My Rant For Heavy Metal \m/

Heavy metal, or simply metal, is a misunderstood genre. While there is very little of mainstream music I admire or even listen to, metal has been a good friend through my teenage years and has followed me into adulthood. There is an element of metal music that hits home. It’s not just the loudness and the bass and distortions. There is feeling in it, the lyrics are more intense, the music conveys a far deeper meaning. It’s not noise. It’s larger than that.

I’m an 80’s child that grew up in the 90’s so I know what pop music is supposed to be and I’ve enjoyed my share of boy bands and solo artists. But most of the artists I like and songs I bobbed to were before my time. They were from the 70’s and 80’s. I couldn’t enjoy a lot of the late 90’s music because of the importance given to performance than actual singing or music. It became more about the ‘oompf’ factor. Metal, on the other hand, goes for the subtle bang. Yes, most to all metal musicians wear black and chains, have tattoos and long hair, wear leather and look creepy, are atheists or devout . But honestly, if anyone with a musical mind/ear listened to them, you’d hear more similarities to classical music than what you’d ever find in mainstream music – some genres of which I don’t even understand!! Before I get into my rant I should mention that I know my classical music too and have my favorites. From the Medieval period – RiquierPérotin; from the Renaissance – TallisOckeghemByrd; from the Baroque era – CavalliPurcellVivaldi, BachHandel; from the Classical era – Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert; from the Romantic period – LisztSchumannChopinWagner, Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Dvořák, Verdi, Brahms, Rachmaninoff.

Think song/lyrical themes; metal compositions, while paying great attention to fantastic mind-boggling riffs and delectable beats – which takes (not only displays) talent but also skill with the instrument, usually deal with politics, war, relationships, soul-searing discoveries of honesty and truth. It’s not sugar-coated. Don’t expect it to be. Yes, it’s dark. But it’s the truth about humanity. No other genre, except perhaps certain rap artists, deals with something as brutally honest as metal.

For the metal in me

Yes, the loudness of the music plays a big role in the sound of metal, but vocalists are plenty and have multi-octave ranges that are powerful as they are melodic and soul-searing. Gruff vocals – so suited to the image of machismo that this genre is supposed to be all about – death growls and clean, clear tones. Male and female singers, with a range of training, or none at all in a lot of cases, have made their mark here though a lot of them remain unknown to the general music listening population. Ronnie James Dio (my personal all time favorite – he never received musical training!), Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, three men that ushered in the operatic vocals that inspired generations of metal singers, appear on every possible list of ‘Best Singers’. There’s Lemmy, a cult icon, with his gravely voice. There’s Geoff TatePerry Farrell and Robert Plant. The women also bring on a force that ought to be reckoned with, from operatic soulful voices to the intense growls there’re Tarja TurunenSimone SimonsMaria BrinkFloor JansenSharon den AdelAngela GossowOtep Shamaya and Kittie (one of the most successful all-female metal bands). Some personal favorites include Mikael ÅkerfeldtJames HetfieldJørn LandeRoy KhanShagrathMarco HietalaTony KakkoLuca Turilli, among several others.

Metal captures the softer side of humanity too. I’ve listened to Adele and I like her smokey voice. But I’m more moved by Judas Priest‘s Angel. I’ve cried when I’ve listened to this song. Even Apocolyptica‘s Not Strong Enough has stirred something in me. For the Fallen Dream‘s Last Dying Breath isn’t soft but the lyrics get to you. Sienna Skies‘ To All Aspiring is another example.

Dio – the man who gave metal its horns

Pain is a recurring theme in metal. It’s deals with human sacrifice and suffering and the simpler aspects of life, when the loss of loved ones or disappointment tears at you from within. Metallica’s Until It Sleeps and Fixxxer are perfect enforcers of music and words woven together from the soul. Meadows of Heaven by Nightwish is a prime example of beautiful lyrics and brilliant musical arrangement – this from the same group that recorded Master Passion Greed , which is of human greed, and Phantom of the Opera.

