The Link-Up Spell: Am I a metal fan with synesthesia?

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I am entering today into a dark rabbit hole, because we discuss a bit about living with probable synesthesia as a metal music listener.

While writing this piece, I must say that I had to confront some kind of weird self-discovery, so I am opening myself to scrutiny and the public eye to correct my odd self-diagnosis. I never went to a psychologist or made some kind of guided therapy, so anything in this brief chronological piece of thought is just my point of view.

Since I was a child, my imagination was very vivid, and things like drawing monsters and heroes on my notebook was the type of hobby I liked the most. Of course, video games and reading were another part of my daily child play, but even when those activities consumed my free time I was not an overly solitary kid since I enjoyed playing with other people too.

But, here is the part that does not click with the entire puzzle of my past (at least according to my extroverted Caribbean roots). Even when I did not loathe at all the company, I was most comfortable at home, alone. I wasn’t a particularly sad child, just a little bit overly reflexive and analytic.

In my first years, music was not exactly a huge part of my life, but there was something alien and attractive behind the act of devoting time to be lost in a sea of sounds.

When I reached the age of 9 (that is 97 in my Half-Elf years), my cousins and I used to lock ourselves in to listen nu metal and MTV crap, a decision that would pave the road to where I am right now (you know, writing personal crap to thousands of international internet people!). Shortly after these first juvenile listening sessions I bought a lot of pirated records in my hometown, and in a matter of weeks, my house’s Stereo was quickly overthrown by this weird narrator.

At the same time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64 dominated my imagination, offering to me an expansive and fantastic world that I explored from back to back non-stop for years. In this part, the music composed by Koji Kondo played another vital role in my final tastes with the rich expressiveness and multi-colored moods of the entire soundtrack.

I cannot remember when was the first time I stumbled more into those “What do I feel?” questionings, but even my first active listening sessions with lights out, headphones on and eyes closed just suspended me in the air. Metaphorically speaking, of course. However, the more I realized about the difference and changes between all the textures, sounds and compositions of songs, albums and genres I listened to at the time, the more I could feel that my mind worked into different sensory responses.

Metal and Synesthesia

Metal music, for me, is a paradox. Withsome bands I feel very threatened or have different kinds of feelings that I should not like, but I do. I search highly above mountains and seas for music that makes me feel “something”, whether it’s the sense of jumping from a bridge or casting the magic that surrounds me. So far, the last three years of music discoveries have been great because of that; the highly diverse albums and genres I have been listening to the most through my “Toilet years” opened my mind to new experiences, and, certainly, made me very happy.

When I entered into University studies, my musical taste went into a phase of rabid exploration that has not ended yet. For the first time, I could listen to many different albums (with my home internet connection), and I was now aware that music was, indeed, a powerful tool to expand my mind into many different places.

At that time, bands with a tight musicianship, mixed with a healthy dose of progressive touches, like Death, Cynic, Pestilence and Obscura were dancing in my playlists with melodic death metal, fusion jazz and classical. Later on, I discovered this humble blog and my tastes were opened to more extreme material, but I never renounced my melodic quest.

Through all this, no matter what I listened to, my odd sensory response to metal persisted. If I closed my eyes and really concentrated on the piece, my mind travelled into different planes. And this experience really led me to wonder if I am, in fact, a synesthetic Elf.

The main visions portrayed while listening to the music were mostly connected to flavors or colors, always represented in spheres that floated in front of me. All the responses varied with genres, albums, production and songs, but if I concentrated enough, the visions could come.

Because of this, a song like “King of Those Who Know” is a “yellow” with strawberry flavors. In contrast, Latin pop hits give me a nasty cigarette burnt flavor. A Mozart work, King Diamond‘s excellent falsetto, the Spiritual Beggars style, a Videogame OST or a neofolk track, for example, all develop different responses in my head with many varied results. And, in the end, I like them all for giving me the ‘vibes’ I seek and enjoy.

On the other side, if I find a song I do not really enjoy, that will be translated into some kind of corporeal answer. In the crowded buses of my city, I have experience severe chest pain, like an oppressive weight, when certain popular songs start to play at high volumes. Very unpleasant situations I passed through the first time I listened the György Ligeti’s famous “Requiem”, I have not touched that song in a long time because of that. Other bands, like Dissection or Pyrrhon (Sorry, sexy dude!), give me the creeps because they make me feel really nervous if I concentrate enough, but I appreciate them from time to time.

TFW the “low-level synesthesia spell” starts.

Do I really have synesthesia?

To be completely honest, I don’t really know.

I encountered the term once in a Discovery Channel documentary and, for the first time, I could express what I thought was a normal response for everyone. Then, I just forgot about it until I found an Internet article about it. As far as I can tell, my sensory responses come and go. It is not permanent. They only appear if I concentrate enough on a piece, and that demands a lot of energy.

if the writings of the Scientific American web page are to be believed, I am just probably a weirdo. According to a psychology team from Vanderbilt University, “what makes synesthesia different from drug-induced hallucinations is that synesthetic sensations are highly consistent,” but, even when my responses are repeatable, I think this quote probably does not correspond to my case (and I also do not do drugs!).

On the other side, there is some kind of “Sound-To-Color Synesthesia” that could match to my case, which can trigger a perception when the stimulus ranges from a few types of sounds. Maybe I have this one? The writing in this blog partially connects to my experience, I think.

I am aware that even though synesthesia is not listed as an abnormal state of health, there is some kind of scientific research that I cannot obviate. I even neglected the possibility for all these years to even search for the word on Google to just be at my own path, but I thought this was a good opportunity to express myself and find some answers.

So, that’s it. I led you yo the jury position. Help me find the conclusion to this. Do I have this “low-level spell” or I am just a regular freak? What do you think? What would you do with this condition? Shoot it out in the comments, and let’s discuss!


The Link-Up Spell is a weekly Toilet ov Hell column about music, movies, books, retro video games and guaranteed Elfic nonsense. If you want to contact the author to send your material, mail us at toiletovhell [at] gmail.com with the subject “The Link-Up Spell” or message him on social media.

Cover art: Composition VIII, by Wassily Kandisnki (VIA).

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