guitar lessons.
As far as metal guitarists go, most like to tune the guitar they play to “drop-C” tuning. Drop C means that they tune the guitar strings down two steps on the heaviest string, and one step on all the other strings. Guitarists say that this creates the “brutal” tone they’re looking for in metal. Another advantage to drop-C tuning is that it’s easier to play chords faster.
“All you really have to do in drop-C tuning to make a chord is lay your finger down across the strings, no shapes involved,” says the City Music employee. “It’s a nice, easy way to sound heavy and thick, but it’s somewhat annoying when the customers tune the guitars and then we have to make sure they’re back in standard tuning by the end of the day. A lot of people don’t realize drop-C is just one way to do it.”
There’s not just one type of metal to listen to, either. “I like some black metal, folk metal, Viking metal,” says FSC student Emily Butera. “Bands like Ensiferum, Anaal Nathrakh, and Skeletonwitch – if I had to pick three, those would be my favorites.”
So what does black metal sound like, exactly? Nick Gordon explains, “It’s like listening to bees in a can, while some guy is screaming while getting stung by them.” To this statement, Butera glares, stating, “It’s an acquired taste; if you’re not already a fan of metal, you wouldn’t get it at all.”
For his part, Gordon lists his favorite bands as “Arch Enemy, they’re death metal; Hammerfall, a cool power-metal band; and definitely Symphony X, progressive band.”
Pat Grasso says that his favorite metal bands are All That Remains, Shadows Fall, and Iron Maiden. “Dude, All That Remains and Shadows Fall are not only great bands, they’re bands from around here,” Grasso says. “They’re from Massachusetts, and I’ve seen them both at Mayhemfest ‘09. I can’t wait to see Iron Maiden.”
Neither can Ian Kay, 25, of Chartwell food service. “I was actually a really mild-mannered kid,” he says. “It was my mother who was always rockin’ out, and she brought me up on a lot of metal bands. So yeah, I’ll definitely be going to the concert.”