Verbal warfare through radical ideals

Posts tagged “life

Great Big White World

Happy 2014, children.

While I constantly receive the urge to write, I admit that over the past year I have grown so critical of my own work that I refuse to hit “publish” until I am absolutely sure it’s perfect. Then, once I am satisfied and have pressed the button I enter a panicked frenzy where I’m caught second-guessing every other line, and quotation as sounding too cliché or simply idiotic. It’s a new year though, so I should probably resolve to stop doing that.

…Or are resolutions too cliché?

The good news is that I haven’t run short on things to observe in my mundane existence, and I still feel obligated to throw war-paint all over them in order to get my point across. I should hit pretty close to home for some of you today, and I’d like to think there are many people who are not only familiar with this epidemic, but loathe it to the extent that I do.

Life as we know it is a never-ending grind through monotonous tasks, plastered smiles, and fleeting climaxes all gift-wrapped as the “experience of a lifetime“. We’re all stuck together in a system that dances circles like the hands on a clock, and much like the clock you can go insane from taking too hard of a look at it. That moment turns into an excruciatingly cruel reminder of why it is that people take vacations, and why therapists exist. However, for that unlucky crowd of isolated units who don’t have their own handful of happiness, or a vice to drown out that emptiness-  life is just their own personal tale as Sisyphus.

It’s one thing to be able to look at the world around you from an emotional gutter. The world seems like a utopia that you’re barred from, where you’re forced to face a sea of pairs, being carried effortlessly upwards towards some golden skyline. It’s an entirely different issue altogether to turn towards your small corner of the world, and view one of your own throwing happiness at you like a trophy.

The first world we inhabit is not a cooperative community, where we strive to flourish as a whole and better ourselves. It’s not even a large raft where we’re all fighting for survival in a chaotic sea while trying to keep each other afloat. Our world has become a vast ocean where millions of tiny islands dot the surface mere inches from one another. It’s a lonely grid where everyone is close enough to reach out and touch each other, but tragically lack the companionship and altruism required to bring others closer to them.

As an adult, you’re forced to confront the fact no one is there to help you. You’re on your own, and people feel the need to consistently remind you of this. Upon leaving high-school, an image is drilled into your head of what you have to earn. It’s a terrible, uninspiring image that few should ever consider. The “American Dream“, a picture so grim that Philip K. Dick made it a tragedy in all of its banal glory in A Scanner Darkly. In retrospect, my entire childhood was based around a loosely translated panorama of the 1950’s where the perfect family unit sits together watching their first color TV and dreaming of a world where technology makes all their fantasies come to life.

The reality could be no further from the truth. My ever-shrinking list of family and friends have turned into a social-media propaganda squad, whose only apparent mission is to rise higher than the rest of their peers. This sad portrait is repeated daily like a chore, where they exchange hollow pleasantries momentarily before unfurling a new list of pseudo-achievements to gloat over. When they exhaust their reserve of words for their success, they quickly switch to a bulky slideshow of recently recorded personal victories, as they cluster together with acquaintances and strangers to paste a smile on and show off the exotic places and strange attractions they’ve visited. It’s a cruel injustice to this amazing planet that we live on, that we’ve become so obsessed with capturing the perfect moments on camera that we’ve completely neglected to take part in, or savior them.

I no longer crave the loud, and crowded parties where seemingly popular people gather to have the time of their lives. I care not for the three-piece suit and the slick appearance of being a hotshot in a trade with no character and no mind of my own. I can’t picture the group of friends locked shoulder-to-shoulder in brotherly and sisterly affection. I don’t buy the millions of photos depicting happy couples locked in a tender kiss. I don’t believe that anyone who engages in this ritualistic, digital sadomasochism ever receives the pleasure they seek from it.

Our world will share a common regret when everyone stops competing for who can look the prettiest for the longest amount of time. I sincerely hope that someday soon people begin trying to write their story in ink, and stop standing still in the hopes that someone will paint it for the ages to gawk at and admire. You should not be impressed by those around you who actively seek to set a “life-example” for you to follow. As young as I am, I’ve come to realize that life is much less of a hassle when you don’t take it too seriously.

It’s also a lot less cruel when you stop wishing to appear happy, and actually start being happy.

Because it’s a great big white world
And we are drained of our colors
We used to love ourselves,
We used to love one another

-Jake


None Becoming

There are many tales of tragedy and woe, but none I know quite as well as the tale of my gaming community.

The tragedy of my clan is not of the sort where death and painful misfortune strike incessantly, eventually bringing the protagonist(s) down to a point of inconsolable misery. It’s not of the hero who marches onward towards their demise, knowing that glory and certain defeat await them. This story revolves around a self-inflicted wound, and the irreparable damage caused by the inaction of many.

Though it has decayed into the city of Terminus, The Sic originally was a flourishing haven for the weary soul; those who had been out in the purgatory of the average gaming group, and had experienced for themselves the lackluster attitude of those whose entire frame of reference was built around statistics, and dull number values. They came to us with the hope of belonging. We gave to them a purpose, and a potential to thrive so long as they were willing to commit to the cause. This presented people with a unique opportunity to actively become social with others from our legion, and work together to accomplish goals thought unobtainable by most others. For a time, we not only proved this true; we set the bar for other groups to follow in suit.

Despite the greatest efforts to keep a sense of stability within our walls, the group has collapsed on itself. The reason? One could make the argument that we no longer had anything left to offer people, and people have attempted pushing that story. That however, is only a half-truth. Another tale woven is that we’ve switched theater of operation too often. Notable, but also false considering it was the only aspect that allowed us to retain a large base of operations for each game we entered into. The actual reason is hilariously simple, and in retrospect I lose my mind thinking about the one word its anthology of examples demonstrates:

Sloth.

