More Fool Me

How do you engage with somebody on a point of dissent when they don’t have the required vocabulary, literal or experiential, to do so? There is great wisdom in ceding ground when one doesn’t possess that vocabulary, but there is even greater wisdom in acknowledging that dearth in the first place. The latter unfortunately is a rare quality indeed, hence the incessant ego-fueled wrangling we witness over subjects that ideally should be approached with an inquisitive mindset and not a confrontational one. But deep-seated insecurity manifests itself in just such fractious ways. The insecure individual would rather feast on his opponent’s – or should I say someone he perceives to be an opponent – frustration, and come away smirking with a misleading “ha! I showed him!“, rather than accept that the role of the learner in a conversation is not an inferior one, that mutual participation enhances both parties’ qualitative experience: the “learner” learns, obviously, and the knowledge-giver gets a chance to examine the sanctity of his opinion.

Experience and knowledge builds up cumulatively, but you don’t know that when you are busy being a vindictive viper out to guard its feeble nest. An acquaintance of mine is who we would call a fairweather metal fan, meaning he does not obsess over its mysteries the way the rest of us do. He can’t for his life understand how I can enjoy old Immolation more than new Immolation. He has heard all the big names, and more than a few obscure ones, over the years, but in passing and not with any deal of energy or conviction. Therefore he is sincerely flummoxed over my preferences, because new Immolation has loud, shiny production and attractive melodies, and aren’t those the be all and end all of music?

I am amused but like a fool take the bait and try to put into words things that should never be put into words. I talk to him about how the band no longer jams as a unit in the same location but instead overwhelmingly depends on Bob Vigna to send in ideas from whichever part of the country he is in. How this splintered songwriting process has taken a toll on the cohesiveness of the music. How parts are now written to accomodate Steve Shalaty’s staggered drumming style, but in probability the situation is the other way around. How there is overconscious development of mood instead of the spontaneous atmosphere through death metal earlier.

On and on I go, rummaging through my head for other points pertaining to Immolation, many of which can be found on this blog. Not to prove a point, because debates are very much not my thing, but because it really is fun to talk about metal. But I can sense his eyes glaze over; you see, he doesn’t know about such things; let knowing well alone, he hasn’t even imagined that music can be thought of in such terms. But instead of it being a revelation of sorts to him, that music can indeed be an entirely different dimension of being, he fumbles about for something with which to knock me off my tenuously preserved composure. He says, “Ah, I don’t know, man. Nothing has ever quite thrilled me as much as Immolation. Deicide, for example. Blame it on God! I always found them too funny. Never understood why you liked them so much.

Classic, isn’t it? And more fool me. With age, I find I am as likely to give someone the benefit of the doubt as I am to dismiss them outright, but the former almost invariably leaves me burnt and needlessly aggravated. How then does one engage on a point of dissent with someone lacking your literal or experiential vocabulary? Judge the spirit in which they make their approach. Gauge their body language. If they seem amenable to a healthy exchange of ideas, then by all means indulge in it yourself. If, however, they’ve come to prove a point – and they leave blatant hints to this effect throughout, you just have to be not naive to see them – simply ask them to fuck off.

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Krisiun – Scourge of the Enthroned (2018)

Up till Ageless Venomous, Krisiun played a furious, if slightly unmemorable, style of death metal consisting almost entirely of cyclical, tremolo-picked riffs. From Works of Carnage onwards, that came to be replaced with the preponderance of a staccato element in the songwriting, culmination of which was the surprisingly accessible Southern Storm. However, as Immolation have gradually discovered over the last fifteen years, overuse of staggered riffing can interrupt song flow and even open the door for other more undesirable elements like groove and melody as artifice to creep into a once-uncompromising music. Krisiun have not been immune to these failings either, so it is interesting that Scourge of the Enthroned arrives as possibly the third incarnation of the Krisiun sound.

At a high level, Krisiun have essentially combined the previous two aspects of their technique. The cyclical nature of riffs is back, but not always in the erstwhile near-black metal style; instead, now, the staccato is as likely to be incorporated into the actual body of the riff itself as it is to serve its traditional role as riff demarcator. A somewhat vague impression to explain, but to these ears this effect is achieved by chopping up the individual riff into discrete portions by way of overt trills and palm-mutes. In other words, these riffs repeat as much as anything on Black Force Domain, but in micro increments, at the interstitial level.

