(Our guest Grant Skelton reviews the new album by California’s Swamp Witch.)
“This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended. It is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond; for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there arises in his soul many fears and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place. And this is the reason of the badness of this ground.”
–John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
Some metal is made to be immediately infectious. When I began my journey as a metal fan, I would describe my metal collection that way. Immediately infectious, catchy, listener-friendly, accessible. I became a metalcore junkie in high school and that lasted into my early-mid 20s. The older I get, the less time I have to listen to music than I did when I was younger. On the other hand, I find that I have an increasing desire to explore new genres. I want metal that takes me somewhere I’ve never been before. Everyone loves a memorable chorus that gets stuck in their head for days, but sometimes you don’t want just that.
Those of you who read fiction will likely be familiar with the term “suspension of disbelief.” It refers to a writer’s ability to make you forget the line between this world and that of the story you are reading. You forget truth, reality, value judgments, and the like and you plunge right into the narrative. Of course, suspension of disbelief requires some action on the part of you as the reader. But good writing invites you to suspend your disbelief without you even being aware that you’re doing it. You will participate in the story, and not merely read it. You live the events with the characters rather than just observe them. Suspension of disbelief is just as important for the most realistic murder mystery as it is for high fantasy realms of swords and sorcery. And music has something similar. A good album takes you somewhere. It tells a story that involves an introduction, a conflict, a climax, and a resolution. It can make you feel anger, grief, joy, fear, guilt, or longing. And it can do so without forcing those feelings upon you. Continue reading »