Just hangin' at the flat listening to some Queens of the Stone Age. I'm not a big fan of Like Clockwork, but the song 'I Appear Missing' resonates a lot with me:
It felt contrived and somewhat "poor me", regardless of how true it feels so I didn't publish it on it's own. I feel better about contextualising it here as part of a larger post.
There was a BBQ happening at the flat, but it wasn't suggested as a flat activity, it was just something that my flatmate said: "I might have a BBQ tonight." I read that as "I might have a BBQ tonight" and by the time I realised I was expected to be a part of it with my other flatmate, I was already down the rabbit hole of anxiety and confusion, my brain flipping out about my own stupidity and feeling like an outsider again.
I didn't want to move into a flat with other people, but I am financially unable to live on my own so felt forced into this position. That, I don't hate, nor regret, but there has been a feeling of being uncomfortable around my flatmates, maybe because they are younger than me, maybe because there are things that haven't been said, or that one of them is not expressing, therefore causing me to feel like I have to tip-toe around that particular subject matter because it hasn't been put out in the open. I don't necessarily begrudge the flatmate for not being more communicative on this subject, as I feel it is their right to either talk about it or not, but it has also made me feel like ... I don't belong / am not trusted. This, I don't blame myself or them for, since it is a reflection of the society we live in, but I do feel somewhat out of place nevertheless.
When I first went looking for flats, I found a house with an upstairs that was self-contained, but with house-kitchen downstairs where there were three more rooms and an orchard worker already renting one of the rooms. Upstairs was being rented for about $240 /wk and I was ready to jump on it since I had full-time work, and even on minimum wage I was willing to make sacrifices just to have that personal space to myself. Unfortunately, the house was sold within the week. This flat came along and I snatched it up after a really positive look-in, and although the flatmates are still positive people who I like, I can't help feeling I have little in common with people who do a lot of kayaking, trail biking, snowboarding, and are both skippers during the summer tourist months. And they love watching Rugby (audible groan).
And I like books.
I left music. I wanted no part in chasing something that gave nothing back. I gave everything I had to it, every emotion I felt, every spare piece of time to scrape and sculpt songs out of, but ultimately, I had no way of presenting these songs to the world. At least not without the support of others. That support seemed to come and go but never stuck around to help out in the long run. I just ended up feeling like I was at square one all over again, every time. Most musicians make steps that move their goals forward, but every step I took ended me up right back at the start like I was restarting a race I had already run many times and got nowhere with.
Most of my adult life I've asked myself when do I get to sit down and write my novels? Dirteater of which has been in existence since 1997/8, but has only had notes and an occasional scene written for it, but of which the entire structure, characters, themes and narrative are all worked out; Welcome Home 1998; Deiaul 2001. In 2014 when I had no work but was given the chance to apply for a teaching job I had previously enquired about but hadn't manifested until now, I had begun moving into writing mode with Dim Day and I made a decision to pull my job application knowing I'd never be able to continue writing while teaching full-time (I know what my writing habits are like!). I was told by a family member that I was making a big mistake and would regret not going for the job choosing to work on my next novel instead. I don't regret it at all. I wrote more than I'd ever be able to write working full-time in a job where I had to care about other people's needs over my own. This is the frustrating reality I faced when I did finally take a teaching job in Canterbury during 2015 after my writing had slowed down (at this point I had already moved onto expanding 'The Future Unfolds' into Auralye on a Harp). In 2016 after the new year had started, work had become a minefield of bad communication from management and inadequate support for a Provisionally Registered Teacher who had travelled from job to job with inconsistent evidence of teaching being gathered.
I love the classroom, I love the students, and I love being there for them and encouraging their talents no matter how big or small; but a part of me was dying from not being able to fully express itself, and I couldn't stand seeing Dirteater drift further and further into the distance as the years went by. Do I have to be an old man in retirement before I can sit down and write the novel I planned when I was just 21?
