Guess The Song – The healer of all wounds

The murky skies of the night before had turned into a bright blue sky by morning and the rain from the previous hours had given the air a freshness not felt by many for quite some time. Mark stopped his alarm clock and unconvincingly got out of bed to prepare for work. He had had an agitated night’s sleep, mostly because of an eerie feeling he had about a colleague at work who was seemingly very happy, even though she had suffered a great loss not long ago. The flashbacks of one of his most defining moments did not help either, as he felt his stomach curl because he felt the worst for her, given the sudden mood change. He felt the same all those years ago, but managed to pull through in the end.

With a combination of happy thoughts and morning preparation, he brushed these thoughts aside, made breakfast, brushed his teeth and set out to work. His office was not far from his home, but Mark would usually use the public transport regardless of the weather. This time around however, something made him decide to walk to work, and given that he had enough time, he started his journey.

While walking, he looked around and saw that many people were at the balconies, admiring the bright colors of the morning and taking in the fresh air. He started wondering whether or not he should walk to work more, as it gives him time to better plan the day ahead of him and to be alone with his thoughts without too much of a hindrance. His train of thought was suddenly interrupted when he found himself in the middle of a crowd. Surprised by this gathering, he started wondering what was happening and then noticed that they were all looking up. When he looked, he froze in his spot.

Dangling from the rooftop were the feet of his work colleague. The building being tall, he couldn’t quite figure out if she could hear him and without a second thought he ran towards the emergency stairs and started climbing them. Once up, he shouted her name:

‘CARLA!’

Taken aback by the familiar voice, she turned to him, tears rolling from her eyes. It was the first time Mark actually looked her in the eye (she had a tendency to avoid looking at people) and noticed their beautiful sky-blue color. Coupled with her dark hair, it gave her a distinct note of beauty he did not notice before.

When Mark started walking towards her however, she became defensive:

‘What are you doing here? Leave me alone.’

‘See, now I can’t really do that, can I?’ he replied

‘You come one step closer and this ends…all of it, so I can finally get my peace and silence and get away from all the pity in everyone’s eyes.’

A bit unconvinced, Mark remained still, his heart pounding so hard he felt his chest was going to explode. Resisting the urge to move towards her, he hastily said:

‘Don’t do this Carla, please…’

‘Are you going to appeal to my logic? The logic of a person for whom the only thing that matters is the pain of being alone? Who’s had a never-ending series of sleepless nights when all she was capable of was praying for tomorrow to bring a new perspective? The person who’s always been told that there will be a time when she would be able to finally crack another smile and laugh again, even if it wouldn’t be for quite a while?’

Mark was suddenly reminded of all those years ago when his mother suddenly left and when his father, out of guilt and depression ended his own life. He remembered feeling the exact same way, viewing the world as this horrible place where all of happiness was gone and there was nothing worth living for and thinking that ending it would finally help him achieve the peace he craved for so long and so much.

‘There can be no logic in these moments, of that I am aware. So no, I am not going to appeal to your logic.’

‘What do you mean, these moments? Are you deaf or have you not heard that I don’t want your pity or remorse?’

‘Pivotal moments are when you come alive and do things you never though you were capable of. Think about how far you’ve gotten in the last few months, from junior to team lead, based on skills and hard work alone. It’s not something to take lightly. And no, I am not deaf. I have been where you are now, all those years ago. And I know how tempting this moment is. But whatever has happened to you, can’t be undone. You just have to think of the time you had, even if it went bad at some point. It’s one of the hardest feelings to achieve, acceptance.’

Thoroughly amazed at what she was hearing, Carla asked, tears still rolling from her eyes:

‘What happened to you?’

‘When I was about 10, my mom left us and my dad felt very guilty about it. I don’t know the whole reason, I think she just…fell out of love and didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore. He felt guilty and eventually this guilt lead to depression. I was devastated when he ended his life, by jumping off a building nonetheless. And for a great three years I had a continued struggle going on in me until finally I snapped and made peace with the decision. I was going to do it after my cousin’s birthday party.’