An infuriating pattern has emerged over the past couple of years, that has slowly killed off the remainder of my team. While I believed they all fully understood the necessary actions that are required to maintain the status quo of the clan, I no longer believe this to factor into their decision-making abilities. There are only a few facets that require attention from high-ranking officers within the group. The first, is a reasonable rate of activity. This is simply a reassurance for the sake of your members. The second action, is organization. Whether we’re talking members and ranks, game branches and items, or website users and backgrounds, people take a person seriously who can at least be counted on to have a checklist completed by the end of the day. The last action, is of course, recruiting. Without getting people in the door, your gaming clan is doomed to fail.

Therein lies the issue. If you have a gaming clan who isn’t willing to recruit, organize the assets or follow the protocol of the clan, let alone show up at all, then you’re better off throwing in the towel. That’s not a team-effort; it’s a sign that they’re digging your grave.

Allow me to explain what it takes to keep an organization that you care about running. Whether that is keeping your business afloat, trying to promote a cause that you believe is worthy of public attention, or even something as trivial as a gaming clan- this rule still applies. You can’t half-ass your endeavors of any size, and you can’t just sit idly by and hope someone else will do your job for you. If you want a task completed (especially a large one, mind you), it takes more than just what you can offer “when you have time”.

It takes SACRIFICE.

During my eight years managing The Sic, I’ve learned the hard way a dozen times that you have to give up quite a few things that you normally wouldn’t if you want to succeed, and in the process I may have given up a couple of things I probably shouldn’t have. For the sake of continuity, I’ve skipped countless amounts of social engagements that friends had invited me to, as well as a handful of events that these people considered important. I’ve let go of multiple opportunities to network for my career in a new environment, with new people under new circumstances. I’ve willingly buried a fairly successful relationship, and almost another that was my final straw before I finally took my leave. All this I did for the “greater good”, but in reality it was out of a vain sense of responsibility, resting on a mantle that I alone did not have to carry. Only now do I come to accept the sad truth that perhaps I had a misplaced sense of trust, because I presumed others cared as much about our survival as I did.

I know now that people don’t want to sacrifice. They claim they have no time, and conjure outlandish narratives to make it seem as if there is nothing more they could do to show their faces than what they already are. They present apologies, and deflect when presented with inquiry, all while shielding a surreptitious agenda. Most insulting of all is this facade that I’ve never seen end; this cruel world in which no one can just inform me that they’re finished, and that it’s best to simply mark their journey as completed. I have learned my lesson, and thus have played Captain for the last time. If people understand that you’re willing to take the helm even when they’re not there, they feel no remorse about abandoning their posts. It’s the insecurity of not being able to step up and take the wheel when another crew member falls. It’s the shame of calling others your friends, just to leave them to their devices when the obstacles become to great to climb, and it’s the cowardice of not being able to face them, as you run away from your shared problems and pretend you’re too busy to notice the flaming hulk of the ship you’re escaping.

I never left the helm of my ship. I might’ve stepped aside, and even sat back to observe others as they tried their hand at steering, but when the lifeboats were all gone and the crew was sailing furiously into the darkness of the night, I somehow still managed to find myself clutching onto a burning bridge. Much as you start with nothing in the field of leadership, so do you end with nothing.

The dust has settled in
The broken structure
Is now one with
This shattered beauty
In timeless indifference
Become one, become none

-Jake

 

 


The Silence In Between

As I place my hands on the smooth oak surface of the desk, I lean forward within close proximity of the microphone. The unpleasant humming of the dead-air through my headphones reminds me that people are listening to nothing. This is my opportunity, and I’ve yet to speak. The question, so piercing and rhetorical in structure that up until my awkward moment of clarity, I had all but dismissed it. My comfort level quickly fading, I turned towards my familiar soundboard to start a new musical track, but no images were detected. The brightly-lit LED monitor was now dead; what remained was an inconvenient herald that I should no longer evade inquiry.

My chair swiveled in place, and I heard the echoing voice repeat its question. The accusatory tone of the faceless female brought red to my face as she delivered her query.

“What is wrong with you?”

I laugh it off nervously, and respond with a defensive form of sarcasm.

“A lot of things are wrong with me. I’m hungry, for one. I feel slightly sexually deprived, and I don’t have enough happy-thoughts in my life. Does that answer your question?”

I’m met only by the cold, isolating static from the opposite end of the call. Believing her to be annoyed, I crack a grin and return to the mic.

“Well, I guess that wasn’t what you were looking for, was it?” I ask smugly while spinning in my chair. I attempt to provoke a response from her.

“For asking such a broad question, you sure don’t sound as if you want it answered! I mean, come on. You want to know what is “wrong” with me? Well, assuming that your standards are as ridiculous as I think they are; I think I know exactly what is wrong with me, by your definition.

1) I use too much profanity.

2) I take a perspective that is a bit too realistic for your taste.

3) I undoubtedly speak on topics that offend you quite often.

Last but not least, I’m more than certain that you’re one of the self-righteous lunatics who thinks if people don’t live by your definition of morality, then they must fall under some lesser category of human. Did I get that right, sweetheart?”

