metal moving pasts

8 August 2012 § Leave a comment

Twelve hours until my next departure. The reset button has been pressed, the lever puller in me satiated. Californication seeps from the speakers into my stuff. Flea’s bass lines return from funky depths to say that I have too much. Three backpacks, a guitar bag, and a car that pleads for life daily.

All of my belongings are in a mess on the living room floor. Instead of packing, I’m removing one thing from the pile every five minutes. Whatever’s left this evening, I’ll take with me. Everything else, well.

But what of the books? And what of the music I spent hours condensing, deciding whether I’ll ever again listen to Bolt Thrower’s IVth Crusade, or Shape of Despair’s doom epic Illusion’s Play. And of the months (or years, in the case of Depresy’s A Grand Magnificence) I spent looking for such albums, through disheveled bins and shelves of mouse-hole music shops all over North America and Europe – what of those? Do I leave them all behind? Do I send them back out into the metal world for a younger version of me to glee over when he sees it for seven bucks in a pop shop whose owner has no idea what significance the creamy liquid guitar tone holds? Do I have to leave behind all of my Opeth shirts? Is that okay? Can my associations with this music evolve?

The troubles of Moving are great. I commit to them often, but usually on the premise that I can leave a box behind to return to, just in case. A packrat-turned-budget traveler, I have let go of entire hobbies to pawn shops, and given my aesthetic taste back to the Salvation Army on several occasions. There is something about metal music, however, that I didn’t detach myself from when I stopped listening to it. It might be the reason I still have the ankle-length leather trenchcoat I bought in high school with my first Arby’s paycheck (two hundred eighty-eight dollars and seventy-three cents), it might be the sensation of elitism that goes with having passionate, intimate knowledge of a subject that default culture generally doesn’t give a shit about (for religious fundamentalists may point out the Satanic elements in the music of Britney Spears as evidence of a deteriorating moral base in America, but overlook, for example, an entire genre of music calling for the eradication of all they believe in. This is not an umbrella statement for metal by any means, but you may get the idea). I don’t know what it is, but I like it.

Getting rid of metal albums is to shed adrenaline. It is to send away stimulation for feeling as if the world can be both hopeless and epic – at the same time. At times immature and stubborn, metal musicians are also activists of existence – their music reminds me that life can be as fatalist as it can be beautiful, comic, or extreme. And what better music to accompany one in the wilderness than that which was inspired by, written, and recorded in the Norwegian woods? The atmosphere emanating from Nattens Madrigal is heavy and spiritual, done by Ulver, a band whose creativity is unparalleled.

…and the disc changes. A burned CD with only a date on it, 27 January 2007, in her handwriting. The songs, some metal, others heavy arpeggios and overtures squeezed somewhere between Prokofiev and Stravinsky at a festival in England, reminisce those years with startling clarity. The drama of a certain third symphony lasted just about forever.

Some things are harder to let go of than others.

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