Our latest musician to take the TWHMMTM challenge is Mark Kelson of perennial Sentinel Daily favourites The Eternal, who are fresh from delivering new album Skinwalker a week or so ago. So, what does heavy metal mean to Mark?

What initially drew you to heavy metal music, and how has your relationship with it evolved over time? “I got into heavy music when I was about thirteen, my step father was in a Melbourne heavy metal band, so when he married my mother I was exposed to a massive record collection and probably some bands a thirteen year old at the time wouldn’t get exposed to like Candlemass and Mercyful Fate. I was also drawn to the guitar at this point, so there was no looking back, I found heavy music to be a great escape from the every day things in life, so I became quite immersed it. I guess my relationship evolved over time as I wanted to actually be in a band and not just a fan, and I have made that a huge part of my life”.

Can you describe a pivotal moment or experience that solidified your passion for heavy metal? What was the first heavy metal song or album that blew your mind, and why? “I remember going through my step father’s record collection, and hearing Megadeth‘s Last Rites/Loved to Death off of Killing is my Business… and that sounded evil as fuck, also Slayer‘s Show No Mercy, but the first metal album I purchased of myself on cassette was …And Justice for All… but very quickly I became drawn to the darker doomier and more gothic things…”

And the rest, as they say, is history… How do you think heavy metal culture and music have influenced your identity or personal beliefs? How has heavy metal influenced your personal style, or the way you see the world? “I don’t know if I live some kind of heavy metal lifestyle, I like all kinds of music, but heavy music has affected my life; I have been playing in bands for over thirty years and it has shaped my life, my travels and many of my experiences, I think it has helped be find an international community of friends which has of course changed and shaped my life. And yes I guess I do wear a lot of black!”

Do you have any rituals or traditions related to heavy metal? “Besides worshiping Satan, not really…”

What aspects of heavy metal do you find most captivating or resonant, whether it be the music itself, the lyrics, or the community surrounding it? “Heavy, slow to mid paced dark riffs, big emotional melodies and proggy shit I sometimes need to count to work out what the hell is going on. But much like my previous answer, playing heavy music has allowed me to meet awesome people all over the world and build amazing friendships”.

How does heavy metal serve as a form of self-expression for you, either through listening to it or creating your own music? “I have made seven albums with The Eternal now, and it has always been how I express myself, I find writing lyrics and music very therapeutic and cathartic, It is how I have dealt with my feelings and expressed myself since I was a teenager, some people go to therapy, I write ten minute songs, so maybe metal has made me a little dramatic!”

Are there particular themes or messages within heavy metal that you find especially meaningful or empowering? “Songs that are more introspective I guess, more from a real place, unless it’s Dio, Dio can say whatever the fuck he wants, and I will sure as hell listen and believe him”.

In what ways do you think heavy metal contributes to broader cultural conversations or movements? “I’m not so sure in Australia, but in Europe it just seems to be a massive community and cultural movement. To some people it is a lifestyle and that is amazing, one thing about metal is that all trends and styles come and go and metal is just always there doing its thing, I love how loyal metal fans are and how they embrace this regardless of trends in more commercial society”.

What are some of the misconceptions you encounter about heavy metal fans? “That we all have swords and ride dragons. I mean there is a time and place, but I think the mass public might perceive the metal head as a meat head, but this is far from the truth, some of the most intelligent an intellectual people I have met are metal heads!”

Looking towards the future, how do you envision the role of heavy metal evolving, both for yourself personally and within the larger music landscape? Are you optimistic about what the future holds? “I will keep making music with The Eternal and keep evolving our sound and expressing myself through this medium. I think metal will just keep on its path, its not going anywhere, and I think whether it becomes more main stream or not will have little effect on the fan base, its not just music it’s a culture”.

And finally, here’s your chance to say, in one sentence, “That’s what heavy metal means to me”… “Metal is the way I have chosen to express myself and will continue to do so”.

Thanks for taking part!

The Eternal’s magnificent new album, Skinwalker, is out now – Read our review of the album HERE