The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday February 3rd

Column: Compiling folk metal from my father

Leni Schenkel is the Assistant Copy Editor for the 2021-2022 school year.
Buy Photos Leni Schenkel is the Assistant Copy Editor for the 2021-2022 school year.

If you’re unfamiliar with bands like Nightwish, Epica and The Gathering, I would probably describe them to you as folk metal or maybe progressive rock — that is, if you could get me to admit I listened to them in the first place. 

I’m embarrassed to say that I care quite a bit what people think of me. It’s something that my father has always encouraged me to let go of. 

He was the one who introduced me to this music in the first place, starting with “Nightwish: End of an Era,” a live recording of a 2005 concert. Over the years, he would play more bands like them for me.

All had dramatic instrumentation, double bass pedals for a hammering rhythm and whole choirs as backing vocals. All were campy to the extreme, with lyrics referencing vast mythologies and several costume changes during performances. And most importantly — all were female-fronted.

Music has always been the way my father and I communicate. It is easy for my mother and I to tell each other what we’re thinking, that we care for each other. But my father is not a sappy person, and trying to draw heartfelt declarations from him is like pulling teeth. 

Instead, my father sits with me and plays his favorite bands, or, now that I live away from home, texts me songs he thinks I should hear. 

This, of course, means that he loves me.

In the first decade of my love for these groups, I wouldn’t admit to anyone that I listened to them.

They were cheesy, melodramatic and not at all popular. Moreover, they weren’t part of a genre that girls my age were supposed to like, and I was already becoming aware of the way some of the girls in my classes were ostracized for being a bit odd.

I’m happy to say I know better now. Most girls are odd, and sometimes that oddness comes in the form of being the lead singer in a folk metal band. And besides, if I don’t tell anyone about the music I like, it’s like I’m ashamed of the gifts my father gave me.

I like Nightwish so much. I like Epica and The Gathering. Blondie and Tori Amos are on this playlist too because they were instrumental (wink) in shaping the rock genre for women. I’ve put together some of my favorite songs from the women who helped shape me in the hopes that maybe they’ll bring you some joy.

I am also doing my best to ignore my nerves in doing so, because any insecurity I still have about admitting I like metal isn’t going to stop me from listening to it. 

So I might as well listen to it loudly.


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