Drummers and guitarists are as important, possibly more, as the singers since there are instrumental metal bands that have found wide spread audience too. The first names that pop into my head when one mentions drums are Lars UlrichDave LombardoVinnie PaulTomas HaakeRichard ChristyIgor CavaleraChris AdlerMartin LopezCharlie Benante… if you don’t know them, you’re not really an appreciator of music! Same goes with the guitarists – Yngwie MalmsteenDave MustaineKirk HammettSynyster GatesDimebag DarrellFredrik ThordendalRitchie BlackmoreAdrian SmithSteve HarrisScott IanSteve VaiJoe SatrianiKai HansenEddie ClarkeJesper StrombladMikael ÅkerfeldtChris PolandJames Hetfield and so many more. Again, if you call yourself a music-know-it-all and aren’t aware of these men. Well, I wash my hands off you!

All of the names I’ve mentioned above are songwriters – they listen to a wide range of music, find inspiration and belt out amazing pieces of work. The same as most people in the music industry. The difference? These guys actually play and sing live. They’re not doing it for entertainment. They don’t wear skimpy clothes and sing only about love, sex, parties and drugs – isn’t that the most constant theme of every new artist? And every viral hit?

Eddie the Head – Iron Maiden’s mascot

There’s something intensely satisfying and powerful when you hear a thousand, sometimes, tens of thousands of voices, bellowing song after song at you. A four or five person group incites passionate responses from the crowd. They’re all there for the music! Not for the themed shows that singers put on when on tour. That’s the same with classical music – it’s about the music.

I guess my point is, before you call my music trash, take a moment and consider. There’s so much more to music than just the usual thumping from a radio or the Top-40 lists. I’ve heard them too. I love Goyte‘s Somebody that I Used to Know, I admire Adele‘s Set Fire to the Rain and Imogen Heap‘s Headlock . I’ve appreciated 2Pac‘s songs and JustinTimberlake‘s transition from a nasally singer of a boy band into a mature solo artist. I’ve danced to Madonna‘s La Isla Bonita and even Diana King‘s song with Celine Dion – Treat Her Like a Lady. I’ve bobbed to Abba and Boney M and The Beach Boys. But somehow none of them stuck. On the other hand, I was taken in by Metallica’s Wherever I May RoamMegadeth‘s TrustGates of Babylon by RainbowRime of the Ancient MarinerNumber of the Beast and Run to the Hills by Iron MaidenWar Pigs and Iron Man by Black SabbathCemetary Gates by PanteraThe Bible Black by Dio and his rendition of Dream OnQueen of the Reich by QueensrycheBattle Hymn by ManowarDivine Wings of Tragedy by Symphony XPull Me Under by Dream TheaterTestament‘s Over the WallNightfall by Blind GuardianThe Scarecrow by AvantasiaOnly by AnthraxTerminus by Dark TranquilityWish I Had an Angel by Nightwish

 All of these songs, and many more, have made a difference in my musical outlook. There’s a reason I don’t like dance and hip-hop. I don’t feel like going to clubs to have my eardrums blasted by what to me are nonsensical beats that people only want to ‘get down’ to. I’d much rather go to a symphony orchestra performance and be drawn in by the intricate beauty of sounds molding together, or a metal concert and be taken over by the surging power of riffs and beats.

I will continue to appreciate all aspects of music, I always do and have. I will spend lazy Sunday afternoons listening to pop and rock from the good old 70’s and 80’s. I will put on my heavy metal tracks or my favorite classical compositions when I want to feel raw emotion. I will continue to tolerate my family listening to the Billboard Charts and nod my approval to some of them. I have my tastes and you have yours. But don’t accuse me of having no ear for music and claim what you listen to is music.

I rest my case.

My 2010 Music Round-Up

It’s been a long and exciting year, with a million different things happening. So it obviously calls for a round up. I thought I’d start off with a music round-up before the sports, books and personal one because it requires less time and thinking (and fewer arguments 😉 )

My phase this year (maybe, semester would be more appropriate) was an instrumental, progressive and melodic metal one. For most part, at least. There was also this brief spell of hard rock. I don’t intend on listing all the playlists/songs that have been playing on my pod, but here are some of the recurrent ones.

