Name: Daniel Millard
Online Alias (if applicable): The Protagonist (Old), Swordborn (New)
Position at Black Wind: Co-founder, reviewer, editor, administrator, and sack of cash
Hometown: Fergus Falls, MN, United States
What You Do In Real Life: Data analyst and data systems architect, volunteer worker for a couple of metal labels
Preferred Styles of Metal: Power (all kinds), progressive (particularly melodic prog and instrumental, clean, or ambient djent), and select heavy and melodic death
Least Favorite Styles of Metal: Black metal, most death metal, most -core (barely or non-metal) genres, wanky/jazzy prog
Favorite Non-Metal Music: Progressive rock (esp. neo-prog), British folk (Scottish/Irish/English/Welsh), romantic- and impressionist-era art music, dark ambient, some vocal ensembles, pop/punk, big band swing, certain “classic”/arena rock groups
How You Got Into Metal: For me, everything starts with Rush. My father is a lifelong fan, and I was introduced to and in love with the band from a very young age. In high school, I began to branch out a bit, and my metal gateway band (quite logically) was Dream Theater. After a few months of familiarizing myself with that band, I started using a (then) new online radio service: Pandora. While I quickly outgrew Pandora, it introduced me to power metal and launched the last decade of borderline obsessive listening.
First Metal Album: Technically, Dream Theater’s Octavarium, but I would say the pull became much stronger and more addicting when I discovered power metal through Masterplan’s Aeronautics.
Favorite albums – 5/5 on Black Wind scale:
- Blind Guardian – Nightfall In Middle Earth
- Lost Horizon – A Flame To The Ground Beneath
- Theocracy – As The World Bleeds
- Dragonland – Under The Grey Banner
- DGM – Momentum
- Angra – Rebirth
And, if we’re not talking solely metal, probably Rush’s Hemispheres, Moving Pictures, and Hold Your Fire as well.
Favorite Metal Artists: In no particular order: Angra, Silent Force, Crystal Eyes, Dragonland, Highlord, Kalmah, SuidAkra, Theocracy, Power Quest, Dark Moor, Orden Ogan, Falconer, Manticora, Dreamtale, Keldian, DGM, Voyager, Illusion Suite, Last Tribe, Wuthering Heights, Morifade, Eldritch, Thy Majestie, Dungeon/Lord, Moonville, Pharaoh, Sequester, Spellblast, Lorenguard, Anthriel, Merging Flare, Morton, Solar Fragment, Evertale
Most Overrated Metal Artist(s): Symphony X, Kamelot (to some extent), Opeth.
What metal means to you: As someone who originally went to school to be a musicologist, I have heard a great deal of different music from around the globe, and I find metal to be the best combination of honesty, intellect, and pure musical talent. It doesn’t hurt that I’m addicted to speed, distorted guitar, and the sound of men screaming. Listening to metal is both an intellectual and a spiritual pastime for me – it has helped me meet interesting new people, come to interesting social and spiritual conclusions, and provided the soundtrack to my adult life.
Why You Enjoy Reviewing: When I was first getting into metal (2005 or so), I relied very heavily upon the opinions of several reviewers who posted on the Metal Archives (most notably Hell’s Unicorn) for direction with my budding tastes. Shortly afterwards, I realized how spoiled I’d been, and how poor the industry standard was for a number of dedicated review sites and zines. After writing for a couple different sites and experiencing disorganization, a lack of objectivity, and a general apathy about actually providing good advice on music, I and my good friend Andrew co-founded Black Wind for our own thoughts on enjoyment and guidance.
I enjoy reviewing because I HATE being told to listen to certain music solely because someone ELSE likes it. That is not a strong basis for recommendation. Hence, in my reviews, you will see me recommending album to specific subsets of the metal audience. I also find putting my thoughts on an album down to be extremely gratifying. Sometimes, I almost don’t care if anyone reads my reviews because the whole process has already been so useful for me.
That said, I do enjoy recommending music to people – but in a way that follows their preferences first and foremost. There is nothing more rewarding than a reader telling me that he purchased a CD on my recommendation. It means that I’m paying it forward to the scene and making a difference.
Best Personal Encounter With A Metal Musician: This is a little embarrassing, but as I’m not much of a live music fan, I don’t have very many “encounters” that I can call to mind. I can say that I’m perfectly satisfied not to meet most musicians in person, and to appreciate them and their craft from afar. This is because all too many fans begin idolizing their heroes, forgetting how very human they really are. As I tend to idealize metal, I am reluctant to sully the wonderful images that a band paints in my head because I hear their singer uttering some insipid nonsense when drinking after a show.
That said, my brief encounter and following Facebook interactions (I don’t usually friend musicians unless I know them personally) with Matt Smith of Theocracy have probably been the best. He’s an extremely cool guy and a great human being.
Favorite Literature: Fantasy, and to a lesser extent, science fiction. Favorite settings/series include The Lord Of The Rings, The Gormenghast trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles Of Prydain, Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book Of The Fallen, many Star Wars novels from the expanded universe, particularly the Han Solo trilogy and Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy. and a number various novels and materials set in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms universe.
Favorite Film/Television Series: I barely watch anything, but I suppose Castle and old Futurama might qualify as favorite shows. For movies, I prefer the extremely slim pickings of fantasy film – the original Star Wars trilogy, The Princess Bride, and the animated versions of The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Return Of The King.
Favorite Cuisine: The spicier and saltier it is, the better. Consequently, I love Cajun and Thai food in particular, and anything with bold flavors (British food, Indian, and Mexican are also favorites).
Favorite Beer or beverage: Gulden Draak, Wells’ Banana Bread beer, Sam Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout, Newcastle Brown, Lambic (any kind), and a number of specific microbrews, specifically from Victory, Surly, Leinenkugel’s, New Belgium, Flat Earth, and 3rd Street breweries. I’m not a “beer snob”, but I’d say I’m a casual beer hobbyist.
Song that you would have played at your funeral: I feel like I should have an answer for this, but God willing, I’m not ready to go just yet.
Message to Black Wind Readers: I hope you find our recommendations useful. All I ever want this site to do is help a few metalheads discover a bunch of music that they’ll love. I would have killed for a committed prog/power ‘zine when I was just getting into the scene, and the intent for Black Wind has always been to provide exactly that. Other than that, I hope we encourage you to go see bands, buy their music, and generally feed back into the vibrancy of the scene.