Friday, September 19, 2014

Music (re)Discovery: Delain

Product Details

Delain, Symphonic Metal from Netherlands

In truth, this is only partly a new discovery, but I'm lumping it into this category. I've known the band Delain for awhile, since my man Marco Hietala (from Tarot, Nightwish, Northern Kings, a.o.) featured on two tracks on their 2008 album April Rain. I liked them at the time, but I never really pursued getting well versed with the rest of their material. I've only recently (thanks AGAIN to Napalm Records' Female Fronted Metal playlist) stumbled back upon them and their new album, Human Contradiction. 

I've had this article pending on my list to do for a month or so (with many others... I'm lazy) but when I realized they'll be opening up for Sonata Arctica on the North American tour (which we're hitting WITH MEET THE BAND PASSES in October, not to brag) they were catapulted up the list to top priority. I can't wait to see them! Anyhow, the song that I encountered first on the playlist has a beautifully colorful video. It's a little green screeny in the end, but not so hokey that it takes away from the enjoyment. Check out the official video, Stardust:

Because my first reaction as galaxies form all around is to look thoroughly unenthused.

I salute a woman fronted a metal band without the use of vocal gimmicks like opera or death screaming--although I love those gimmicks too, they're just trending at the moment. That song isn't as heavy metal as a lot of what I have posted (and will post in the future) but it makes me very happy, even if the subject matter is a little bleak. Those colors... I do have a penchant for pretty colors... And isn't she a looker?

Anyhow, onto a song with even bleaker subject matter. This next one that I'll be sharing is about the medication industry/racket that's going strong in this day and age and it drives home its point with blunt fearlessness. Oh, and, remember how I mentioned that Marco Hietala had previously sang with them on their '08 album? He's in this one too! Give a listen to the official lyric video for Your Body is a Battleground:

"One for every monster under your bed..." That line. I love it so. Anyway, I've got places to go, people to see, things to do (other things to write, to be more honest) so I'm going to leave it with this. I hope to see more from Delain as time goes on, and I can't wait to see them a few weeks from now! Have some links!

See you folks later. For now, listen to more music!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Music Discovery: Huntress

Huntress, Heavy Metal from the U.S.A.

This is a late double feature from Napalm Records' Female Fronted Metal playlist that I mentioned so much in the past. Hailing from the underground scene of Highland Park/Los Angeles, California, these folks combine a Judas Priest like driving heavy metal with elements of thrash and amazing vocals. Full of rebellion and attitude, let me issue a warning: They are NOT for the faint of heart. Their lyrics are packed with reference to drugs and violence (and, at least in one song on Spell Eater album, something I won't repeat here and never condone the usage of) and they really could care less what you think about that, either. That being said, if you like Arch Enemy, you'll probably like this band.

First, I'd like to gush over Starbound Beast. The first song I had the privilege of hearing, Zenith, sounded amazing. Then, if you read up on the lyrics and meaning, there is actually a story hidden under all of the drug references: one about ascension into the star in the eye of the constellation Taurus. So, points for substance. Anyhow, the other thing that commands complete attention about this song is its trippy video. It'll make you feel like you're baked, but its a lot of fun at the same time:

Man, if they ever remade Attack of the 50 Foot Woman...

What'd I tell you? Trippy. I love it, though. Anyway, their sound is consistently killer throughout the whole album. There is an album sampler on Napalm Records' channel (as of posting this, anyway) if you'd like to hit that up. I am, however, moving onto their Spell Eater album, which comes before Starbound chronologically. This album features a gruffer side to front woman Jill Janus's vocals, which I love just as much. In one of the songs, Eight of Swords, she sings about the titular tarot card and prooves that she has a real understanding of its symbolism and purpose, which made me totally swoon. This song, Spell Eater, is the one I've decided to showcase:

Moral: Don't drink unlabeled fluids given out by a shady guy in the desert.

