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.