As he was saying this, he moved a few steps closer to Carla, without her objecting.

‘So how come you changed your mind?’, Carla asked, the bewilderment on her face growing. She never knew this about Mark. He was a very nice person at work, and yet somehow she felt that he understood human feelings far better than any other people from work. For the first time she understood why.

‘My cousin is a very carefree and joyful person and he always enjoyed spending time with me. And after the whole incident, I went into hiding, not wanting to see anyone. He insisted on me coming to his birthday party. And having the company of him and several other kids our age and a gaming console proved to be some good therapy.’

Mark started moving even closer to Carla. Visions of her jumping started clouding his mind, but he managed to block them out, one by one.

‘It was during that day that the pain starting going away. I was playing a role and putting on the bravest of my faces during those three years, so as to hide the pain. And then one day, I realized the pain was gone. And even though I dreaded every tomorrow from those horrible days, that tomorrow always came.’

Mark was now next to Carla. She still had tears rolling from her eyes. In what was probably the hardest period of her life, she never knew there was actually one man who understood her beyond the fake niceties at work.

‘Were you ever able to be happy again? Does the memory ever fully go away? Do the nightmares of relieving the car accident that left you without your sibling and with your parents paralized ever stop?’

Given the hardship with which Carla had spoken these words, it was clear to Mark that this was probably one of the few (if not the first) times she actually told anyone about her loss. With a confident yet still a bit fearful voice, he said:

‘It all starts when you allow yourself the first smile. And it becomes even easier when you decide to go out with your friends or coworkers for an after work dinner, and stay for a while longer when they ask you too. In time, with small steps like these, you will be ready to laugh again. And the world around you will brighten up, your sleep will become better and the memories, while never fully dissapearing, will stop stinging so hard.’

The tension was now at very high levels. The crowd had called the police and an ambulance and the policemen divided into two groups, one being ready to catch Carla if she’d jumped and the other having climbed up the fire escape to the top of the building, getting ready to intervene should Mark, who did not observ them, needed help.

With an almost mechanical gesture, Mark raised his hand in order for Carla to be able to grap it and take her down and said:

‘Your life feels empty now, I know of this feeling. Please, don’t waste this precious gift you’ve been given. Start filling it with memorable moments. In the end, you will learn to laugh again.’

Carla’s tears had all but stopped now. She was still sobbing a bit, but she managed to calm herself down almost completely. She looked at Mark, then at his outstretched hand…and then she grabbed it, allowing herself to be pulled away from the edge of the roof.

The crowd below started cheeing and clapping their hands while the policemen from the roof escorted Mark and Carla safely downstairs, where Carla was then taken in by the doctor in the ambulance for some well needed rest and a general check-up. Mark kindly asked any and all people to give Carla her space and then sat down right next to the ambulance. And as he looked around, he felt that the sky was even brighter than before while the sun was giving him the benefit of a warm feeling he longed after this event.

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Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage (album) review

I’m probably in the minority on this one, but lucky for me I don’t really care. When I found out Avenged was releasing an album in 2016, I was hyped, as their previous records (starting from their self-titled release) are some of my favorite albums I listen to.

And then they released The Stage. I was a bit confused about the title, but I did get a bit of a concept album feel when I listened to the first verses. And my first impression of the song had something to do with the vocals. I mean, my first thought was “Shadows forgot how to sing…either that or he can’t sing anymore”. I don’t know what technique he’s been using throughout this album…but it’s bad, it sounds like someone is strangling him at times! Seriously, listen to the 3rd act of the song, right before the last chorus, what is going on with his voice there?

