Hello. It was my intention to use this Missive to talk mark one year since we redesigned the blog and embarked on this new, once a month path. But, instead, Paul Masvidal shared an absolutely heart wrenching post about the death of Sean Malone, one of the most talented bass players to ever grace the nebulous spaces which surround progressive metal. In case you are, for some reason, unfamiliar, Sean Malone was Cynic‘s bassist but he also spearheaded the amazing Gordian Knot (which featured musicians such as Ron Jarzombek, Steve Hackett, John Myung, Bill Bruford, Sean Reinert, Jim Matheos, and Masvidal himself). He also had a solo project, under which he released the heart-breaking, melodious, and melancholy Cortlandt and had contributed to projects like OSI and Spastic Ink. Malone also co-wrote and published many artiocles on music theory and music cognition. Sean died on December 9 of last year. This week, Masvidal publicly announced what many people suspected: Sean Malone had taken his own life.

Masvidal described the waxing of one of his closest friends in terms that were too familiar to me. Malone had struggled with depression before, made worse by the death of his mother and of his and Masvidal’s dear friend, Sean Reinert. This depression was aggravated by COVID-19 and the isolation and hopelessness it has brought to many of us. After a frustratingly “classic” period of improvement (in the sense that it too often signifies a worsening for many victims of depression), Malone disappeared and was later found dead, at the age of fifty. To explain what we lost when Sean Malone died is impossible; it’s safe to say his voice, touch, and approach to music were absolutely unique, as is evinced by the music he left behind. His perspective on what music should be and how it should communicate were wholly his own. All you need to do is play some Gordian Knot to hear it.

My purpose with writing all of this down is double. First, I’m in mourning and, as Jewish tradition very cleverly teaches us, mourning done with others is easier to do. So I’m doing it with you; even if Malone’s death didn’t hit you as hard as it did me, you can feel my pain. Or, at least, I can imagine that you feel my pain and that makes my pain easier to handle. That pain, or mental pain in general, is also the second purpose I have for writing this. That purpose is to say loud and clear that I am not doing OK. The last few weeks have been exceptionally hard for me. The already strained mental “normal” I live with is being compounded by several factors: first, you might know that Israel is now the world’s leader in COVID cases. Our government seems intent to just rely on vaccines as some sort of magic bullet and guess what? That doesn’t work. Secondly, I’ve been working extremely hard. The details are boring but they’ve left me with an inordinate number of things to worry about and to get done. And lastly, climate change keeps accelerating. I’m effectively simply waiting for the disaster to strike where I live, be it flood, deadly heatwave, or other. I’m just waiting in the tension of the slow worsening of the world and, let me tell you, that tension doesn’t feel good.

But what’s the point here, beyond more communal mourning to ease my pain? The point here is to make you feel slightly less alone, should happenstance cause you to feel the same things. The point is to break through the pact of silence which seems to surround talking about these things (especially among men). The point is to tell you that you’re not alone and to ask you, no, to beg you, to get help if you’re feeling overwhelmed like I am. I’m getting it: I’ve been back in therapy for the last five months and it’s done me a world of good. I’m talking to my friends as often as I can. I’m taking time to take stock of myself (partially through writing stuff like this) and making sure I’m afloat. I’m talking to my partner. I’m crying and taking breaks and I plan to start back on my exercise regimen once the heat abates a bit.

Again, I’m begging you to do the same; don’t feel like you’ve got this alone or that it’s shameful to talk about these things. Reach out to people around you. Use the many resources that are out there online. And, if you feel like it would help you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me as well. You can find me at eden[at]heavyblogisheavy[dot]com. I promise you I will answer. Listen, things are not going to get easier; we are facing catastrophes which we can’t yet even conceive of. Capitalism continues to choke us and will choke us ever harder before it dies, one way or another. And, amongst it all, the burden of just being alive is still there. So, to once again echo that clever Jewish wisdom, please don’t through all of this stuff alone. Whether you believe it or not, there are people out there who love you. And if you think there aren’t, know that I love you, and I mean that. I love every single one of you reading this. First, for reading this but second, just because you’re alive and so am I and I know how hard that can be.

And there’s also music, as always. Here’s a bunch of it. I love you. Please be kind to yourself. We’ve only just begun. Rest in peace, Sean Malone. Thank you for the music.

– Eden Kupermintz

Columns

Editors’ Picks

Genre agnostic spotlights from the blog’s editorial staff, highlighting key releases from last month.

Death’s Door

All the death metal that’s fit to print from last month’s offerings. Riffs, licks, and gutturals.

Doomsday

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.

Kvlt Kolvmn

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.

Unmetal Monthly

Head on through to turn down the distortion.

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.

The Prog-nosis

Odd time signatures lie ahead! Too many notes stalk these waves! Loud synths on everything! It’s prog time, baby.

Features

A Gift to Artwork // July 2021

We’ve got a variety of cool covers to discuss today, including album art from Craven Idol, Annihilus, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Lacerate Thy Maker, and Gates of Mourning.

The Anatomy Of // Musk OX

Fresh off their new album Inheritance, we sat down with Musk Ox to find out what influences their brand of chamber folk.

*prognotes // Archspire – The Lucid Collective

Our flagship *prognotes column is back! This time, Karlo breaks down the musical and lyrical concepts behind the tight, ripping tech death on Archspire’s The Lucid Collective.

Reviews

She Said Destroy – Succession

Succession is an extremely complex, varied, and challenging album which will reward the dedicated listener with interesting ideas about progressive music, experimentation, heaviness and melancholy.

Employed to Serve – Conquering

Conquering is the complete modern metal package to me. Employed to Serve wears their influences on their sleeves while also forging the future of metal with a uniquely original sound. PLUS: EtS shares a bonus Anatomy Of column!

Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb

That’s the he real gimmick. It’s not the menacing, mystical pageantry. It’s not that initial bait and switch inflicted on the unsuspecting listener. It’s getting to sing along to your favorite karaoke-ready brit pop rock ballads with none of the guilt, because like, they’re actually grim and heavy, wink wink.

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