On the periphery of this new mode of attack also lie the by-now ubiquitous arpeggiated dissonant stylings of orthodox black metal. It is strange how these flourishes have come to be a part of the repertoire of even experienced bands; they add no individuality to songs that are already difficult to individuate, but like the flamboyant understrike so irresistible while signing a document, guitarists seem compelled with an involuntary reflex to emphasize their riffs with these addendums.

To their credit, and unlike a band like Adversarial, Krisiun don’t get entirely carried away with the new toys in their creche, and look in equal part to their own past for inspiration. Within the very specific niche of Brazilian death metal and bands like Raebelliun, Horned God, Ancestral Malediction, and Ravager, Scourge of the Enthroned occupies a no less violent spot. Krisiun‘s finest hour may have come and gone, and while they will never truly rise out of death metal’s second tier, this is still a refreshingly no-holds barred comeback from a veteran band.

 

 

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Monstrosity – The Passage Of Existence (2018)

While Monstrosity albums from the 90s are true genre staples, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that the band have come to be so well-regarded by the underground as much for staying out of the spotlight as they have for their music. One hopes the underground detests attention whores and prima donnas; Monstrosity have been anything but, making appearances without undue fanfare and then disappearing as inconspicuously leaving well-wishers in a state of perpetual speculation. But with years falling away like so many leaves in between albums, one wonders about the muse that has motivated Lee Harrison & co. to assemble the current batch of songs. With time comes even greater technical proficiency and hopefully wisdom too but is such protracted pensiveness really beneficial to a music as spontaneous as death metal?

The Passage Of Existence is not as intimately confrontational as the band’s first three full-lengths. It does not contain the speed-drenched rhythmic violence of Imperial Doom, a quality that saw the band making hairpin bends in songwriting without missing a beat, or the sheer bullish swagger of Millenium. In Dark Purity introduced more deliberate melodic phrasing that helped the band move beyond its formative influences in Slayer into an altogether more menacing direction. On this album, Monstrosity wrote legitimately epic, technical death metal as opposed to mere spidery exercises in adrenaline, using contrasting textures to embellish the struggle between light and dark.

Rise To Power continued in the same general vein as In Dark Purity, perhaps even upping the intensity, but while being serviceable for its time and a near replica of the previous album’s breathing patterns, it is not blessed with the same meaning; the cadences have lost their metaphysical significance and verge on the gratuitous, much like any other album from this shapeless, forgotten period in death metal history. Spiritual Apocalypse, notwithstanding token efforts at variety through a new vocalist, some melodeath riffs, and extravagant but out of place guitar solos, ultimately followed Rise To Power‘s lead, in an unfortunate trend of diminishing returns.

The Passage Of Existence drops belatedly into this staggered timeline, retaining much the same line-up from Spiritual Apocalypse. Obvious immediately is the greater attention to individual song theme, something sorely missing on the previous two albums. The band achieves this identity partly through a juxtaposition of traditional death metal dissonance with heavy metal overtures, an unlikely marriage at first but which in the grand telling creates unified and even evocative narratives. As expected, rhythm guitars are intricately syncopated, dripping with melodic information and often in harmony during riff refrains. Lead guitar, however, is frequently given over to overt 80s Shrapnel Records-style acrobatics, and while one can admire the skill required to play these parts, acknowledge the role of the lavish guitar solo in bands as diverse as Immolation, Brutality, and Intestine Baalism, Monstrosity in an effort to accommodate these technical showcases shift the chord bed below them in undesirably saccharine directions.

Which is unfortunate, because these are well-written songs capable of standing on their own with minimal embellishment. Floridian death metal, gritty as it can be, has never shied away from instrumental flash, but there still is a fine line to be toed in terms of preserving the mood of the song. Monstrosity, like old Kataklysm, even make the enhanced melodicism work at the level of the riff, but ideally should have exercised more control over the lead guitar’s contributions in the studio.

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Profanatica’s artful simplicity

All music ever aims to do is capture one aspect of psychology with sincerity and a degree of verisimilitude. Music doesn’t necessarily have to cover the entire breadth of human emotion; such a task is not only near-impossible, but also undesirable and frequently prone to a cheap consumerism of the soul. Emotional states aren’t ephemeral except perhaps in the pathologically ill; a state of mind exists with consistency and duration, and therefore, if music is the balm one chooses as accompaniment, then it only makes sense to listen to something that is resolute in ambition and delivery.

