As part of the massive, 53-artist compilation set to arrive next month in celebration of Metallica's 30th anniversary of their seminal Black Album, Corey Taylor has long championed the band as one of this most formative influences. Showcasing his rendition of "Holier Than Thou," heavy culture's renaissance man is able to pay homage to the not only the band's legacy, but what is regarded as a masterpiece in the most successful album of the Soundscan era.
To further explore the Taylor's influence derived from Metallica, the frontman sat in for an in-depth conversation with veteran journalist and cultural commentator Ryan J. Downey. The seasoned scribed also serves as host of the Metallica-centric podcast Speak N' Destroy. Taking an exploratory deep dive into Taylor's connection to Metallica, Downey began with the exchange with some discussion about the significance their generation and their shared midwest lineage.
Taylor would go onto the recall how his Midwest roots firmly entrenched his sense of work ethic. He talked about his grandmother worked two different jobs for more than 20 years a piece and only retired when health forced her to - and even then was still "sharp as a tack". Combining that kind of work ethic with knowing the harsh realities of living hand to mouth, sleeping in cars, and toughing it out on the streets, there is a sense resilience that compels you to work relentlessly.
As for Taylor's road of musical self-discovery, he shared how pivotal the years of 1986 and 1987 were in his own personal evolution. Referring to 1986 as a sounding gun for a new generation, Taylor explained how Metallica's Master of Puppets and Megadeth's Peace Sells... both arrived that year and changed his life from the second he heard them. Shortly there after he discovered Slayer's Reign In Blood and in 1987, Anthrax's Among the Living and further cemented his musical foundation.
Taylor explained how the burgeoning thrash sound still had a nexus to the heavy stuff that preceded it, in that it stemmed from artists like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple - but it was harder, faster, and much more volatile. The metal kids, the punks, and even the alternative rock kids all found something in that thrash sound that was electric, compelling. Plus, everyone's parents immediately hated it which is always the best metric.
The frontman would go onto gush about Metallica's Master of Puppets, hailing the album for it's collection of "complete" songs and summarizing the album as "beautiful." He contrasted that with Megadeth's Peace Sells... and explained that the album is an absolute guitar clinic, so much in fact that he feels the riffs on "Wake Up Dead" should be studio on their own.
Teleporting fans back to his earliest experiences with the sound, Taylor shared how his childhood friends in the Schmidt brothers were the ones that introduced him to the world of heavy. Starting with the likes of Maiden and even Aerosmith, it wasn't until the the brothers Eric and Shay hit play on Master of Puppets that Taylor says e finally found a sound that was his.
Those deep dives listening to Metallica, Megadeth, and screaming "Reign in Blood" while standing on furniture in a midwest living room were the instances of self-discovery that Taylor says finally gave him a musical release. While he had always loved music, nothing felt like it was his the way that thrash metal did. It was hostile, it was cathartic and it belonged to him.
Watch the first segment of Corey Taylor's discussion of Metallica and his introduction to thrash with Ryan J. Downey below.