Kronos Quartet – Lux Aeterna

Clint Mansell – Requiem for a Dream

In Flames – Free Fall

In Flames – Cloud Connected

Green Carnation – The Burden Is Mine Alone

Kamelot – My Train of Thoughts

Apocalyptica – Not Strong Enough

Alter Bridge – Isolation

My Week of Sabbath – and others…

A conversation a few days back with one of my buddies back home set off this whole ‘Black Sabbath‘ phase. I’ve been listening to Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne and Rainbow. Not entire discographies, just specific songs/albums. Here’s Heaven and Hell with a favorite of mine – Bible Black.

A live version with Egypt & Children of the Sea by Dio

And of course Paranoid by Black Sabbath

*3 posts in a matter of an hour. Goes into cardiac arrest. Shock revived. Something’s wrong with me. Maybe not. I don’t care. LOL!*

Ruska

It means autumn leaves in Finnish. The beauty of which can overcome you. It marks the end of something bright and beautiful but signifies the coming of a new season. It’s heart-wrenchingly delightful.

It’s the song. Apocalyptica’s Ruska from their eponymous album. I heard it and I cried. Simply tore my heart out with the simplicity of the notes. It needs no words. It’s calming. It’s my ‘song to the ashes’ – a phrase I shall explain in subsequent posts, if I remember :P.

The fact that someone thought to use clips from the Lord of the Rings makes it all the more better!! I’m obsessed with it. Have been playing it for over a week, each time wondering how I could’ve even forgotten about this composition because I very clearly remember tears welling up in my eyes the first time I heard it!! *I believe it’s the second song in that I’ve almost teared up to… The first being My Confession* Each time I play it now, there’s some scene/incident from my some of my writings that play out in my head – each time carrying the emotion of happiness laced with sadness, between different characters on various levels of human relationships.

Also several pictures of the universe swim through my head. Yeah, the other obsession. I’m intrigued by the galaxies once again. Particularly the ‘pillars of creation‘. And pretty much all of the other nebulae, and galaxies, and everything else. I think all of that put together with this song has just taken its toll on me!! I’m not an emotional wreckage, just emotional when I listen to the song. But I love the song so much I can’t stop listening to it. Maybe I should just listen to it till I get the tears out. You know, let go, for no reason?

Because It’s Music

Apparently I can no longer keep my promise of writing every month. Darn! There’re 3 posts sitting in my drafts and I’ve made no attempt to release them from those verbal confines *because they’re all half complete* As the second round of midterms approach, and the numerous projects that hang over my head I find it difficult to sit down and write *curses* which is why I decided to at least put up some music. These are all some of those songs that I will never tire of hearing, and I will sing them even in my sleep. It’s music. It’s metal. And it’s me.

Very excited by the number of concerts happening in and around Chicago. As of this moment I have decided to go for Amon Amarth, Kamelot, Iron Maiden and the double treat of Slayer and Megadeth. More to come 🙂

Okay. So. Two songs from the gods of thrash metal, Master of Puppets and Wherever I May Roam – <following videos are from S & M>

And this song is just so absolutely lovely. Shy by Sonata Arctica.

The Heart of Everything

A person, who has actually come very close to figuring me out in recent times, just told me that I have rather conservative ideologies but have the attitude of an ultra modernist. I simply goggled at him because this was said while I was waiting for my drink to be handed to me at a rather crowded Starbucks. Naturally, I got thinking. Much later because the observation slipped my mind having had loads of other things to do than brood over something my ‘friend’ said. So I thought. And thought. And thought some more. After five minutes of utilizing my brain I declared it to be true. Yup. I do have conservative ideologies but allow my modern outlook to influence it which results in a very balanced perspective of everything. Balanced according to and for me, but out of the ordinary for many others.