This dynamic becomes all the more enjoined on the minimalist musician on account of the redundancy inherent in his art. Because he willfully denies so much of the musical vocabulary otherwise available to the rest of the world, he is forced to focus all the more acutely on the slice of psyche he chooses to expose. When this approach is used merely as ruse and trend, without any basis in conviction or imagination, it can easily become tedious, but the talented artist employs this form of musical-intellectual asceticism to capture his audience ever more securely in a communion of will and thought.

There have certainly been many projects, in and outside of metal, more musically minimalist than Paul Ledney’s life’s work in Havohej and Profanatica, but that hasn’t saved Ledney from accusations of peddling a boneheadedly simple and rehashed music. That he has remained steadfast to the anti-Christian vitriol of younger years also renders him easy prey to horn-rimmed hipsters mouthing witticisms like “you hate Jesus Christ, we get it already!” But realistically, in what way exactly would these critics want him to diversify? Should Ledney conveniently surrender his blasphemous preoccupations at this late date and become yet another politically aware cosplayer in what already is a nauseatingly saturated political climate? Moreover, does anyone truly think the few textures he employs in his music are suited for any purpose other than religious desecration?

Profanatica sounds the way it does for a reason. Unlike something abstract and essentially non-committal like ambient or noise, Profanatica has very real emotional logic about it, only that that logic is the obverse of anything carrying an even tenuously positive connotation. Vomiting on Christianity is but the surface aspect of an undeclared ideology that in fact thrives in a valueless aether. Whatever one holds sacred to the point of it actually becoming that individual’s identity, to the point where the individual ceases to be an individual in the real sense, this ideology ridicules. Christian, Satanist,  Black, White, Hindu, Muslim, Antifa, Alt-Right, Metalhead even, any label whatsoever regarded and co-opted with self-serving pride comes under its ire.

One is almost tempted to call such a destructive ideology, if it is indeed what Ledney purports to, fatalistic, for what good is negation for the sake of negation? I like to think of it as a kind of nativistic individuality, where a person’s innate but initially obscured sense of being comes to be realized and consolidated at a relatively young age, somewhere in between the time when the haze of childhood indoctrination wears off and the bombardment from competing philosophies begins. This does not mean that the person stops growing or absorbing valuable sense-data from his environment, rather that this constantly fluctuating environment can never make corrosive inroads into that being which is now nothing less than iron-girded. Nor does it mean that he lacks agency if need be; he can and should act, but the thing to consider is that he now takes stands with prejudice according to the dictates of that being and the gravity of the situation, and not because he’s expected to or came to be under the proprietorship of a mass-market label promoting some ideologism fundamentally alien to him.

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Medieval Steel

“Beyond the sands of time, in the realm of the mind, there is a land where life and death are ruled by steel.”

Of gigantic mirth and gigantic melancholy, Medieval Steel‘s eponymous song is the finest they ever wrote. It wouldn’t be cruel to say that this one song somewhat sustained and certainly resurrected a sputtering career, at least to a point where the band is regularly invited to true metal gatherings before audiences old and young. There are other songs in the band’s armory, including those from Dark Castle, the belated, self-financed follow-up released in 2013, but ‘Medieval Steel’ the song understandably remains the centerpiece of their performances, a real galvanizing force of nature that can raise goosebumps on the arms of metal’s most curmudgeonly.

Or can it? Apparently, some people’s sole vocation in life lies in being perpetual buzz killers. A live video of the song on Youtube, amid all the applause, draws a comment to the effect of: “Dance Metal plays. Crowd is happy

Do you sense the small-mindedness, the vicious pettiness on display here? There is an unhappy breed of person who thrives on belittling a thing of honest adulation with irony and sarcasm. Lost on him is the incongruency of using these tools of derision against a song which in spirit is the very antithesis of everything craven, underhanded, and effete. The irreverence and clueless rebellion of teenage years may have helped him think himself unique and against the grain in a time of hormonal turmoil, but to hang on to so much self-loathing in advanced age is a sorry sight and one unfortunately only too prevalent in current metal discourse. Conceivably, as others tell me, irony, sarcasm, and satire are not without literary value; that may well be the case, in literature, but not in metal, never in metal. If you care to talk about this music, make your words blunt and resound like hammer blows, and not the mewling, life-denying sophistry of the hipster dandy.

For no one, no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts…  This you can trust ...”