I lean back against the black leather of my chair, and wait for the tears to flow. However, much to my surprise and dismay- I still have no audience. White noise feeds into the tiny pentagonal room, causing me a relative sense of uneasiness. My frustration mounting, I scoot forward in my chair, ever closer to cold silver of the studio microphone. I don’t feel like a wonderful personality anymore, though. The mic turns into a shiny metallic betrayal-receiver that awaits my every word and action. I’m not having a good time, and as much as I wish for her not to know that, I won’t be able to control my tone on the air as well as I should hope. I fold my left leg over the top of my right knee, and take a moment to steady my thoughts. Did she hang up? Is the communication so terrible, that she believes she is talking to me right now, and I just can’t hear her? Is she deliberately holding out for some type of profound answer that isn’t coming? Whatever the reason, it’s up to me to bring this silly charade to a close.

“Look, I don’t really know what sort of social-experiment you’re attempting to complete here, but I do know that I’ve answered your idiotic question to the best of my abilities. If you can’t handle that, then it’s not my problem. Besides, if you don’t like me then you shouldn’t be tuning into my station in the first place. You do realize you have the illusion of freedom at your disposal, don’t you? I highly recommend you try it sometime. The way it works is:

You don’t listen to my broadcast.

I don’t say things that make you call-in.

You don’t ask me stupid things.

We don’t get in this awkward position we’re in right now.

Now, isn’t that much faster than spending hours trying to think of something potentially intriguing to ask me? Now you can leave, and I can get back to what I was doing!”

Satisfied, I leaned onto the left armrest, resting my cheek inside my left palm. I didn’t want to hear her response. I just wanted the person screening my calls (whoever they were), to do their job and get rid of the little mouse. She had grown beyond the point of humorous; my patience was draining quickly and the only thing I could think of to give me some peace was the fact I still had the power to cut her off. It seemed though, that regardless of what I wanted to do, I would be forced to endure another long, dramatic pause. As if the static wasn’t bad enough, now I was having an internal revolution. The lady had brought this on herself. If she wanted an actual answer to her question, she was going to get it.

I quickly vaulted from the seat of the chair, and kicked it to the back wall. As I leaned forward, I could hear the thump as the rolling stopped suddenly against the soundproof wall. I clutched the base of the microphone, shifting it upwards so I wouldn’t have to be stuck in such an uncomfortable position while on my tirade. I gripped it like a vocalist at a heavy metal concert, wanting to vent all my rage out on my aggressor. As innocuous as the original question had been phrased, I now took it as a personal attack on my character. An anonymous ad hominem of astronomical proportions that I would not tolerate from some whiny, spineless female with a phone.

“Well, Ms. moral-compass…I don’t exactly know what is wrong with me. I can give you a handy list though, so that you can draw it up on a fine piece of paper, laminate it, and distribute it to the one friend you do fucking have! Let’s start here. I am stuck living in some twilight reality that I’ve gone and expunged all optimistic views I had about the world around me. I don’t like the people in it, because I view the majority of them as a swarming mass of pseudo-moral loving troglodytes who are pining away for some world of lore that only the mind of Huxley could’ve conjured. I don’t want to anesthetize myself to things around me, because it’s a lot more enjoyable to be depressed that most of the things I don’t like about my setting are obstacles I can’t change from my end. My only useful skill that I’ve used in the past five years has on some level made use of continuous self-loathing, and everything else I can do somehow never seems to quite live up to a standard I view as acceptable. I want to be social and the moment I step out to do it, I remember exactly why isolation was my only choice from the start. I can’t take any pertinent actions that I’m happy with, because if it has to do with something that matters I’m stuck in a suspended form of self-doubt, where I don’t want to take a risk if I know it could fail. Everything seems like a doomsday clock that is growing ever closer to a point where I break, but it never quite seems to get close enough to strike midnight.

…But you know what’s really wrong with me, lady? I don’t like you. I don’t like having to listen to the sound of my own voice, and I don’t like me. I’m done.”

I slid my headphones off, and shoved the microphone so hard the opposite direction the shock-stand vibrated in place. I put my back against the opposite wall, and edged down to have a seat. I put my head between my knees, and watched the studio lights dim as the static faded.

Then I woke up.

-Jake


Heavy Metal

Greetings, children.

While I may be the writer that you all know me as, and I may dabble from time to time in the realm of philosophy, I’m undoubtedly sure that most of you know me as a die-hard Heavy Metal fan. I’m sure this comes to no surprise for most, as the vast majority of my posts are lovingly titled in homage to a metal tune of some sort. I quote lyrics daily to strangers on social media, and in my gaming community alike. I’m constantly whistling or singing along to a new song that has become stuck in my mind. (I probably cycle anywhere between 10 and 20 songs on any given day)

Needless to say, I love Heavy Metal.

Despite how much adoration I have for the genre that carried me through my adolescence, and continues to do so today, all is not well in paradise. Metal has sustained a wound that refuses to close, and though many people would view it as a form of diversity, they’re only ignoring a continuous problem that Metal faces every year. The growing catalog of ridiculously unnecessary sub-genres has become a problem that not only forces people into senseless debates over the interpretation, and appropriate titling of bands; it dilutes the entire genre of Heavy Metal.

Assuming that what I’ve proposed to do here is indeed, “dissect various sub-genres of metal and effectively reassign them to an appropriate new blanket-genre”, I should undoubtedly go over a few of the classes of metal that need to stay, since there are so many good ones that cover the broad spectrum of the shredder’s rainbow.