Ugh, anyway, instrumentally this song is brilliant, Syn is doing an amazing job on the guitar as is expected of him. But vocally and lyrically? It’s a bloody atrocity. To sum it up, Avenged Sevenfold apparently took to angsty edgy teenagers as inspiration for the lyrics for not only this song, but for 3 of the first 4 songs of the album! Seriously, why on Earth did they think the community of people who post opinions on imgur and 9gag right after jerking themselves off to half naked pictures of celebrities is the place to look for inspiration for ANY SONG? Seriously, go read the lyrics, I am not going to dignify them here, I don’t want to promote things I utterly hate. To add to the melodramatic and angsty teenage vibe of this clip, the video of it is centered around the idea that we are all just puppets that are controlled by their leaders, who in turn are also controlled by someone else. You want to know what the funny part of all of this is? They actually think they are clever and upfront about it. While being upfront, it comes across as distasteful and angsty, two characteristics which are a big turnoff for me.

Moving on, I did not know what to expect from Paradigm, the second song on the album. This one is the exact opposite of the first one. It’s fast paced, has a very good chorus and it touches on the idea of merging humans and computers. But it does so in a very tasteful manner, starting with the idea that because you’re breaking down because of your human limitations, you may want to take this route in order to become basically a super human. It has good lyrics, a very good solo and one of the best choruses they have written.

With my hopes up after Paradigm, I started listening to Sunny Disposition. And my hopes for the album plummeted again. Once again, the instrumental for the song is brilliant, the trumpets on the chorus are an amazing touch. But the lyrics are even worse than in The Stage. Well, maybe not worse, but just as cringey. Take these for example: “I’d make a decision if granted the privilege / But I’m afraid my taste is unrefined / And no one likes cheap wine”. As much as I like Avenged Sevenfold, I wouldn’t listen to ANYTHING these guys would say with regards to running a country, for the same reason I don’t listen to any celebrity when it comes to issues concerning the regular people: they are so out of touch with the day to day life, they can’t possibly understand the struggles of 9-5 people.

My hopes already down, I listened to God Damn, to which they have also released a video. This one steals some of the lyrical ideas straight from Stairway to Heaven. Go read the lyrics to see what I am talking about. While not quite as cringey as previous two atrocities, it still comes short in some aspects. Mostly because I think they have used the lyrics as a sort of metaphor for world governments, because we’ve not had enough celebrities discuss this subject now, have we?

All right, I can’t do every song without people getting bored, so let’s summarize the album and its 2 major themes: “society is falling apart, bro” and “space and AI which we briefly use in 3 or 4 songs”. While listening to the album, I’ve noticed that the AI themed songs are brilliant (Paradigm, Creating God, Fermi Paradox and even Exist) while the other ones suck very badly. And I couldn’t help but wonder why, until I found out that the band had some discussions with Neil deGrasse Tyson prior to releasing this album. And it all became very clear to me as to why the AI themed songs are so good. So I’m guessing the band thought something between the lines of: “So, we got Neil deGrasse Tyson to help us with these AI songs. We need a source just as good for political and societal issues. I’ve seen these radical ideas in the comment section of 9gag and imgur. We should totally use them!”. And the end result was this album, a cavalcade of melodramatic songs mixed with brilliant ones that somehow manage to keep whatever was left of the band’s credibility alive.

I’ve seen people bash Hail to the King. Well let me tell you something. Hail to the King was an honest album. It knew what it wanted to be. A hard rock album, tribute to the bands that inspired Avenged Sevenfold. The Stage is one of those albums in which the band try too hard to be upfront, resulting in cringey lyrics, weird (to say the least) vocals and an overall vibe of “what the f**k were they thinking with this”. And when an artist needs to write a post about HOW you need to listen to an album before you begin to like it (yeah…this is a thing), much like when you need to explain a joke…it’s a bad album.

Guess the Song: Railroad

In this series, I am going to take a song and try to re-tell it in the form of a story, based of course on the lyrics of the original song. The idea is of course to guess the original song behind the story 🙂

It was beginning to look like a sunny day and the cool air of the mountain area was very refreshing. Jim however would not be very impressed by it. As soon as dawn struck, he heard the whistle meant to wake everyone up in order to get to work. After all, the railroad that went through the mountains surronding them was not going to build itself.

