Aug 082015

The Clouding by Philip Straub
“The Clouding” by Philip Straub

At least in most metal circles, I’m an old man, in years if not in spirit. That colors the way I see things. What I see, every day through this blog, are people of all ages (but mainly people young enough to be my kids) creating art. Some of them hope for glory, praise, perhaps even a career. Others, having hoped for that once, or never at all, simply do what they must — make music or explode! For those people it’s a necessity, like breathing.

Because I am of a certain age, I’ve seen a lot. Given what I’ve seen, it would be easy to be cynical about most things but I’m not, probably because life has been pretty good to me. However, I do realize that for most people, survival and personal progress in this world require calculation, sacrifice, compromise — a whole gauntlet of vicious knives that usually happen to be antithetical to art and the artistic impulse of creative people. That gauntlet cuts up a lot of artists and then grinds the remains to dust.

Seeing what the hostile reality of daily life does to many artistic people makes me sad. Knowing what the future holds for most young, artistic people makes me glum. But at the same time I’m dumbfounded by the tremendous number of creative, talented, exuberant people out there. I’m sure it has always been that way, but I’ve only truly seen it since we started this putrid blog almost 6 years ago, and now I see it every day — great rolling floods of creativity, energy, inspiration — never ending. That makes me feel like applauding.


Our species often seems like parasites on this world, a mass of mindless, destructive automatons, with no more thought or reflection than a swarm of mosquitoes, who simply suck at the veins of everything around them, fuck, and die. You don’t have to look very hard to find that. You have to look a bit harder to realize that’s only a passing cloud, even if it never completely goes away — and that behind that cloud there is light, or more accurately millions of lights. Some of them are like fireflies, burning brightly and dying quickly. Some persist. I’m talking about musicians, of course, and many other artists.

It really does amaze me. Even though I spend more time than most people listening to music, and concentrate almost entirely on only one small musical niche (extreme metal), I still barely scratch the surface — and yet I still find, almost every day, new creations that I really like. I get frustrated (and a bit down-hearted) because I don’t have the time to write about everything I like, and the rest of our writers are in the same predicament. Of course, most of the music we hear and enjoy will be discovered by appreciative fans whether we write about it or not, but it still bothers me that we can’t do more.

Talented, creative people deserve all the support they can get. They deserve applause, even if they don’t get much of it. That may not change the trajectory of their lives or their careers, but showing gratitude is just good manners, isn’t it? If you ever wonder why the hell we keep going with this blog on a purely voluntary basis, that’s a huge reason (at least, in my case).


I’m not really sure where I’m going with this Saturday morning rambling, so it’s probably best to just stop now.


And do forgive me for the Latin title of this post. Whenever you translate something into Latin, it seems more serious and important, and I need all the help I can get! Here are some more Latin phrases I came across while trying to figure out the words for “sorrow” and “praise”, along with Wikipedia notes about them. They seem at least somewhat appropriate for the preceding stream-of-consciousness.

Labor Ipse Voluptas (“The pleasure is in the work itself”) (motto of Leopold von Ranke)

Luctor Et Emergo (“I struggle and emerge”) (motto of the Dutch province of Zeeland to denote its battle against the sea)

Luceo Non Uro (“I shine, not burn”) (motto of the Highland Scots Clan Mackenzie)

Ars Gratia Artis (“art for art’s sake”) (translated into Latin from Baudelaire’s “L’art pour l’art”; motto of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Astra Inclinant, Sed Non Obligant (“The stars incline us, they do not bind us”) (refers to free will over the astrological determinism)

Audentes Fortuna Iuvat (“fortune favors the bold”) (from Virgil, Aeneid X, 284 (where the first word is in the archaic form audentis); allegedly the last words of Pliny the Elder before he left the docks at Pompeii to rescue people from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79.)

  19 Responses to “DOLOR ET LAUDEM”

  1. very good post, Islander. so many metal blogs take the lazy, easy route of negativity with click-bait posts that just attack, attack, attack. i would happily take a single post that introduces me to a great new artist over ten posts that mock and attack the same old tired targets.

    • I think it’s particularly mystifying when blogs dig up REALLY underground stuff–the music that even extreme metal enthusiasts may not have found on their own–just to shit on it. But I suppose that’s just a symptom of the larger problem, in that panning something is a way for people to feel intellectually superior and above it all. I think it’s actually more difficult to articulate why you really like something, and do so in an interesting way, than it is to find ways to slag on something..

      • What’s really infuriating is when they post a video of really young musicians who have just started their first band and are pretty rough around the edges, and they just tear it apart and make fun of it. That’s a level of cruel that just makes me see red. All musicians suck in the beginning. I’m not saying we should bullshit them with false praise, but humiliating them on a popular blog just for cheap laughs is nothing but wrong.

  2. There’s also those times when you accept content from writers young enough to be your kids 😛

  3. My take away from this is: We should support artists we like.
    Which would probably the mission statement of this site, if it had such a thing. Not a bad mission by any means.

    So, how do you say “big floppy donkey dick” in Latin?

  4. Well said; very much agree and enjoyed reading this.

  5. Thanks for this post. I, too, am probably way past the supposed expiration date for obsessing over music to the degree that I do, but you know what? It nearly always pays me back more than I invest. (And I still invest pretty heavily, in terms of $–like I said, I’m old.) There are few things easier–or lazier–than unreflective negativity. Musings like this post show me that someone is writing thoughtfully, digging deep, and I love reading it. Rock the fuck on.

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