  • Heavy Metal- It’s fair to say it’s not going anywhere. The widely accepted definition is the first, and it shall remain. This is what we shall base the origin of Metal with: “With roots in blues-rock and psychedelic-rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness.”
  • Thrash Metal- Its spot is safe. In order to slim down thrash, we would have to completely toss out speed-metal, and forget about Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, and Pantera. It’s not happening.
  • Death Metal- Easily the most broad definition in all of this genre’s history. Death could use slimming, but it’s so broad, I almost view it as an impossibility. One could also make the assertion that the benefits of Death’s creation significantly outweigh the negatives.
  • Black Metal- This sub-genre gave rise to some of the most powerful, and well-known names in the business. To get rid of Black would be a disgrace to the progressive styles of our European friends. It stays.
  • Power Metal- One could argue that Power has been slowly deteriorating over the years, but I’d like to believe that it has only become broader in definition. Power Metal has always been uplifting, and goes through various stages of harmonic glory that one can’t simply discard.
  • Doom- This genre, I will discuss later. Yes, it will be dissected. Not for the purpose you think, though. Doom stays, because it is the closest we have to the origin of metal. It’s also going to receive top-honors in the end, as we trim a bit of fat off of its name and dispose of the extras that are riding along behind it.
  • Nü Metal- While I understand it is indeed a hodgepodge of both good and bad ideas, Nü has brought forth some of the greatest groups of the late 90’s, and early 2,000’s. It would be a tragedy to throw out some of the finer elements of Korn, Slipknot, Disturbed, Godsmack, Otep, early Linkin Park, and even Coal Chamber. For the sake of history, Nü-Metal will retain its spot.
  • Industrial- I couldn’t rightfully get away with losing Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Kidneythieves, Combichrist, or Nine Inch Nails simply out of convenience. No, they will keep their spot because industrial as a whole has grown stronger in the world of metal, and I like it right where it’s at. Necessary only to the beat and to the constant remixing and blank-filling that it allows in metal.

These are the groups that are staying. Now that you’re all happy that I’ve kept your favorites, it’s time to break out my wood-chipper to shred some useless garbage, as well as the clay to sculpt a few new genres that should stand in the place of numerous others. I’m fully aware that makes me sound like a bit of a hypocrite, but I’m willing to take that risk if you’ll let me attempt to convince you.

Metalcore- Since this sub-genre alone is arguably responsible for over 60% of the atrocities that have been committed in the name of Heavy Metal, I’m going to start here.  While Sepultura and Pantera have been credited for giving birth to this monster, you may rest easy knowing that may not be entirely true. While Sepultura has implemented various rhythmic changes in their albums, as well as quite possibly bringing the infamous “breakdown” to life, they are assuredly a thrash metal group, and will remain as such. It also would be a tragedy to pry Pantera from their home of thrash, so I will not offend them.

What follows is a list of the multitudinous absurdities that have been combined in triple-hyphenated fashion in order to justify the creation of a Metalcore group:

<Please note that while I respect Melodeath, Math, Viking, Medieval, Industrial, Progressive, and Deathcore, they will also be used as a reference for the point of bringing light to the issue>

Funk, Groove, Stoner, Neo-Classical, Math, Death, Nintendo, Post-metal, Folk, Djent, Symphonic, crossover, Teutonic, classic, sludge, Prog, Power-prog, Glam, crab, Pirate, Wizard, Viking, extreme, hardcore, punk, Latin, Industrial, Death ‘n’ roll, grind, goregrind, Celtic, Pagan, Christian, avant-garde, experimental, break, drone, gothic, anarcho, crustpunk, unblack, Dark, Cello, Rap, trance, dub, psychedelic, NSBM (National-Socialist-Black-Metal), WP (White Pride), Screamo, crunk, Electronicore, Mall, Satanic, and yes… Anal Distortion.

Every single one of these have been used at one time or another to describe a band, sub-sub-sub-genre, or an album. My head spins just thinking about how much psychological-conditioning it takes for one not to bash their face into a wall at the sight of a band who uses three hyphens to describe what type of music they play. Virtually all of the list above can be tossed out, with the exception of the fundamental names I have already listed as necessities of the original genre itself.

Why? Why would I go and throw out a gigantic wall of sub-subs that might very well hold relevance and beauty to Heavy Metal if put to the test? Because, they already exist and are well-known elements of bands, and songs that we all remember so fondly. I can name thirty bands off the top of my head who use Neo-Classical riffs, and folk instruments on a nearly daily basis. You know what they have in common? None of them would sell their dignity in order to cling to the idea that they’re “Neo-classical-Celtic-Stoner-Prog-Metal”. That bullshit has to go, which is why I’ve just done it for you. It’s gone. Good riddance.

Now, don’t fear for the future of Core. Core is also going to retain its spot, regardless of the plethora of filth that seems to never get wiped off its boots. Metalcore is widely-regarded as one of the best things to come out of Metal, and I can’t say I’m inclined to disagree. It wouldn’t be the same without Trivium, Unearth, Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, Atreyu, Soilwork, or Diecast. Yes, Core has a bright future so long as it holds on tight to the basics that make that genre so good. What drags it down is when they allow a disgusting mix of undisciplined sounds to diffuse the power of what we all know already works. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for progressive sound. It’s one of the best things about metal, is allowing bands to experiment and create new tunes with odd time-signatures, untapped instruments, and mixing that brings a new perspective to the genre. What I don’t like, is when five dipshits under the age 0f 21 all grab a fender and play half-ass slow riffs, call it a “breakdown”, use a drum-machine in place of an actual drummer, trade-off who gets to play keyboard, and then auto-tune the vocalist so people don’t know they sound like garbage. You may be laughing right now, but if you have seen as much destruction to the beauty of metal as I have, you would know it happens alarmingly often. It would seem record labels have lowered their standards, and are now paying these children to make a quick buck, just so they can toss them out next year and churn the mixture to produce another terrible band with the same sound, and new members. Let this be your only warning, Metalcore fans. If you don’t stand by what Core originally was, it’s cursed to become something you won’t recognize.

