“There are two kinds of people in the world…” That’s the preface to a thousand sentences that end in contrasts usually stated in black and white terms. Good and bad, happy and sad, fatalistic and optimistic, generous and greedy, self-centered and self-sacrificing, and on and on. But of course most people are not at either end of whatever spectrum you can think of; they’re somewhere along the continuum, and the world is rarely black and white. Except when it comes to music. When it comes to music, there really are two kinds of people in the world. More about that in a minute.
I haven’t been able to blog much lately. I spent the last three days in Los Angeles working the job that pays the bills for our humble site. Over time, I’ve spent an accumulation of days in LA that amounts to years. It’s a maddening, frustrating, upside-down place with fucked up priorities, a place where ambitions and honesty go to die. It’s also a beautiful, vibrant, immensely creative place where hopes flourish and dreams become reality. It truly is a city of angels, even if many of them are fallen. All things considered, I usually love being there, even if I love being home more.
Off and on, it rained like a motherfucker while I was there. That played hell with the traffic, which is godawful even on dry days. But during the hours between the storms, the weather was glorious, and the elevated views to the west from the place where I was working were crystal clear, all the way to the swath of blue that marked the edge of the great Pacific.
When I travel for my fucking day job, I tend to have no time to myself, day or night, which sucks, because I feel cut off from the world of metal. I wasn’t able to listen to music for more than fleeting moments before collapsing into bed late at night. Yesterday morning, I had to wake up at 3:30 am for work, and the only reward was that by 8 am I was on a rocky flight back to Seattle. When I woke up, there was a riff running through my head.
I could hear the vocals and the words in my head, too. But I couldn’t place the band! It was maddening. And precisely because I couldn’t get an exact fix on the song, it stuck with me for a big chunk of the day. This was depressing. I used to be able to recall the most arcane, minuscule, unimportant facts in a nanosecond. Now I have to use fucking Google. But this time I said “fuck Google” (that felt good!), because I remembered I had included the track in one of our annual “Most Infectious Song” lists. By browsing those lists, I found it last night at home, about 10 minutes before dragging my ass to bed rather than fall asleep sitting up.
When it comes to music, there really are two kinds of people in the world: Those who are truly passionate about it, and those for whom it’s just part of the general atmosphere of their existence not much different from the great mass of other sounds that surround them, one of many indistinguishable forms of periodic entertainment, perhaps like the background clatter in a restaurant or bar, or the conversation on a bus or subway; something that would be missed if it didn’t exist, but in the grand scheme of things, is far down on the list of their priorities.
This isn’t a test of human worth. I’m not claiming that people for whom music is a vital part of their life are better human beings than those for whom it’s not a matter of life or death (figuratively speaking). It’s just one of the many things that distinguish some people from other people. It’s certainly not unique to metal; there are fans of jazz, classical, rap, and so on, who are just as passionate about their music as we are about metal. But everyone I know who is into metal is passionate about it. And when you’re that passionate about something in your life, you make sacrifices for it. I’m wrestling with a sacrifice I may have to make for it; maybe more about that later.
Here’s that song that ran through my head all day yesterday. Kind of like Amon Amarth, if Amon Amarth were more rocking, more Lovecraftian occult, and more psychedelic. And goddamn, that main riff will not be denied. “The Cult of No Return” by Finland’s Arkhamin Kirjasto from Torches Ablaze (2012). Why this song from two years ago popped into my head, out of the tens of thousands of metal songs I’ve heard, I have no idea.
Having remembered the song and the band, I checked on what they’ve been up to lately and discovered that last summer they released a three-song EP entitled Undead Priest of Holy Trinity of Death. The songs were recorded during the Torches Ablaze sessions. Here’s the title track:
Later today and tomorrow, we’ll have some new-music roundups. But on Sunday I have to hit the road again and won’t see home for a solid week. That probably means the volume of our site’s content will be sub-par for the next week, but I do know we will have a great interview plus a couple of song premieres and companion album reviews in the early part of the week. After that, the crystal ball is cloudy.