Jim, along with many of his own kind, was being forced to work on this railroad for a pay of two pence per day. People chose to spend the money in very different ways. Some of them would buy cigarrettes, others would buy an extra portion of food, while he chose to save one penny, while the other was spent on the only thing that seemed to keep him at least a bit sane: alcohol. He seemed a good fit for job when one would glance at him: with a height of approximately 1.95 meters and a very muscular body due to all the housework he used to put in, he had the required human force to get the job done, with also a bit of energy left to help out his comrades who were falling behind. His well worn jeans and white undershirt seemed to tell all the bad moments he went through ever since he was dragged into this operation.

He’d been working on the railroad for a very long time and with each passing day it seemed he was getting closer and closer to madness. His eyes however always let out hope. He knew that someday all this would be over. The only requirement was that he manage to keep himself alive and away from any suicidal temptations. To make sure he kept his spirits up in more ways than just drowning himself in booze, he would always groom his hair and beard whenever he had the time, in order to remind himself he was still human.

Upon hearing the wake up call, he decided to lay down a bit more and almost instantly found himself in the loving arms of his girl Kathy. Kathy was a 1.70m tall girl with long, red curly hair and blue eyes. They had a special spot beneath an age old tree where they would usually hang out. It was a very peaceful place as it was outside the living area and peace and quiet were at a premium. It allowed them to dream about going away from the rural area they’ve grown up in and try to find a better life in the city, as his brother managed to. Jim would always figure he’d live all his troubles behind by telling them he’s far away in a better place, along with his beloved Kathy.

His dream is cut short by the first rays of sunlight of the day waking him up. He picked up his tools and put out the fire which kept him warm through the night. As the ashes went through the air, he got a familiar vibe he has not seen in a while, that of the snow falling.

The mountain next to the camp site was the first place of landform Jim and the guys had seen in months. Unfortunately for them, the trains needed a place to go, and around the mountain was not a good option. So they planted some sticks of dynamite in order to blow a hole through it. The process of course would be a long one, since the mountain was pretty big. And with each hole, Jim felt the hole in his soul get bigger and bigger. And as the people were edging closer and closer to the end of the mountain, disaster happened, as some falling rocks claimed the lives of four workmen. Jim survived this incident, and thus began the process of burying his fallen comrades, a sight all too well known for such projects sadly. As the sun was shining down, the heat was causing extreme dehydration to even the strongest of workers. Jim found himself in the arms of Kathy once again, her kisses taking him from the rubble and hell of the railroad he’d been working on for so long. Sadly though, it was just another hallucination, and Jim was brought back to reality by the captain of the workers. He allowed himself another fantasy about running away to a far away place with Kathy and letting his workers and friends know about it before getting back to work.

Months that seemed liked decades past and the dreaded railroad was taking more and more shape. Jim was beginning to lose hope of ever getting out of this project ever again and the idea of ending it all was growing bigger by the day. It didn’t help that someone mentioned that, judging by his calculations, it was Christmas day, though no trees could be seen for miles on end. The workers started wondering if they could make it one more day. So far, their only will and motivation to keep going was seeing Jim working through heat, rain and snow. But now with his will dying inside, everyone was starting to contemplate if ending it all for themselves would be easier. Their dark thoughts were interrupted when their captain said 5 words that seemed better than any extra money: “Your work here is done.”

People were in awe. A few of them started crying. Jim, who was staring blankly at his last railroad piece he had just put down, didn’t fully grasp the news at first. But when one of his closest friends came to him and thanked him for all his help during these last months, he finally realized what was happening. He was free, free to go home and leave this place one and for all. The long journey home turned out to be easier since the railroad company offered to transport the remaining workers to their hometowns. And as Jim walked down the main road of his village, a sight that he had hoped would not expect him at home unraveled. Due to a massive flood, many homes have been wrecked. He started running towards his house and found it destroyed by the same flood.

