Name: Kit Ekman

Birthday: Old enough that my first music purchase was the KISS 'Double Platinum' double-vinyl album with gatefold sleeve and embossed portraits of the band members.

Current location: Alabama, U.S.

Current occupation: Keeper of Justice (I'm a staff attorney for a federal judge)

Hobbies: Drinking beer, distance running (with metal blasting in headphones, of course), baseball (go Phillies!), sports games on PS2, trying to keep my decaying house intact.

Favorite books: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Weiss & Hickman's Death Gate Cycle, Cervantes' Don Quixote, anything by Tom Clancy.

Favorite movies: Die Hard, Braveheart, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Troy.

Words that describe me: Unabashedly, unwaveringly metal.

Instrumental talents: I have an old lefty Fender Strat up in the attic, but it would be a gross exaggeration to say I know how to play it.

Past and present band experience: None, to the delight of eardrums worldwide.

Favorite music listening location and why: In a concert hall, front-row center, with a beer in one hand and a killer band on stage.

How I got into metal: I watched 'Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park' on television when I was seven, and became corrupted for life.

Most influential bands: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Manowar, Metallica, Fates Warning with John Arch, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer.

Favorite/most memorable concerts: Too many to list, but (excluding festivals) my favorites would include: Gamma Ray/Sonata Arctica/Vanishing Point, Vienna, Austria, October 2001; Rage 20th Anniversary Show, Nuremberg, Germany, January 2004; Dio/Accept, Pensacola, FL, June 1986; Metallica/Queensryche, Worcester, MA, March 1989; Manowar, Winston; Salem, NC, March 2002; Iced Earth/Destiny's End, Richmond, VA, June 1999; Savatage/Trouble, Boston, MA, September 1990; Mercyful Fate/Solitude Aeturnus, Boston, MA, January 1995; Hammerfall/Virgin Steele/Freedom Call, Langen, Germany, February 2001; Gamma Ray/Paragon, Paris, France, November 2002.

Genre likes: See below...

Genre dislikes: See below...

Thoughts on the metal genres:
Black metal: The raw, underproduced, two-guys-in-the-forest-beating-kitchen-pans-together-while-carving-pentagrams-in-our-arms-and-screeching-uncontrollably vibe I don't understand or appreciate. And I loathe blastbeats. That said, it's difficult not to praise the likes of Dimmu Borgir and Dissection (if you can even call them black metal anymore) as well as bands like Finntroll and Wintersun that meld black metal with folk music. I also thought highly of Bathory, which was almost certainly a crucial band in the creation of this style.
Death metal: I love the melodic death metal style proffered by In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and scads of imitators in the late 1990s, but can't really abide the Cannibal Corpse brand of death metal.
Doom metal: In my mind, there are two kinds of doom metal. The first is the classic, melodic doom metal popularized by Candlemass, Trouble and Solitude Aeturnus, and carried on today by those acts, as well as Thunderstorm, Memory Garden, Doomshine, and Well of Souls, among others. Classic, melodic doom completely rules the earth when I'm in the proper mood. The other doom metal is that more stoner crap like Orange Goblin, The Obsessed, Penance, Sheavy, and the like. I don't have much patience for it.
Folk metal: A burgeoning genre with huge potential. Bands like Skyclad, Mago de Oz, Sauron Lamderth, Ensiferum, Finntroll, Korpiklaani and Moonsorrow may approach folk in different ways, but I'm a huge fan of each of them.
Gothic metal: Not enough crunch for me.
Heavy/melodic metal: The sweet spot, where it all started.
Power metal: It may be oversaturated, but it remains my very favorite style of metal. Nothing else can compare to a speedy riff, a cannonade of double-bass drums, a wailing singer, and a swelling chorus telling tales of bravery and glory on a battlefield far away.
Progressive metal: Not enough crunch and, often, not enough focus on songwriting for my tastes.
Symphonic metal: I'm not much of a fan of keyboards, but when symphonic metal is done well (a la Virgin Steele, the Rage orchestral CDs, or Rhapsody), I support it wholeheartedly.
Thrash metal: Excellent. I'm thrilled that in 2005, we have Kreator, Destruction, Exodus, Heathen, Hirax, Death Angel, and others still here to pound us into oblivion. Now if only Flotsam & Jetsam could release a proper thrashy album again, we'd be in business.

Favorite musicians: Kai Hansen, Peavy Wagner, Rock'n'Rolf Kasparek, Jon Schaffer, Piet Sielck, Dave Lombardo, Steve Harris.

Favorite vocalists: Bruce Dickinson, Eric Adams, Ronnie James Dio, Robert Lowe, Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin, Ralf Scheepers, James Rivera.

Favorite CD covers: Grim Reaper 'See you in hell', Warlock 'Triumph and agony', Axel Rudi Pell 'Masquerade ball', Candlemass 'Nightfall', Overkill 'F**k you' E.P., Iron Maiden 'Somewhere in time', Grave Digger 'Heart of darkness'.

Favorite bands: Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Rage, Manowar, Iced Earth, Jag Panzer, Falconer, Mago de Oz, Iron Maiden, Exodus, Kreator, Iron Savior, Rhapsody, Virgin Steele, Running Wild.

Favorite CDs: Gamma Ray 'Land of the free', Falconer 's/t', Rage 'Trapped', Blind Guardian 'Somewhere far beyond', Helloween 'Walls of Jericho', Iron Maiden 'Powerslave', Dio 'The last in line', Fates Warning 'Awaken the guardian', Metallica 'Master of puppets', Slayer 'Reign in blood', Savatage 'Streets', Solitude Aeturnus 'Through the darkest hour', W.A.S.P. 'The crimson idol', Iced Earth 'Night of the stormrider', Running Wild 'Black hand inn'.

CDs that are overrated: "Overratedness" is in the eye of the beholder.

CDs that are underrated: So is "underratedness".

Most prized metal posession: Framed display of program books, wristbands, tickets, and photos from Wacken Open Air Festival from 1998 through 2000.

Reasons I joined the Metal CD Ratings site: I wanted an outlet for writing metal reviews; 2. I wanted to discipline myself to listen to new CDs in a critical way, rather than simply letting the floods of new music wash over me in an undifferentiated mask; 3. Chicks dig it.

Advantages to being a reviewer on the Metal CD Ratings site: Time will tell.

Disadvantages to being a reviewer on the Metal CD Ratings site: Ditto.

Bands I would like to see in concert: I've been very fortunate to be able to see most of my favorite bands at various stages in my metal-listening career, but if I had to choose, I'd want to see: KISS circa 1976-77; Metallica with Cliff Burton; Helloween circa 1985 ('Walls of Jericho' era); Blind Guardian circa 'Tokyo Tales'; Iron Maiden on the 'Powerslave' tour.

People I would like to meet: Listening to the music is generally much more rewarding than meeting those who create it.

What I would like to see for the future of metal: That it stays with us in a pure, unadulterated form forever.



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