I know at this point, some of you might feel I’m just another purity-obsessed Metal-head who can’t stand new bands joining because it takes attention away from older ones. I’m here to dispel that notion, right now. If that was the case, I would also have to throw out almost every band after 1990, which I don’t intend to do by a long shot. New metal is great, and I love hearing it. What I don’t like, are pretentious children who think they know better than those who came before them, and want to implement the most bizarre styles to a genre that is just fine so long as you’re decent at musical composition, and you can fret/drum/sing/growl/scream with the best of them. I’m even willing to allow the repetition and lack of vocabulary if it sounds like you put some time into it. Ozzy Osbourne, a man who was practically illiterate after leaving school– helped form Black Sabbath and his own solo group while crafting some of the most-praised lyrics of all time. It takes a creative genius to be good in metal, and I grant anyone that can master it my undying loyalty.

Lastly, I want to dissect a range of sub-genres that I have come to love, but I feel that they should be adopted into a broader genre that I have created for them. The sub-genres of Doom, Stoner, Psychedelic, Classic, and Neo-Classical all are redundant and and overlap each other in multiple spots. While Doom stands on its own two legs, many people don’t understand what entails being a Doom group, and will therefore lump many bands that don’t belong there simply out of convenience. I’ve never heard a song from The Sword, or Baroness that should be classified as Doom. Katatonia, who is one of the main groups that come to mind when Doom is mentioned, is capable of so many varied genres that to limit them simply to Doom is almost restraining. There are also, of course, bands such as Black Pyramid and Dawnbringer, who are known for incorporating the finest elements of the classic Metal sound, as well as strong waves of Medieval riffing, alongside a generous helping of Neo-Classical harmonics. They also, are somehow inhabitants of Doom, and yet they don’t fit the description. I also wish to rid the world of the idea of “stoner”, metal. I find it to be an insulting term that clearly implies that the music is designed to pander to those who are lovers of weed (alongside copious amounts of droning,  reverberating guitar chords as well as psychedelic echoes, of course). It adds no substance to the band itself; instead it promotes the band as being limited to a certain demographic, and I would think that would annoy the group more than anything else. Because of all these reasons, it has has led me to believe that we need one blanket genre to support bands that don’t quite fit in with any of ‘em.

This genre is dedicated entirely to the idea of retaining the classic sound of Heavy Metal, as well as promoting the folk instruments, Neo-classical sound, and the rich tri-tone of classic metal groups. At first, I couldn’t decide what to call it. I wanted it to revolve around the idea of the band that best represents the origin of Metal: Black Sabbath.

Seeing as how “Black Metal” is taken though, I’ve had to resort to a much more technical idea. The name of this genre is indicative of everything you would hear from the fundamentals of classic metal albums; single solos that stretch over a minute, simple distortion, and the loud studio sound that you would expect from such a powerhouse group. When people hear of Sabbath now, they recognize them for the classics they put out. It is seemingly everyone’s first encounter with metal, and for this reason I have concluded that there can only be one title for this genre:

Primary Metal

This genre perfectly describes all of the elements of why it is necessary to keep them separate from their brothers and sisters. They seek to establish a classic mindset to new sounds. It’s the best of both worlds, in one broad package. You don’t even have to tread on the feet of other bands to do it. Candlemass is perfectly content being the grandfather of Doom. The Sword however, fits quite nicely as the head of this brave new world of metal; a realm that recognizes and reveres the sound put out by bands such as Sabbath, Maiden, Pentagram, Motorhead, and Judas Priest. They don’t want to mimic it; they want to enhance it.

I hope some of you will take away a fresh understanding of the genres of metal. I know some people will want to remain neutral and keep to the idea of, “It’s musical taste! Who are you to say what should and should not be?”, and that’s absolutely fair. However, I only want to help grow the idea of metal, and in order for newer, better bands to grow out of sub-genres to spawn their own ideas of the genre, sometimes you have to shave off some of the trash that is trailing around behind them. These quadruple sub-genres only limit the image that bands can have for themselves, and it gives idiots a very narrow view of what Heavy Metal is from the perspective of an outsider. This genre is so much more than most people can imagine, and if people can unite under as few banners as possible, Metal can once again overcome the non-stop drivel of horrible, anti-intellectual music that pollutes the minds of people everywhere.

It’s your one way ticket to midnight
Call it Heavy Metal
Higher than high, feelin’ just right
Call it Heavy Metal
Desperation on a red line
Call it Heavy Metal noise

-Jake


An Alternative To Freedom

In our ever-changing world of social acceptance, we’ve come to see shifts in attitude towards everything from ethnicity, to sexuality.

While these issues were seemingly simple hurdles to conquer for a society built upon innovation and progress, our species has proven time, and time again that we lack the will and cooperation to change worldviews at a reasonable pace. The difficulties that come with being part of a minority are sobering, and the threat of being demonized by your peers can be a grim reality for those unlucky souls in the wrong community.

The minority I’m speaking of, however, has nothing to do with the color of your skin, or your sexual orientation. Today, I’m here to discuss the last notable group to be outnumbered, but not yet exhausted of their will to fight socioeconomic trends:

ATHEISTS.

