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Everyone can recall the first time they heard, played, or saw, a certain entry into a long running series. I’m no different. With Apoch’s Metal Review now in it’s fourth year, and I start to reflect on fourteen years of Metal intrigue, it felt appropriate to share the early days of my journey into the land of rebellion, frostbite, gore and unicorns by discussing some of my first experiences with my favorite bands in the day before instant internet gratification, when you had to physically search for and even wait to buy a physical pressing. This was before cable and DSL became standards, before the social networking boom, prior to the creation of Youtube, iTunes, and the Metal Archives. This is a look back at my first album from…

Sentenced (Logo)

One of the earliest Metal bands I really got into was the group Sentenced, and it was just a random purchase at the local used CD store. I walked in with very little money left in my pocket, and immediately ran to the back of the store to see if anything new had come in that I could afford. Sitting on display above the racks was a cardboard sleeve with a really interesting design on it that immediately grabbed my attention, which was their album Crimson.

Sentenced: Crimson

There was no real expectations for this album, other than a general anticipation of what lies on the plastic disc, whether it will be good or bad. I had already happened on a few horrible albums by the time I picked this one up, and without the internet to really look anything up, it was all going on a whim. I had no idea how well known this group was at the time, and the store owner didn’t really do much to boost my expectations. But, perhaps that was for the best.

I didn’t really throw this one into the player at the time I got home, as I had also purchased a new video game to play. But, when it came time to sit down and force myself to study and do homework, I threw this one on as company. “Bleed in My Arms” was a soothing track that, at first, didn’t strike me as much, but I enjoyed it and bobbed my head along to the beat while working on whatever math problem or social studies question it was. Eventually, a few songs in, I just laid back, wished I had a lyric sheet, and just let the music take me away for a little bit. It wasn’t until the single I didn’t know about kicked in that I was officially hooked. “Killing Me, Killing You” was an emotional Metal ride that I simply loved and had to hear again a second time. Of course, that wasn’t the only one. “Fragile” and “Dead Moon Rising” had me stopping everything and hitting the skip back button, and I was very excited for the album to finish so I could go back and hear all of them again, especially “Home in Despair” and “With Bitterness and Joy.” The atmosphere was rich, the music was soothing, and I immediately was hooked on a new band that quickly became one of my favorites.

But, the music itself is not the only reason Crimson means a lot to me. It was an album during a few very shakey periods in my life. My friends and I would hang out and relax to this album, and as time went on with other Sentenced albums. This was an album I brought with me to the first party some of my new friends, who I still talk to today had invited me to. It acted as a comfort blanket since the bullying made me not too sociable, but it was something they were all willing to work me through. It was one of the warmest events of my life and eventually I felt like I fit in with others from my grade for the first time. It also was the album I lost my virginity to, and a vivid reminder of how happy I was back in those days, as well as the misery and hell that bitch put me through months later, and again a good ten years later out of my own damned stupidity…

But, warm and fuzzy feelings aside, this was an important album to me growing up. Without it, I probably wouldn’t have as strong a Rock appreciation as I do now. I grew up with my mother due to a divorce, and most of my time in the car I was being forced to sit through Classic Rock bands, and when you’re a kid being forced into something, you tend not to enjoy it. Chances are good I never would have been as into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or even The Who as I am today, though they are still more of a casual enjoyment than anything, as I don’t own any of their albums, nor do I actively seek the songs out on a regular basis.

This one made me crave more, but due to the way the local stores were at the time, obtaining the albums was near impossible, and I had to rely on my friends, though at the time I was the only one with a Sentenced album to begin with. Over the years, I started to pick up more from Sentenced. The Cold White Light was a recent release not too long after I picked up Crimson, and I was there day one to add it to the scraps that would grow into my Metal collection. This is another album I love to throw in and just lose myself with. When I finally got the internet and a bank card, I ordered Down on-line, but never got too into that release. I also bought a copy of Amok / Love & Death later on, but it wound up being a CD-R from the local flea market and not the actual album (goodbye thirteen US dollars I never did see again), and eventually added Frozen to the collection as well, though this and Crimson wound up stolen at a party shortly after I acquired it, so I don’t really recall what I thought of the album back then. To this day I still have no idea who it was, and hope like hell it wasn’t one of my closest friends. I remember racing out in 2005 to pick up The Funeral Album and playing the whole thing from start to finish during my shift on WSFX FM as a farewell/thank you for all they did for me, and surely many others through the music.

Earlier this year, I came across a series of re-issues at the local chain store, including Frozen and Crimson, which I immediately bought and re-added to my collection. I have definitely gained a new respect for the first, and hearing Crimson in full again was a delight. I’m proud to have this one in the collection, though I intend to grab an original pressing again some day soon. The only gripe is the iconic blood red artwork has been dulled with a blue tint, and everything honestly just looks horrible. As much as I love the album, I can’t stand the artwork one bit and often have to put it out of my sight, as it just feels like a slap in the face of all the positive memories I have of it. Plus, having an album titled Crimson with blue artwork is just illogical, really.

There’s also a huge hole in my heart when it comes to Sentenced. I wish there would be another album. I wish The Funeral Album wasn’t my last day-one purchase from them. I wish they were active so I could maybe see them live. This is a band on my list of groups I wish I saw and will probably never get to see. Sure, there’s Poisonblack but it’s not the same. But, in the end, I just sit back and think about how it’s been twenty-one, twenty-two years now, and I’m still infatuated with this album. Crimson is still one of my main go-to albums when I just want to relax, or if I want to sing in the car when I’m by myself. I admit, I still become nostalgic when I hear it, but not about the girl that tried to literally ruin my life because she couldn’t keep her damn legs shut around men in general. I think back to those parties with my friends, throwing this on around 4am when we were all winding down, and either relaxing, or passing out to the soothing material. But, in the end, it’s that kind of somber mood that just enhances the atmosphere of this album for me, and makes me never want to give it up, let alone hit the stop button…

Sentenced (band)Article based on physical material material provided by personal funds.