So the conservative part of me. Well, I know there are certain customs and rules dictated by culture (not religion – because I don’t believe in it) and social morality that I would never dream of stepping over. It’s not due to fear of ridicule or slight but more of my own perception of these customs. Maybe I like them. Maybe I feel that it’s alright to be following them because they make sense in my chosen lifestyle. There are several others that I would love to crush under my feet, obviously. But I will stick with some of them. The modernist in me makes me question everything for want of a larger than life possibility of living, because I was encouraged to dream big. I was brought up that way. Taught to respect the old and stay in sync with the new. The way I see it, take what’s good for you and leave the rest behind, be it old or new. I’m not the only one who lives this way, I know. It’s nice to know that there are those who break away from the mold. What’s more important at that point of breakage is how much support you have – it’s definitely easier when you have a network of people watching you every step of the way. Not only does it make you feel good about yourself, but also gives you a reason to want to do things better.

I would never want to be termed as an overtly practical person since that pretty much removes the humane factor. I revel in human emotions. I feel them, I like them. I would, again, rather not face several of them and maybe wish to stay far from feeling them as well, but they’re part of us. I would settle for a balanced view. The practical one and the humanity influenced one. A test for my sense of judgment. The fact still remains, however, to each his own. To whatever extent of practicality and common sense (which may be a n overrated trait by some people) one wants to delve into is purely a matter of opinion and personal choice. No one’s perfect and it also helps to actually wonder how much you know about yourself before jumping to conclusions about others.

Me. I have my principles, as every human with a sane mind does. I just enforce them with a lot of integrity because I believe that no one knows me better than myself. I don’t expect another to do what I wouldn’t. I just live. Do my thing. My way. I’m happy with the way I’ve turned out – I do believe I’ve turned out quite okay 😛 all of the craziness put aside. Wait. That’s part of me. The insanity. The insight. The perception. It’s the heart of everything.

To go with the theme, here’s another of my favorite songs. The Heart of Everything by Within Temptation.

For the pain and the sorrow caused by my mistakes
Wont repent to a mortal whom is all to blame
Now I know I wont make it
There will be a time well get back our freedom
They cant break whats inside

I’ll face it cause its the heart of everything

Open up your eyes save yourself from fading away now, don’t let it go
Open up your eyes see what you’ve become, don’t sacrifice
Its truly the heart of everything

Stay with me now I’m facing my last solemn hour
Very soon Ill embrace you on the other side
Hear the crowd in the distance, screaming out my faith
Now their voices are fading, I can feel no more pain

Ill face it cause its the heart of everything

Open up your eyes save yourself from fading away now, don’t let it go
Open up your eyes see what you’ve become, don’t sacrifice
Its truly the heart of everything

And just because I couldn’t resist this song (and happened to listen to it on my Pandora playlist) here’s Judas Priest‘s Angel.

A Family Winter

Written on 4th January, 2010

🙂 A month since my last post, a month since I completed one semester of my graduate studies, a month since I arrived in Atlanta, and a month since I’ve found time to sit and write a post.

It would possible be easier for me to relate it in some form other than large paragraphs, so, here we go.

  • I got to have homemade food – my grandma’s an awesome cook and it was absolutely delightful to savor the taste of home.
  • I’ve been reading – Sepulchre by Kate Mosse, Sleeping with the Enemy by Nancy Price, and re-reading – Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth, Harper Lee‘s To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • Completed a thousand piece puzzle of a dolphin with my sister and brother.
  • Played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on my own and with my brother \m/
  • Watched a whole bunch of movies – Avatar (because my brother wanted to watch it; I adored the CGI but the story could have been better or shorter), Sherlock Holmes (because it’s Sherlock Holmes, loved Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr., wonderful movie), 3 Idiots (because of reviews from trusted sources, and I didn’t know it was based on the book ‘5 Point Someone‘, which I’ve never read and have no intention to),  The Proposal (again, because it’s kind of cute), Monsters Inc. (because I’ve never watched it before), Madagascar – Return 2 Africa (because I haven’t watched it), Cinderella – A Twist In Time (because the little girl in me is still around)
  • Stuck with We Don’t Need Another Hero‘ by Northern Kings, a cover of Tina Turner’s song.
  • Actually helped around the house – vacuuming, folding laundry, setting up the table, cutting vegetables… *yes, it’s new for me, doing these things*
  • Got wonderful Christmas presents 🙂 – loved the tree and the lights at home.
  • Took great delight in telling everyone that “Chicago has snow, you don’t“, “The south shuts down for an inch of snow” etc.
  • Made plans to create our family calendar and eventually forgot about it.
  • Rang in the New Year with a homemade feast (cocktail shrimp *ew – I dont’ like sea food*, double chocolate brownies, sparkling grape juice – on which my brother pretend to get high, tortilla with dip, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream, loads of icecream with sauce and favorite toppings, egg nog – because we forgot it over Christmas), fireworks and watching the peach drop.