Steel of sword and steel of conviction, painfully simple yet profound philosophy. In such things is found some essence of ‘Medieval Steel‘, too. What man with hot blood rushing through his veins has not identified with this ideal at one stage or other in his life, claims of toxic patriarchy (hah!) be damned. What man, if not a dog, if not given to delusions of martyrdom, can gleefully turn the other cheek when he or his are bathed in the antagonist’s spittle? Polite society might domesticate him, its constraints might gentrify him, but instinct prevails when pushed to the brink like the proverbial call of the wild.

This then is the essence of ‘Medieval Steel‘. Truth be told, there is little that is novel about the song as a piece of music. It is an anthem, it plays to the arena, it has very standard structure, all attributes that can be used to describe countless other songs from the era. The song’s rhythm is based around a simple galloping E-D-E-G-C-D progression in the natural C major scale. There is delicate interplay among these four notes, from which C, D, E are shared by C major with its relative minor scale Am. They are the source of the vaguely wistful air of ‘Medieval Steel‘ which when contrasted in passing with the decisively bright major note G usher it into the realm of the epic transcendent.

All this is hyperbole to the cynical ear, probably, but how else to describe this feeling of almost overwhelming love when you hear a certain section of metal music? I feel it when the brief guitar solo appears in the opening bars of ‘Medieval Steel‘, I have felt it when shimmering arpeggios introduce Manilla Road‘s ‘Astronomica‘, I have even felt it on a level as granulated as a single bend on Deceased‘s ‘A Very Familiar Stranger‘. It is a feeling of complete surrender, what the philosophy of my country calls “bhakti” or devotion in conjunction with a supreme deity, when all you can do in the moment is sit back in awe and muse with vindication on the existence of such an innocent, unadulterated thing. It is the closest thing to a spiritual experience I know of.

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Living in a neurotic world

How does one keep their wits about in a neurotic world? All lives have their troubles, but it seems to me that the notion of suffering in solitude, with grace and dignity, has gone entirely out of fashion. Instead of internalizing their aches and pains and perhaps growing stronger as a result of that slow deliberation, people seem hellbent on infecting the world’s consciousness with their misery. How much of this is genuine, how much of it a puling cry for attention, who knows? To be sure, mental illness is nothing to be scoffed at; its origins are generally traceable all the way back to the earliest stages of a child’s development, right from when it hasn’t achieved a sense of identity, through incipient individuation and the separation anxiety manifested as it strikes ever farther out from its parents to consummate that burgeoning identity. When one really thinks about it, parenting emerges akin to walking a virtual tightrope; the slightest tug in the wrong direction at the wrong time, and one risks foisting an insufferable brat onto humanity’s collective head.

But does this absolve the individual of all responsibility for how he conducts himself? Can he go along his way happily souring the milk of the world’s weal, all so he can gain the temporary satisfaction of being heard and pitied like a member of some endangered species? Far from it. There are many instances of people with less than ideal upbringings who nevertheless, somewhere along the way, also developed a keen sense of introspection and the ability to arrest the needier aspects of their personalities. How can such a person be anything but revulsed when confronted with the swarms of crybabies prevalent today? When someone has never expected solicitude from the world for the hurts in their life, when they have achieved relative equanimity on the other end of the tunnel, can they be beholden to feeling even a smidgen of sympathy for these killjoys? Are they Christ strung up on a cross to willingly bear the burden of another’s sickness and emotional ineptitude?

An individual I was once close to had remarked, “But ODB, you have no problems in your life!“. For the longest time, I took that as a sort of indictment, as tokens of my very own neurosis, those being a lack of empathy for another’s suffering, an extremely low threshold for drama, and a general refusal to take stock of my situation in life. But it eventually dawned on me that it wasn’t my immaturity that was the issue; it was their inability to subsume their sorrows, real or make-believe, within a greater love, of any kind, with any degree of sincerity and consistency. And that is the key when you don’t really have any problems in life, at least none worth moping around in bed like so much dead weight on green earth, in other words, in the curious parlance of this time, when you’re too “privileged” to give a fuck: the only way to withstand the constant barrage of negativity is by distancing yourself from these professional ravagers of optimism, these pathological anhedonists, and their polemics and pity-plays. Rather, develop a routine, retain context, but most importantly invest your time and energy in something you simply love better.

