You put your hand into the fire and it burns you. This is one of the first lessons we learn, whether the fire be literal or metaphorical. But here’s the thing: this lesson is incomplete. Sometimes, the fires that burn us feel damn good and are worth the burning. When you read this, you all probably had different fires spring to your mind (I’m the firestarter, twisted firestarter); whether it’s an ex, a relationship so intense that it fills you with pleasure as you’re consumed, a “bad” habit that lets you make it through another day, or an artistic passion, the examples are everywhere. Sometimes, too often perhaps, the things we need are also the fires that burn us the most deeply. I have a few such fires myself but perhaps the biggest and most intense one is music. It’s why I listen to sad music when I’m sad or angry music when I’m angry. It’s not just about “a fitting mood” but something deeper than that. A flame can be burn low and then it burns for long or it can erupt into a powerful conflagration which doesn’t last the hour.
So I listen to music to stoke my feelings, to let my emotions over-take me, to cleanse myself of them. It doesn’t really work; the problem with trying to burn out your feelings is that they have endless fuel, the lumber of your life, and they will continue to burn, regardless. So the relief is temporary and that’s fine. I get a few hours or days or, if I’m very lucky and the music is very good, weeks of relative emotional solace following a really powerful episode. I let an album overtake me and I cry or scream the words out for the world to hear or dance until I can’t dance anymore and something feels abated, sated, and cleared. The fires burn low and the embers gather at the bottom, for the moment un-stoked until a wind comes in from the outside world or the inner passages of my mind to relit them.
But, as I’ve said, they’ll invariably be relit and so the cycle of discovering new music is born. You see, just like any drug, music has diminishing returns. Sure, some albums grow better with time, as your fondness for them grows larger with each listen through. But even for those albums, something of the excitement invariably disappears. I don’t feel the same way as I did originally when I listen to something like Yes‘s “To Be Over” or Blind Guardian‘s “Noldor: Dead Winter Reigns”. Sure, those tracks still move me, sometimes incredibly so. But it’s not the bursting, impossible to contain excitement feeling of yesteryear. For that, I have new albums, new amazing tracks and sounds, new bands which set my insides to feeling like the center of the sun. And that’s what I’m always working towards and looking for, to find the next lightning strike that will set the fields of my heart ablaze, for the next album that will make me sweat with excitement.
Which is, at the end of the day, the fuel which burns behind the blog, for me and for the rest of the writers and editors. And, I suspect, for you as well, if you’re reading this blog often. Something draws you back because we’re your fellow pyromaniacs, always ready with a new flavor of matches to perhaps kindle something within you. Well, here’s August’s little fires. I hope you enjoy them. Let’s burn brightly together, shall we?
P.S. thank you so much to everyone who wrote to us with encouraging words following last month’s Missive. Your support is immensely appreciated.
Genre agnostic spotlights from the blog’s editorial staff, highlighting key releases from last month.
All the death metal that’s fit to print from last month’s offerings. Riffs, licks, and gutturals.
When you absolutely must have your music go low and slow, Doomsday is here for you. Get ready for fuzz.
Flash of the Blade
Music that is both fast, pissed off, and goes hard. Oh, and swearing. Lots of it.
The grimmest, coldest, most abrasive column there is. Only the most premium of perma-frost, from the heart of darkness itself.
Post Rock Post
Where the horizon is always just beyond the next hill and your heart can roam free. Delay pedals, crescendos, and dreams.
Rotten to the Core
Sure, you’re hardcore but are you this hardcore? The column with all the breakdowns, riffs, and gang vocals you’ll need.
Head on through to turn down the distortion.
Throw on your trench-coat, put on your favorite pair of sunglasses, and get ready to jack-in to the future in all its neon splendor.
Odd time signatures lie ahead! Too many notes stalk these waves! Loud synths on everything! It’s prog time, baby.
Into the Pit
All the thrash riffs that are fit for print.
We’ve long been watching from afar to see what Vinyl Me, Please can do, and finally decided to pull the plug.
Amenra – De Doorn
De Doorn is a bold, intense, atmosphere-drenched outing that only further cements the band’s legacy as one of the genre’s most potent void-gazers, and should be at the top of every doom, sludge, and post-metal fan’s to-listen list.
Leprous – Aphelion
Aphelion feels like a true return to form for the band which is especially impressive considering that it doesn’t return to their old sound.
Papangu – Holoceno
Through a shared penchant for sporadic, scattered aggression, Papangu have merged progressive rock, sludge, avant-garde, and stoner metal into one massive, hulking, impossible album.
Terminus – The Silent Bell Toll
The end result is exactly that energetic feeling that only pop-sludge can evoke; the end result is an album that you can’t not sing along to; the end result is an album that you can’t not headbang to. The end result is The Silent Bell Toll, one of my favorite albums of the year and one of the most moving and satisfying.
The Void Screameth
We’ve all got our pet issues, big and small, and sometimes you gotta just write it all out and digitally scream into the black void of the Internet. This is that, just written much better.