Photo credit: Casey Mathewson You know what I love the most about this post? You guys have literally no idea what you're about to listen to because this is Toby Driver. At this point in the man's career, there... Read More...
Literature has been one of the foremost sources of inspiration for metal lyricism and composition alike, regardless of subgenre. The list of examples is significant—Ernest Hemingway and Cobalt, Georges Bataille and Deathspell Omega, H. P. Lovecraft and seemingly everyone, and so on. Drawing inspiration from a novel is a challenging but relatively structured undertaking; a plot can be interpreted into numerous sonic and lyrical directions but will always follow the same trajectory of its narrative. Poetry contrasts this process by its very nature, as its natural code of symbolic meaning and suggestive prose necessitates musical decoding drawn from a strictly thematic place. Even poems with a decipherable narrative are often told in a verbose, indirect manner that challenges metal lyricists and composers to write with a liberated hand, looking beyond the words on the page to a deeper understanding of the poem's true meaning and mood. Agalloch's interpretation of W. B. Yeats is a stellar example of this process being executed beautifully, as is the latest offering from Ehnahre, a Boston-based avant-garde metal collective who count Kay Dot alumni among their ranks. Their incredible four-part song cycle on The Marrow captures the essence of Theodore Roethke's eponymous poem* through consuming landscapes of avant-garde death-doom that are as ridden with despair as the poet's initial musing on whether or not life is worthwhile.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
On Madonnawhore, his latest solo effort, Driver embraces this image, creating an album of touching ballads which draw on the dreamy, art rock/pop themes that have become part of his staple sound. Interspersed with plenty of medieval references, the album also seems very much aware of its origins and historical context. The result is a rich and immersive album that sees the spotlight shift towards Driver's delivery and emotional range, as befits any collection of ballads. This emotional fluency is best exemplified by "Avignon", a touching track that hits deep right at the album's beginning. Avignon itself was the city in which the Avignon Papacy was housed during the conflict between the French Crown and the Roman Papacy. It's a city, located as it is on the south of France, that evokes heady themes of citrus, faint heat, spring and also erudite resistance, schism, affluence and opulence.