 

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Condemner – Burning The Decadent (2018)

Condemner – Burning The Decadent

Condemner return from a brief hiatus with a debut full length that tries to balance the chromatic progressiveness of Omens Of Perdition with the insistent simplicity and brutality of American bands like Embalmer, Cardiac Arrest, and Profanatica. The latter development is chiefly evidenced in abrupt, near-grinding, repetitive riffs terminating on a note of ambiguity; where this device in the hands of above bands often results in a willful fracture of the song, a sort of stream of consciousness irreverence for the riff’s head or tail, Condemner find a way of logically juxtaposing these brazen departures with the immediate and larger body of the song. Burning the Decadent on initial listens may lack some of the fluid, well-tempered dynamic of the demo, but exposure reveals something of far greater import: this is the sound of a band that is fast realizing the subtle distinction between foresight and instinct and how the two seemingly opposing virtues can be brought to exist in harmony.

Burning The Decadent ends with the eighteen minute long behemoth ‘Extinguishment‘, modeled after Incantation‘s album-closing dirges. It offers the first instance of Condemner slowing down, if only relatively, and working through a range of tempos and textures. Doom as writing trope is almost entirely absent from the rest of the album otherwise; doom as oppressive sentiment, however, pervades all. Like Prosanctus Inferi, Condemner are not averse to straying away from the low end; riff lines composed of inverted or jumbled notes from the chromatic scale when played in rapid succession among climbing harmonic registers contribute greatly towards creating a uniformly thick and malicious atmosphere. This “thickness” in fact is the ultimate tribute that can be paid to Condemner; it is a veritable coagulating of one’s immediate soundspace in the presence of this recording, a manifestation almost physical in its urgency of whatever destructive portent the band is trying to convey.

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Magnum Itiner Interius – Interspaceframe (2018)

Magnum Itiner Interius – Interspaceframe

Interspaceframe is The Chasm frontman Daniel Corchado’s first real exploration of a non-metal medium. The textures found on this recording share much in common with Vangelis, Brian Eno‘s Apollo recordings, Carbon Based Lifeforms, and 80s synthwave, while frequently retaining the brevity and acute movement of heavy metal. What should be of interest to The Chasm fans is the evident continuity from Farseeing The Paranormal Abysm and A Conscious Creation From The Isolated Domain. On those albums, Corchado had already begun showing both subliminal and overt tendencies towards a more expansive, panoramic sound, experiments that may not have always bore fruit within a conventional metal framework. This project, however, affords him a freer outlet for expressing in greater detail aspects of his musical lineage rarely shared with his audience before.

In the middle of the album lies ‘Flight (Of The Orphan Of Orion)‘, a jaunty quasi-dance number that feels like a mix between Mercyful Fate’s ‘Gypsy‘ and something off Depeche Mode‘s Construction Time Again. The Chasm‘s patented use of suspended arpeggios adds a hint of mysterious insinuation to proceedings, but the more salient observation here and elsewhere is the overall looseness in writing and tone selection. Electronic music is primarily concerned with timbre, pitch, and arrangement, in more or less that order of precedence. Corchado chooses to paint his cosmic themes in predominantly bright, crystalline hues while relegating feedback and distortion to the role of background drone. This in no way makes Interspaceframe trivial, but for a musician whose work so far has been of a singularly serious character, it is a significant development: melancholy and aggression used to compose the ruling feeling on The Chasm albums, and even much previous MII work; it is here replaced with something a little more buoyant but no less grand; the intrepidity to dream in the cold stillness of the space within and without, the doubt that inevitably follows in the wake of that brave endeavor, and, ultimately, the optimism that makes itself known at the end of the tunnel.

 

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Into Oblivion – Paragon (2018)

Into Oblivion – Paragon

The death that lurks within is the war that sets you free
– Beyond The Golden Throne

Paolo Girardi’s depiction of a bustling portside city from Roman times, complete with Doric-Tuscan facades and triremes, instantly and aptly sets the mood for Into Oblivion‘s third full length album. In theme, ambition, and construction, Paragon is nothing short of Homeric; as has been this band’s wont, one might say, but even considering their penchant for exhaustively detailed narration, Paragon is truly gargantuan of scope, an epic of heroism and existential dread couched in the cryptomystical poetry of the haruspices, balancing the transformative arc of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha with the mad, didactic exuberance of Zarathustra.

