For all the ubiquity it enjoys today, our current, ‘mainstream’ iteration of progressive metal was hardly all that visible before the turn of the last decade outside of a few relatively tight internet circles. The community around it remained constrained to a few forums, as current ringleaders such as Misha Mansoor and Acle Kahney quietly uploaded bedroom recordings to relatively small audiences.
On October 16, 2010, the world lost one of its best-kept secrets. Michael “Eyedea’’ Larsen was only 28-years-old when he passed away, and there’s been an unfillable void left in music ever since. As an emcee he was one of the greats, wearing his heart on his sleeve with every bar and often giving the listener something to ponder and even some life-affirming comfort. He was loved by both his fans and peers and those who knew him bestowed him with high plaudits as both an artist and human being. Eyedea was one of the good ones. His music is introspective, philosophical, socially conscious and profoundly human. And like all great music, it’ll never be irrelevant.
When Sugar Ray released their breakthrough reggae-infused pop hit “Fly’’ in 1997, they were still very much a punk metal band for the most part. If you listen to any other song on Floored, then you’ll hear nothing else that resembles “Fly’’ in the slightest. The success of that single inspired the band to adopt the more mainstream approach they became known for after that, and while you could place all of their subsequent releases in the pop rock category, the truth is that no Sugar Ray album sounds the same. The beauty of Sugar Ray is that they were a band who just liked to make music, and even though their records catered for the masses during the height of their popularity, they were never without moments of unpredictability. However, before their rise to fame, they released Lemonade and Brownies in 1995, and it was pretty wild. A party-centric blend of funk metal, punk rock, soul and even a touch of country and western, with a front cover displaying a naked Nicole Eggert, the album is the very definition of mindless; however, it boasts such a carefree attitude and knack for memorable tunes that it’s pretty gosh darn irresistible as well.
Editor’s Note: the below fan letter was submitted to the blog by Steven Jaynes, and is being published with little to no edits. If you’re interesting in sending us your own love letters (to an album, a band, a genre, whatever), please don’t hesitate to do so at mail[at]heavyblogisheavy[dot]com! Remember, as Elbow say: “love is the original miracle”.
Man, I love Blind Guardian. I love them so much.
Jeremy Bolm and his band Touché Amoré have kept me good company lately as I’ve grappled with these questions under the red glow of cancer. Their album, Stage Four, detailing Bolm’s grieving process after his mother died of the same terrible illness afflicting my father-in-law, lives on a loop in my mind and heart now. The lyrics are honest, passionate and absolutely heartbreaking. Bolm’s incredibly vulnerable declarations of hurt, loneliness, regret and suffering are absolutely necessary and equally wonderful. I find myself comforted, listening in gentle communion, to a work of art that shares my grief brilliantly and empathetically.
Welcome to a new Heavy Blog feature! It was spawned out of one of the greatest forces on the planet: fandom. Often used for evil, the basic excitement that draws us to love something is an inherently powerful force. Here at the blog, and music journalists in general, often have to curb it in order to more accurately (we don’t believe in objectivity, in case you hadn’t noticed) and that can get hard. Love Letter is our way to vent! On this column you’ll find no nuanced analysis, no broader context or blind Lady Justice. You’ll only find someone gushing about a band, a track, an album, gear, a show, artwork or whatever else.
And the best thing? It doesn’t have to be staff members! We invite you, our readers, to submit your own Love Letters. Rules are this: send 300 words TOPS (no, really) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Love Letter” or post your letters in the comments below! We’ll go back and forth between your letters and our staff’s!