That’s right. The one group on the planet who should reasonably not be threatening to anyone, is evidently last on the list of people who can share their beliefs (or lack thereof), in public.

While I usually would tend to drift off into a rant regarding religion, that’s not my aim here. Today, I want to ask the faith-based people who represent the majority of our small planet to briefly consider the possibility that humans are perfectly capable of leading morally-acceptable lives without having a god to call their own. While I understand that this sentiment is usually met with stiff opposition, I implore my religious and spiritual readers to at least suppress their urge to close out this page for a few minutes.

We’re not that different.

How can I compare myself to you? It’s simple. We’re all atheists when it comes to Thor, (I hope) and we all grasp what a silly idea it is to believe in the god of thunder, even if he does make for an interesting story. I can go as far as to say that we’re both atheists on the majority of the gods on planet Earth today. If you don’t believe me, allow yourself a moment to consider how many religions there are in the world. Think of all the organized, well-known religious denominations, as well as the lesser known tribal religions. Many of these have countless numbers of followers, such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism (although technically it’s not a religion). From the perspective of an atheist, I understand that all of these people can’t possibly be insane, and that it must have an internal value to believe in god’s existence. That means that there are some rational people who choose to believe in god because they feel it brings purpose, and meaning to their lives. From the viewpoint of a devoutly religious individual, however, they have the misfortune of being able to only see the purpose of existence through the pages of their sacred text. This is to be expected, as one raised with such a tradition would naturally be inclined to revere, cherish, and cling to what brings them peace and understanding of the world around them.

atheists

As an atheist, I don’t have a sacred book to guide my life. I don’t have lessons through scripture, or the looming threat of punishment in the afterlife. That doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person, immoral, worship Satan, or that I eat children. It means that I have to appropriately measure all of my decisions in life so that I cause the least amount of damage. I don’t go out and kill people, or cause them bodily harm for no reason. I don’t steal from other people, since I have no right to the property of others. I don’t rape women, because that is a cruel, sick, and vicious way to treat them or obtain sexual release. None of these fundamental rules require a background in religion. That’s because morality exists without it, and is a more than conventional way for someone to live their life.

I don’t require prayers to obtain things in life. If you’ve ever spent a long time accomplishing a goal, whether that be studying for a test, working towards a promotion at your job, or something as simple as writing a new post for your blog, you grasp how much discipline, and determination it takes to achieve such things. Atheists have those same goals, and accomplish them every single day without so much as a thought about a divine being. How can this be, if you are a creature of god and have been granted blessings in your life that a non-believer shouldn’t? This is because prayer, however useful and righteous it seems, does little in the real world to further any cause. Yes, it will grant you a fleeting sensation of contentment, but in the end the probability of your prayer being answered is the same as flipping a coin. It either will, or it won’t. It’s my experience that in this situation, if it comes true- many individuals tend to have a restored faith that their god is listening, and this is proof of it. However, if it doesn’t work in their favor, the same individuals will acquiesce to the idea that it was god’s plan for their wish to not come true. Atheists calculate things rather than pray, because we understand the probability, or the likeliness of something to occur is a more practical approach to understanding whether or not your wish will be granted. If you desire a promotion at work, you may add up the amount of hours you put in, as well as the quality of the work combined with how much the managers like you. You may also think that asking for god’s blessing is an asset to your cause. Atheists can’t do that. We try to see how a manager would effectively grade our work, as well as how our quality stacks up against competitors. There is no third-party to intervene, and if we receive such a position it would be through the gracious regard of our superiors, as well as the sweat we put into the daily grind itself.

I have a challenge to all believers. Before you shut me down, know that you won’t have to sacrifice a thing.

When you wake up tomorrow, I want you to do one simple thing:

Go on about your day.

That’s it. You don’t have to do anything else. Not a single thing. Tomorrow, do every single chore you would usually do. Go to work just like you would any other day. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner the same way. Take a shower or bath, in the same manner. Talk to your friends, family, or co-workers the same way. Live your life in the same peaceful, wonderful manner that you’re already used to.

However…

Leave God out of it. Don’t stop to pray for things, and don’t ask for blessings. Don’t thank him for your food, or for any simple victories. Don’t worry about a threat of a bad place in the afterlife, and don’t get nervous over what god will think.  Calculate the probability of things, and use logic and a constant scale of morality to solve your daily woes and issues. I think you’ll find it’s easy to do if you simply feel as if you’re taking a day off from faith. Do this for one day, and you can return to your life with God on your side. I do ask that you undergo this task with some manner of discipline though, because if you’re just going to flake halfway through the day, then your fear of the unknown is clearly affecting your life.

When you go back to your life with god however, I request that you review your day off from him. You might be surprised to discover that nothing has changed. The world didn’t end, you weren’t stricken by a disgusting illness, and no horrible tragedies befell you. Now ask yourself, could you do this for two days? Three? Even a week? Could you live your life like this? Were you slowed down one bit by not having to worry about god? I think you’ll find the answer is “no”, and through this you will be granted a knowledge that few faith-based people have the privilege of understanding:

It’s possible to live a good life without god.

For those of you out there who are hesitant to accept my challenge, undoubtedly because you’re unsure if there will be negative repercussions, I beg you to reconsider.

After all, if your faith is half as unshakable as you claim it is, then you’ve got nothing to lose by humoring me, and your connection with God might very well be strengthened.

Blissful, but not content.

Overjoyed with sentiment.

All the world is a place…

…for your mind to waste.