On opener ‘Gates Of Destiny‘, we are presented with the all-conquering protagonist hero, universally feared and respected as adversary and ruler. He has traversed the known reaches of the earth and laid low all those who’ve come before him, yet now portent gnaws at his soul, a clouded vision hinting at times of hardship in his future. Despite all riches and accolades, he sees himself as nothing more than a “slave marching in amaranthine chains“, a slave to will and avarice, to warring instincts, and the vicissitudes of time. To seek some glimpse of what lies ahead, he confers with the famed sin-eater of lore, hoping for atonement in her sacrifice, hoping she can provide the salve to soothe his restless spirit. “Tell me where, sin-eater, for I know my desire cannot end in you“.

And she said nothing, but her glance fell upon the sea…

The musical background to the song so far has worked through alternating lulls and bouts of frenetic activity, but as this particular dialogue commences, a Tom Araya-like shriek ratchets up the intensity in incremental waves of energy; a baritone builds under the surface like the howling ululations of souls lost until finally as the oracle’s glance falls upon the sea it breaks out into the open air with the relief of a man who has only just evaded a watery grave. The impact is immediate and immense, and a veritable summons to a voyage of self-discovery; the sea itself is the vast reservoir of man’s fears and hopes, holding promise of new beginnings but only after paying passage through the maw of great peril. For our hero, it signifies a definitive turning of the page, the unknown expanse of the ocean before him charting a metaphorical course from depredation to disillusionment, and perhaps, hopefully, the redemptive self-realization that lies beyond.

The caveat of such dense feedback between word and music is the vast song lengths needed to realize it. This in turn leads to natural, even obligatory, variation in tempos, and a tendency to allow certain sections to repeat until the desired level of musical granulation is achieved. Both render Paragon virtually inaccessible to gratuitous consumption; to do it justice as a listener demands heavy investment of time, an uncluttered frame of mind, and a willingness to treat metal unironically and as a serious form of art. While intended and united admirably as a concept album, to avoid fatigue, Paragon can just as easily be heard episodically; music and word here are analogous to mold and color, each helping the other to create full effect; in my experience, a gradually progressive, composite treatment of both aspects over a reasonable span of time has only served to highlight its virtues.

Truly, Paragon carries the majesty of ancient works of elder civilizations, people who thought in terms of inexpressible swathes of time, who looked into the cosmos and bestowed their labors for the spiritual edification of distant progeny; while there is great and humbling nobility in that thought alone, Paragon, given the time it deserves, also feels more human in the here and now, a score to the myriad conflicts that occur inside every thinking individual’s heart. It is no stretch to call this Into Oblivion‘s most definitive album yet.

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Farewell, Mark Shelton

Like so many before him, Mark Shelton has passed on. As we grow older, they whose music we admired, whose ideal we saw fit to emulate in whatever meagre way we could, drift off into that great and final sunset with disturbingly clockwork regularity. It feels strange to mourn their deaths; they were strangers to us in life after all, but the void left in their wake, the void in our composite understanding of the world as shaped by them, is all too real. Their demise is a kind of intellectual and emotional bereavement, not so different as one might initially think from that felt when a flesh and blood loved one dies. Naturally, the impact may not register as intensely as the latter because the sphere of their influence was not as pervasive and all-encompassing as that of people we have known intimately. But within the boundaries of that attenuated realm, on its own terms, our bond with them was as fierce and as personal as any other. Through their music, we were privy to an aspect of their sincerest, most passionate emotions, to moments and experiences that must have been of cathartic import when they were being realized.

It is heart warming then to think that we relive and imbibe some elemental essence of their personalities each time we play and sing along to their songs. Lives leave footprints after them; some small and some indomitable, but impressions remain all the same, and with scant regard of the author’s ambivalence towards things like legacies and posterity. When one is fortunate enough to discover a reason for pursuing life with relentless vigor, when one pours the full power of their convictions into that lifelong endeavor, and when the fates collude to orchestrate a connection between the author and their audience, and not necessarily on the same contiguous slab of time either, then the ending of that life on this mortal plane means little more than a passing twinge; the specific pocket of symbiosis between the two parties endures for as long as the other upholds the flame. Mark Shelton, in the avatars that most concern us, the grizzled heavy metal warrior who never gave in, but also the eternal child who never ceased to gaze wonderingly at the stars, will continue to be resurrected in whole spiritual embodiment whenever ‘Necropolis‘ rings out amongst an august congregation of Manilla Road fans.

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