13th January 2010

… eh… now that I think about it, I spent most of my days (and nights) out of the house, either downtown, at malls or just driving around town. And yet I seemed to have spent an equal amount of time at home… I still had a great time. I didn’t feel like leaving on Sunday. I would’ve stayed there forever… but duty called. The difficult part was saying goodbye to my grandparents – because the only possibility of me seeing them next is if I go home for summer, or they come here… or it’s going to be another year before I see them, which is sad… 😦 I’ll be back in Atlanta for the Spring break in March. Can’t wait for that 🙂 But in the mean time I’ve to work through my rather crazy schedule and work load for this semester (and this I’m saying on the second day of school!!).

Feels nice to be back in Chicago. There’s at least eight inches of pure white covering the landscape, which is a sight to absolutely admire. To look at the partly frozen river weaving through the city, and the icy lake on one side is another added bonus because of the sheer beauty of it. It’s cold *was 0 F when I landed, but felt like -6 F*, and dry and the sidewalks are kind of slushy and dirty, but it’s still beautiful. Don’t think I mentioned it before but I went ice skating – my first time – here before leaving for the break and I didn’t fall flat on my butt or on my face as I had feared. In fact, I didn’t fall at all !! I was a natural !! I skated around the rink for over an hour without ever losing my balance !! It’s made me very proud of my sense of balance – which is quite unstable when on my two feet and in sneaker, hence the feeling of accomplishment tends to be a little boastful. 😛

I’ve begun to work…I must start applying for my transfer *just an option to be closer home* and summer internships. I must also read, shop, and unpack – two suitcases of 50 lbs each beckon me.

*The philosophical part of my brain has been speaking to me a little bit… will be tending to that in a while…*

Paid In Full

Currently on my playlist, and definitely one of the best songs by the band, here’s Paid In Full by Sonata Arctica from Unia. Yes, I am taken over by the lyrics.

I was nowhere near ready when all it ended,
So I hope we could find a new day, cannot live without you

You gave me the chance, time and again in vain.
Now my feelings for you, every tear, every smile, paid in full,
Wrecked the chain, but no longer can I take the pain.

It’s hard for me to love myself right now,
I waited, hated, blamed it all on you.

Needed to be strong, yet I was always too weak.
So again only blamed myself for this state we are in.
I will take what you have for me, now it’s not too late,
Did you change? I did too. Love can grow from the last grain.

It’s hard for me to love myself right now.
I waited, hated, blamed it all on you.

I need you less and less every day,
Fix this moral decay, yet I’ve grown to love you even more.

My fault that you then turned another cheek.
You mouth the words, you’re not ready to speak.
You’re scared of me, although I never had a clue,
That I’d become so much stronger than you.

I will take what you have for me now if it’s not too late.
If you like I will leave, I will not miss the last train again.

It’s hard for me to love myself right now,
I waited, hated, blamed it all on you.
It’s hard for me to love your face right now,
I’m waiting, hating, needing, being me.

I need you less and less,
And every day leads us farther away from that moment…

It’s hard for me to hate myself right now,
Finally I’m understanding me.
One day we may have whole new me’s and you’s,
But first I need to learn to love me too.