-Jake


Invent the Truth II

When engaging with a conservative on a social media website, one expects to find what you would with any common debater:

 

  • a series of easy-to-grasp talking points
  • data to back up their assertions
  • reliable sources of information, taken from independent parties
  • a lack of logical fallacies
  • ZERO shameless gimmicks that serve no purpose

 

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. While, admittedly there are many wonderful examples of well-versed modern conservatives who have a true grasp on current events, and have a talent for balancing various different topics including politics, the majority of them lack any clear direction with their arguments, which usually forces them to become belligerent and resort to defensive techniques. Instead of putting in an effort to add a bit of substance to their party-obsessed aggression, they avoid the conflict from the start by outlining a disgustingly useless wall of text that denotes their political affiliations, as well as various other keywords that prove their ‘purity’ and show what they believe to be online credibility to any offenders of their cause.

While it can be argued that a few well-placed words in one’s short profile header can be useful in distinguishing an individual’s attributes and stances, the same can not be said for the plethora of semi-competent sheep who recycle the same catchphrases, one-liners, and titles for themselves as if promoting themselves as an effigy of some right-swaying hero.

That brings me to where I keep my evidence, for my claim. These people, while undoubtedly functional citizens, haven’t the slightest clue how crippling their ignorance is when it comes to debating. The wound they inflict upon themselves comes when they choose to provide a wide list of terms that all make them easy to categorize, as well as dissect before a single word from them is uttered. While this tactic makes them the simplest of targets to shred in verbal combat, they hilariously believe it serves as protection; a showcase of patriotism and godliness that gives them limitless integrity in the eyes of their peers.

To show how tragically common this is, I have taken the top fourteen out of a total of thirty-nine that I was able to find on Twitter in a matter of minutes. Note the ridiculous similarities:

 

Now that you’ve witnessed the absurdity, have any patterns emerged from this mess? The most obvious regurgitations are assuredly the abuse of the word “Constitution”, as well as the usage of the title “Constitutionalist”. This is primarily used as a form of pseudo-patriotism to give the impression that the person has rigorously studied the text of the United States’ Constitution, and that by placing this tag in their bio they believe it demands a higher level of respect. This is nonsense, of course. This shroud is only meant to conceal a lack of reading into the document itself, as none of them who place this phrase have taken the time to memorize such a notable work, or they would not throw its name about with such pomp and disdain.

Noting that words such as “freedom”, and “liberty” also make numerous appearances, it would be a joke to state that they also take these words seriously, considering that the majority of the users who paste these patriotic words in with their name ironically belong to a party that constantly seeks to limit the freedom and liberty of women, minorities, and a multitude of other interest groups. While I’ve covered this issue many times in the past, I would like to reiterate that the right is a wing dedicated to the constant abuse of religious principles, creating a moral shield that allows them to believe that their actions are justified, when in reality they may be truly unethical and discriminatory.

Lastly, and possibly most humorous is the prospect of party-affiliation they have chosen to shift to in this brave new age of voting we’ve entered into. If you’ll take a quick glance back at the list, you may discover that all of them seem to hail from some offshoot of “Constitutional Conservatism”, or “Libertarianism”. Amusingly, many of these have also somehow come to identify themselves as “independent”, which is already neutralized by the idea of swerving to the far right in the first place. Forgive that statement for sounding too forward, but it is not a stretch to imagine by some of the quotes above that these people are far into the red to the point of no return.

Now, the question that no one has asked yet stabs at the loyalty of these people, to their respected parties. For such right-leaning individuals to suddenly pull themselves gently towards the center by bestowing the title of “Libertarian” to themselves, they absolutely don’t seem that inclined to follow that structure. In actuality, it would seem that the Libertarian party that has recently gained a significant boost in popularity due to the mild success of Congressmen Ron Paul, and Governor Gary Johnson, has created a new “safe-zone” for Conservatives who wish to evade the negative light their archaic party has brought upon them as of late.

While you can see a myriad of different terms and names plastered above, denoting all kinds of wonderful and noble causes these people are dedicated to, not ONE of them chooses to be affiliated with the Republican party that more accurately suits their demographic. Curiously, even the most radical of these neo-conservatives chooses to place their flag at the feet of the TEA party, rather than be seen with the Republicans, undoubtedly because of the horrific reputation they’ve earned as of the past decade.

Why does this crowd feel that they must shield themselves behind a wall of pseudo-nationalistic, incessantly repeated, vaguely-distinguished flags? This is not the way for them to prove they can talk politics. This isn’t even the right way for them to choose their party affiliation. This is one more gimmick for the right-wing to hide behind, simply because they refuse to detach themselves from the misguided ethics that they cherish.

How long until they stop being “Constitutionalists”, and start paying attention to what’s actually in the Constitution?

-Jake

 


Lethe

This pale room, illuminated only by the streetlamps through the window, provide a charcoal outline to my settings.

The walls, seemingly metallic, have long since corroded; corridors leading from the room give way to rusted architecture. The ceiling is within arm’s length, yet my surroundings cast an air of reluctance on the notion to touch anything at all. While the faint, white light dimly shines into the room through a dense fog outside, an internal glow can be seen emanating from the floor. As if the entirety of the surface was a radiant source of power, a strange sort of understanding came as to the catalyst for such a crude home.