Jill Janus admitted to using her sex appeal to boost the band into the spotlight, and, as with everything else, could care less what people think about it. I think it's safe to say that most of us don't mind that one bit. A month ago, I got pretty excited when I found a Huntress song sitting in my music library from some Napalm Record sampler pack I picked up somewhere. I had it without knowing how great it was. All hail free samples!

Anyway, I can't wait to get these two albums and see where the band goes with their style next. They may be way too hardcore for some pale and frail metal nerd like me to fit in with, but I'll be damned if that'll stop me from listening to good music. Really, though, I'm pretty sure I'd get beaten up at one of their concerts.

Anyhow, links away!

Go forth, and headbang yourself silly. \,,/

Monday, September 8, 2014

Yes, No, and Neither

The Epiphany

When I was a very young child, before I'd had my first day of school or even had my first educated conversation on philosophy or finality, a thought hit me in such a frightening, powerful way that it immediately derailed everything I knew about the world. To this day, I can't explain it; I can't recall having ever overheard a conversation that would have planted the seed in my mind, whether on television or in person, and I'm certain that I hadn't lost anyone dear to me or anything likewise traumatic occurring. It was as if the revelation struck me as a bitter gem of contemplation, or perhaps as a sign from a God.

It was a sunny--or partly cloudy--day, relatively average. I was taking a bath, having just reached an age where I could be trusted to take care of my hygiene on my own. I remember being happy and calm, even playing in the water a bit. I went about getting out and using the provided towel to dry my hair, but--and this part isn't exactly clear to me--I believe I had left any clothing in my room, which was next door to the bathroom nearby down the hall. I wrapped my towel around myself and left the bathroom to remedy my lack of apparel.

Somehow, between the doors to the bathroom and my room, it felt as if Atlas dropped the sky on my shoulders. I felt a strange heavy knot in my chest and stomach, the kind of weight one feels when they realize they have made a huge, irreparable mistake. The happy memories that I had been mulling around in my head--the same ones that had brought a smile to my face--suddenly felt tragic and sad. Those happy memories were just that: images and sounds obtained by a mind grasping at scenes from the past. Those happy times were dead and gone, and all that was left was some remnant phantom to haunt the mind.

I bawled. My walking pace slowed to a crawl and I bawled as I passed my room and walked straight into the living room, no longer aware of my lack of clothes or of my own physical existence. Dad was laying on the couch when I walked into the room, and although I'm not entirely sure that my memory is clear on this, I recall him asking what was wrong in some way. He asked a few times, if I'm not mistaken, as I was unable to answer as I walked slowly toward the couch. This part is the most clear and distinct memory of that miserable experience: I reached down for a hug, and he hugged me back, all the while I was only able to say, "What about the past?"

Decoding the Message

What had my mind reeling that day still troubles me deeply, and my analysis is as bitter as it is sweet. Debunking the symptom alone would merit a simple explanation: Chronophobia. Chronophobia is the fear of time. Sometimes, this is a fear of the future and what it will bring. To others, it is a fear of vague time-related vernacular such as 'early' and 'later.' Then, you have those who are terrified by the past. The latter of those is most likely a difficult one to comprehend by those who haven't experienced it in some way, resulting in questions like, "How can you fear the past when it is done? It can no longer hurt you!"

Let me explain how Chronophobia affected me in my childhood and teenage years. Like the story above, I couldn't think about the past without getting a sickening knot in my stomach. Thinking of happy things would usually be a pleasant experience to people, or at the most, make them melancholy. Instead, these thoughts would cripple me to such a degree that I would lose all focus and awareness of what was going on around me. I would feel alone in my observations, tormented by a ghoul that only I could see. I had a happy moment, and it was wonderful when it happened, but now it's dead. It can never be experienced again in exactly that way.

