Growing up, I was very sheltered from pretty much all newer music. I listened to oldies and bits of classic rock because that's what my parents played. Mushroomhead and Shadows Fall were some of my earliest forays into heavy music, and they helped enormously to shape my musical taste, though at this point I feel like I've outgrown them. That being said, you don't go from Herman's Hermits to Mushroomhead in one leap. There are more steps to the transition than that.
Before I could get into even the most pop-oriented end of the modern metal spectrum, I needed to make my way into the world of modern rock. And something had to start me down that path. I did in fact do just that. I listened to Cold, Maroon 5, Three Doors Down, Three Days Grace, Chevelle, My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte, Nickelback . . . need I go on? Pretty much any metalhead will look at that list and cringe. A few may even throw up a little bit in their mouths. Nonetheless, those bands were an important part of my musical journey, because they bridged a gap between my starting point and my destination. Even now, long after that general class of music has faded from my focus, I'll occasionally play some of those songs and get all nostalgic for the days of hanging out with my friends back in Nevada.
So the question, then, is what took me from the primordial soup of the oldies I'd known my whole life to that string of modern rock bands? Well fortunately, I have no trouble whatsoever in identifying the band, the song, or the date. The first modern rock group that ever caught my attention and got me wondering what other music might be out there was Breaking Benjamin. The first modern rock album I ever bought was their debut Saturate. And the reason I bought it was because my friends got me the first volume of the Halo 2 soundtrack for my 20th birthday. That album, which had a few "inspired by" songs in addition to the actual game music, included the Breaking Benjamin track that would spark my interest in them.
So on April 5th, 2005 I first heard the song "Blow Me Away", the pebble that would start an avalanche. This single track had, in the total scope of things, a bigger impact on my musical life than any other song before or since. My evolution into a metalhead hadn't yet begun, but in terms of my current musical universe, this was the Big Bang.