The floor, a sheet of knee-deep water, soaked everything in sight. It ran through the main room, and down a long hallway like a river. At the end of the hall, the light faded into darkness; this mysterious void seemingly devoid of all furnishings, decorations, or doors. Perhaps it was the door, and the room was just all that could be seen from where I was standing. A voice called out from behind me, and there on a small beige couch she lay. Curled up beneath a pile of black fleece, her soft, pale form could hardly be recognized. My confusion obvious, a slender forearm and hand extends outwards towards my position at the edge of the room.

“What are you doing here,” I ask from my corner. “…and where are we?”

Her hand beckons me over, as fingers one by one curl back towards her palm. Doubt, clawing at my mind for such an inviting gesture, freezes me in place. A second, precautionary glance down the long corridor allows me a moment to question the decision. Upon returning my gaze to the plush couch though, I notice a strange occurrence. The water line, previously up to the arms of the chair has now receded, allowing for what seems a safe haven from the tide. As I stride over, the ripples reflect parabolic waves of light off the ceiling and walls. I pull my legs up over hers, attempting to settle in a comfortable position closest to the wall. As I nudge my way under the covers, I place my head on her shoulder. Immediately, the familiar scent of complacency and repose penetrates my senses, lulling me into a trance-like state. While the waves and white noise churn in the background, momentarily I am lost within the confines of warm serenity. This feeling, a much longed for event that I have since been robbed of, brings me to the verge of joy. However, it becomes painfully evident that events are unfolding around me. Almost like a collage of scenes I’ve never witnessed, a story is written that consciously I’ve never recognized.

An assortment of shops, all colored in various bright hues, is sprawled before me. As I walk down the sidewalk with her, peering in all of the windows and chuckling to myself at the people inside, my face begins to fade from my body. My features, all slowly disintegrating into dust are replaced by new ones. Colorless, shapeless, soulless; the new form of myself carries with it a hooded menace who I can’t recognize, and don’t want to. It’s a distorted shell of who I represent, and I avert my eyes to the opposite end of the room, where another vision takes place.

I’m driving down a long suburban road, at nightfall. My black hoodie, zipped up high to stave off the cold only provides insulation for my frustration. As I turn my eyes towards the passenger seat, she sits with apologetic eyes staring out the window. Dead pools of limitless resentment, I struggle to comprehend why we’re angry in the first place. As I scan over the panorama, I turn towards her, seemingly ready to reiterate the same question that curses my speech day after day.

“What’s wrong?”

No information is shared. A long pause takes place, where suspenseful dread creeps up between the seats. Trees and power-lines pass by continuously, providing a monotonous canvas for me to bide my time with. She turns her head slightly, her distant disposition flickering briefly to allow me one snippet of disdainful indifference to my inquiry.

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

From my place in the chair, I’m reminded at once of the loathing of that phrase that I possess. I crane my head to the center of the room, and catch one final frame placed directly in middle of the ceiling. As I strain to properly glimpse this image, I climb up from the warmth of the couch, leaving behind my comfort in search of catharsis. I gently step into the center of these decimated living quarters, and fixate my attention into this portrait of disgrace. Of what I should view as happiness, I can feel only hatred and abandonment.

A large beach towel is stretched wide on the sand. An empty, gorgeous landscape of exotic wonder lies beyond the towel, providing what can only be considered a perfect ending to a silly romance movie. It is the stereotypical cover of a vacation pamphlet, inviting all loving couples to spend their honeymoon, wedding, or anniversary there. Upon first glance, only peace could be found here. Of course, my nightmare was yet to unfold. As the camera panned downwards, allowing a look at the owners of the wide beach-towel, I am greeted by the face of betrayal. Their legs, entwined at the knees and ankles, immediately ignite my fury. Bare skin meets bare skin, in a union of lustful celebration. This strange man, unknown to me is an aggressor in my own fantasy, raping every joyful idea I had ever imagined. Envious disgust takes hold, and as the frame begins to zoom in on their arms and shoulders locked in horrifying embrace, I lose it.

With both arms outstretched, I claw at the edges of the picture frame. Regardless of the strength of its attachment, I pry at it with all my might. It gives, almost too easily, and rust showers me from above. Water begins streaming through the gaping hole in the ceiling, flooding the room in a current that flows towards the darkness. as I watch furniture, curtains, and terrible trinkets get carried down the hall, I throw the frame. A broken ornate harbinger of pain, I feel little remorse for the destruction I’ve brought upon it. There was no truth hidden beneath, only that which I rejected the most. This room contained no meaning, only the suffering I wished to evade. With eyes now red with malice, I spun around to the couch to voice my revulsion to her. I was not met by apologetic blue eyes, nor was I greeted by a satisfied grin. There she lay where I left her, the blanket now gone from the raging waters around us.

A stone sculpture remains in her place. With tears in her eyes, and arms reaching out to me, a yearning statue was all that was left. All at once, the weight of the torrent finally dragged the couch, and with it her effigy toppled over, smashing into pieces against the floor. They were then swept quickly down the raging river, and into the void.

“IS THIS WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANTED ME TO SEE?!” I called out after her shattered pieces. I felt empty, and lonely.

Forsaken and and crippled, I sank to my knees in the water. Chilling waves of horror swept past me, and there in failing light of the room, I threw myself at the mercy of the current. Freezing comfort filled my lungs, a moment that I have feared for my entire life. This end, no longer bearing pain for me, brought me into the shadows I dared not tread before.

Then I woke up.

Hold me near, my one friend and guide
As I drown through your fingers
Drown through your love
For you are the life that I hate
You are my… You are my…

Drag me down, in passionate sighs
With the ocean above me
And flames in my eyes
And grant me a life I can live
Without
Take me away

From the life that I hate

-Jake


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