I made a decision. It was the right decision. Whatever poverty I face now is a result of that. I have no more music to give anyway; what exists just needs to be recorded and anyone can do that - it certainly doesn't need to be me!
The isolation isn't a problem. If I could have that, I would take it; it's the non-isolation that financial strain causes that is a problem and having to work around the issues in my head as they converge, conflict, and crash into situations I misunderstand and am misinformed about. It's almost ironic that the orchard work I have been involved in has allowed me to exercise responsibility through confidence in knowing what I'm doing and what is expected of me, and being unafraid to ask questions. But orchard work is coming to an end, and I aim to have time on my hands to write. Even if I'm stuck in this house with these flatmates I don't really relate to, I have to work to make that time to be alone to write.
To write the days and nights away.
Especially the Dim Days.
Like a short, sharp, stabbing of hardcore, ‘Melt Your Mind’ comes at the listener with fast paced drums and bass setting up the flurry of attacks by the guitar. Brodsky’s vocals charge in with a scream before confidently singing “Feel the heat of a fire at your feet rising up one smoke-ring at a time, in this life we all get left behind so maybe, it’s gonna work out fine. Take it from me – don’t let it melt your mind.” Appropriate metal imagery has been reforged to bring positive balance to the thrashing instruments throughout and the album feels like an uplifting assault that sweeps the listener away with it. I can imagine crowds cheering and singing along to the line “Blow! Blow me a kiss of death” (‘Kiss of Death’).
In 2005, Cave In collaborated with Ben Koller from Converge on a two song single split ‘Shapeshifter / Dead Already’ and for the most part, this is where Brodsky and Koller decided to pick up from when they started jamming again in 2012. In 2013 the duo released the EP Helium Head, followed up in 2016 by Bleeder. Heart palpitating, unleashed fury is the best way to describe the music on these releases. It’s like the ugly offspring of hardcore and thrash metal who doesn’t care what you think but still wants to lift you up into the flames of rejuvenation.
‘Micro Aggression’ continues the bold attack while ‘Date with the Devil’ is a fun tale that ends with “Came inside her, Satan’s daughter; nine months later, who’s the father? Another day drags, tail between her legs.” Brodsky doesn’t discuss how the date came about, but the results are warning enough. ‘Irons in the Fire’ begins like an ode to both Iron Maiden and Metallica before quickly bringing back the thrash to remind the listener that this isn’t mainstream Heavy Metal here, it’s pure Metalcore. ‘Open Flame’ is a sleeper stand out that felt much like the rest of the album until I sat down and had a good listen to the song. “I tasted open flame, my tongue burned off again” rushes through two verses to get us to a bridge with pounding drums, and here the song breaks down with a guitar figure that feels like the protagonist has taken a much needed breather in preparation for the finale.
With Bleeder I felt there was a focus more on the rock and the melody, but on War Moans, while melody is still intact, the thrash has been brought to the forefront and propels everything forward with even more intensity. When the music slows down on the final track ‘Bandages’, that intensity is felt even more as Brodsky pines “Bandages on me – I’m wounded in love; Bandages on me – to cut off the blood.” A cutting guitar figure interplays with the bass over a trippy atmospheric backing, and distinctive vocals always make lines like “Scare, in the shape of my face, a version of me falling free” always feel heartfelt and sincere.
In a world where albums are getting unnecessarily longer to gain hit-counts on streaming websites, Mutoid Man reminds us at a mere 40 minutes of the importance of not wearing out the listener by keeping songs at a 3-4 minute length and packing every second with tight playing, massive riffs and catchy melodies. I can’t personally claim to like this more than Bleeder, but that’s just my own taste and perhaps a bit more variety on the tempo and riff front on the previous album, but War Moans has everything that a listener of melodic Metalcore could want: Riffs are furious, chords burn, bass thumps, drums pound, and vocals soar.
Some updates to keep me updated.