Immediate Music

This is also my instrumental phase. Have been listening to instrumental covers of my favorite songs, and original compositions. They’re breath taking. It just proves that sometimes words are never needed. I’m just going to put up the few I heard this morning, all by Immediate Music from their album Trailerhead, will put up other links later ’cause there are so many !! But before that, I MUST put up one of my all time favorite performances. It’s the G3 concert – with John Petrucci *swoons*, Steve Vai *applauds* and, of course, Joe Satriani *^m^* – in Tokyo and the song’s called Smoke on the Water *smiles and wishes she was there*

G3 – Live at Tokyo – Smoke on the Water *I’m wondering if I did post this earlier…not sure*

Serenata Immortale

Trial of the Archangel

Lacrimosa Dominae

Fides en Lucius Dei

Metal A Cappella !!

The holiday spirit is setting in!! 🙂 Lights are up on trees, Christmas inflatables and other pretty green and red adornments are making their appearance all around, the temperature fluctuates between 5 Celsius and 10 Celsius with the promise of a snowy Thanksgiving. It’s the Christmas spirit, baby!! With Grandpa and Grandma set to be here, well in Atlanta, in less than twenty four hours, I feel a sense of satisfaction. Almost done with an entire semester of my master’s degree!! Three more to go!! I still have assignments, quizzes, presentations and finals to sit for – till the 14th of December – but I’m in the mood to refresh my carols, go to winter concerts – a cappella preferably – pull on my wonderfully warm and soft red and black coat with golden buttons on it and make snow devils 😛 *yes, none of the usual angels for me…I’m going to replicate my Lucifer – or Damien as I would also like to call him – in snow…they get to be snow twins.*

Been working for a month now, and it’s pretty cool. Not as technical as I was used to, and definitely not so stiff with the deadlines – but that was an actual company, this is the electronic resources of a law school’s library – and it’s good for me. I get to work, things that I don’t know about but always wanted to try out, I get to be around books, I have a perfect schedule, and I get paid. It fits me perfectly. I’m no longer the lazy ass I was almost becoming, I’m on my feet from 7 to 11 everyday except weekends, and I get all my tasks done. Two more weeks of that, and then I’m off on my month long holiday!! Yay!!

So, another idea of a story came to me. It’s more of a rewriting of a previous idea which I typed out and deleted when I realized that it was nothing but a reflection of a book I read sometime back…but now it has been renewed and I’ve come up with a pretty good plot for it. Let’s see how that figures.

I survived a scare of deleting data. I think I may have chronicled it, not sure – the time when I lost some of my best work because my backup DVD got corrupted, and I’d formatted my hard drive. Well this time, it was 4 years worth of emails – many rather important ones. My Gmail account. Gosh! I did something I knew was not supposed to affect the mails in my folders, but when I looked in my Inbox, it was all gone! The usage still gave me the exact figure (percentage) but the number of messages was done to a hundred! I was stupefied! I cursed, silently, to eternity! I really thought I’d lost everything because none of the mails showed up even in my Trash! *Of course I haven’t mentioned what I actually did, because that would involve revealing some details which are better off in my head than in my public blog :).* Let it just be known that it would’ve been an absolute disaster for me had I not realized that by clicking on the labels I had created for the messages I was able to view them, assuring me that I hadn’t deleted it from the server! I retrieved all of them and vowed to never again delete any message except those that were caught by the spam filter. I will not delete. Not at all. It’s not worth going through the fright again. I can’t stand it.

Oh! As far as my old/original/first novel goes, I got the perfect idea of how to make Ariel seem more like a simple human – make her hydrophobic. 🙂 Neat, huh? It’s a twist I need to put in the plot, just to make it more humane, that she’s not perfect. Yeah. The ideas are flowing.

Now I shall move on to a different post, this one dedicated to the latest novel I have managed to finish reading.

Heard this awesome cover of Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark and it’s an a cappella group. They’ve done a spectacular job of it. Definitely cannot be put on par with the original – but then who can do it as Iron Maiden does it? – but I’m truly impressed. Really. Metal and a cappella. Very very good job.

Van Canto with Fear of the Dark, an Iron Maiden’s a cappella cover