It's hard to live in a world where fate has not only made you prone to nostalgia, but has permitted nostalgia an arsenal of weaponry and the right to tear your world apart for sport, but the past was not my only foe. I found myself fretting heavily if I set my gaze to the future, too. I would be playing an innocent child's video game that brought me joy, but suddenly, I would find a song among the others in its soundtrack that struck an agonizing chord of sadness in me. Suddenly, I would dwell on the far future, how everyone I loved was going to die, and that myself and everything that existed must die or deteriorate to dust at some point in its existence.  

These deep observations of the darker end of philosophy should  not occur in the head of a young child, but Chronophobia was only a manifest symptom of a deeper issue, and treating Chronophobia alone would have been of no more use than filling a cavity in a tooth that is, in fact, in need of complete extraction/root canal.  

The Phobia's Mistress

Lying under the surface of my troubled mind was and is a tragic flaw that coexists as a massive blessing: an acute, intuitive awareness. Coupled with a curious, questioning mind, this has did wonders for nourishing my mind, my talents, and my potential. However, it lead me to discovering some of the sad truths of the universe well before I should have, when I was still a timid, emotional child in a backwater town where no one could have given me the answers I desperately needed.

One of those tragic observations was that everything has an opposite to balance it and a state of non-existence. To put this into layman's terms without going into much detail, the world in my eyes was seen in three possible states. Just like matter could exist in three basic forms (solid, liquid, gas), existence itself existed in three forms: Yes, No, and Neither. 

Yes could not exist without No for an option, and the existence of the choice was impossible unless it was balanced with a possibility of having never existed at all. Why in the world is this philosophical nonsense important? Because 'Yes' and 'No' represent two opposites that cannot exist without one another. My mind obsessed over this to no end and, in everything I witnessed, I understood its immediate opposite at the same time.

When I looked at a child delightfully playing with his or her new puppy, I imagined how that child would eventually feel when that pet would die. That thought would, by relation, cause me to imagine how the child's mother would feel if her son or daughter died in that moment. I saw happiness as one great counterweight for misery, and I was haunted by the inability to see it in any other way at all.

This was one of the powerful notions that compounded within me and drew me to heavy thoughts of suicide in my teenage years. Thankfully, I came out of that years-long struggle on top and have since been able to find a way to exist in neutrality. Most people, if tasked to observe me, would more than likely find me detached and apathetic, and while I admit to being emotionally detached from things, apathy is far from the right word to apply to me. 

The Resolution

Equanimity (noun)| Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.
Example sentence: "She accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity." 
That is quoted from simply using Google to find the definition of equanimity, and the example sentence says it all. I could not live stably if I had not learned to accept things in both of its forms. When presented with a claim or presentation from a loved one, friend, acquaintance, or even a stranger, I immediately accept it as both true and not true. How? I acknowledge in my memory that this person said this thing, but it remains in my  mind  as unconfirmed until I find acceptable evidence or citation.

When looking into the past, I feel both happiness and nostalgia at once, learning to enjoy them both as the same two-faced entity. I can allow myself to get attached to people or things, as their eventual demise is worth every fraction of a second of enjoyment I get from their company. 

People call Aquarians walking bags of contradictions, and maybe they're right about most of them. Personally, though, I think it is just the inadequate cry of people who can't comprehend the seamless balance between two extremes within one person. I hold both extremes in knowing harmony, but I dedicate myself to neither. I understand pleasure and pain, but seek neither. I stand by facts as I admire theories and the unknown.

This eventual evolution, this 'coming into my own', has made the world a magnificent, beautiful place again, and it has revealed a balance and beauty all around me that I previously only saw in flights of fantasy, escapism. I lifted the sky and gave it back to the titan whose burden it is to carry it, and now I can clearly see its grace.

In other entries, I'll go over the other burdens that lead to my suicidal years and the coping mechanisms I had to employ to get through them. 

If you have any questions about me or anything I may have been through, or would like to relay a personal story to me to see if I can relate or give advice, feel free to comment here or email me at If it is a question to me, I may hit it up in a post of its own.