It was at this moment that Jim’s spirit finally broke down. He started crying, because after all the time he had spent away from his home, the only thing that kept him from killing himself was this very day, the day he would finally return home. Were the hallucinations actually Kathy’s spirit from beyond? Was there any point to all of this? What is he to do now? He picked himself up and started searching through the remains of his house. Some neighbours tried consoling him, but he ushered them away. And just as all hope seemed lost, he found something in what used to be his kitchen. There was a note that survived the disaster. And the note was written by Kathy. She said that she found some shelter in the woods and that is where Jim found her. She was considerably thinner because of the lack of food caused by the flood, but she was still as beautiful as ever. Jim fell on his knees and hugged her. They both looked at each other and started laughing and crying at the same time.

Jim then started telling her about all the hardships he went through and all the horrors he endured. After a good two hours of reminiscing of everything they both endured, Jim told Kathy about his idea of leaving the village behind and trying to make a life for themselves in the city. Kathy was a bit concerned at first, but Jim assured her that they would find a way to survive. After all, Jim managed to put away a few pennies after all his time away. Adding that to what they had already saved before, it would help them get to the city, and given that he and his brother were pretty close when growing up, they would have a place to live.

Kathy agreed, as any place would be better to live than their broken house. They went back to their home to see if there was anything else salvageable. They found some clothes which they took with them. And while Kathy was packing their stuff, Jim took the time to write a note to whoever would want to know where he’s gone. After they were both finished, they left…and never looked back.

The art of shutting up

Celebrities tend to make making fun of them so easy at times. They also make getting the cringe easier too. There seems to be this high held belief among these people that their fans want to hear their beliefs, especially their societal and political ones. Lately I’ve been noticing a trend among music artists of releasing songs or albums in which they take a dig at…their bloody audience for the most part. Katy Perry recently released a song called “Chained to the Rhythm” or something. I was sadistic enough to listen to one or two verses from it, a chorus AND a clip from a guy called Buckley on Youtube where he dissects the song and pokes fun at it.

The fact that I am writing a post about this is entirely my fault. I asked for it the moment I listened to it. In the song, Katy abuses of the current societal trend of throwing the word “bubble” in every other sentence, in an attempt to make people aware of bad events happening around the world, like mindlessly disrupting everyone with your stupid sh*t is going to accomplish anything other than you not getting invited to social gatherings. She also says that listening to music in clubs while you are living in said bubble is bad. Now one can make the assumption that Katy Perry’s music is not destined for clubs or parties…except one can’t since such music about kissing girls and seeing other people’s peacocks is meant to be played IN CLUBS AND AT PARTIES! *sudden realisation*

It’s not like this is specific to a certain genre, though. Metallica released a new album last year and the lead single and title track of it, called Hardwired…to self destruct has one of the most pathetic attempts at making people aware, with genius lyrics that go: “We’re so f**ked / Sh*t outta luck/ Hardwired…to self destruct”. Listen, I’ve tried my hand at lyric writing and I ain’t very good at it. It’s hard to write lyrics. But when you are held by some as the pinnacle of metal music and then release a song with those lyrics…you get the idea, right?

And don’t even get me started on Avenged Sevenfold’s “The Stage” single…that whole album deserves a separate post actually. Suffice it to say that I thought I heard the worst with Hardwired. And I was wrong on so many levels…

Mark Twain has a wonderful saying: “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt”. Some celebrities should really look into it and make use of it. Each and every time a band or artist made some political remarks, I checked the comments section of that particular post. And contrary to their belief, there weren’t that many people who supported such posts. And you might say that they’re entitled to sing about what they want. And that much is true. But you either do it from the start or do it right (see: Rage Against The Machine and Rise Against and any respectable punk band) or you don’t do it at all. Otherwise you come across as pathetic and unoriginal. Bashing leaders without offering any solutions is one of the easiest ways in which you can whore for approval on social media.

And telling your audience to basically go screw themselves? There is only one person I know of who successfully pulled this off, in a live concert nonetheless. You wanna know who that person was? Freddie Mercury…and even he did it after the audience was able to keep up with his vocal exercises. And he did it as a joke. Others actually want to be taken seriously…

The state of music (the “wrong generation” syndrome)

If you’ve been anywhere near an old music video on Youtube (the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Depeche Mode etc.) and make the mistake of your life by deciding to go in the comments section, you’ll notice a lot of people going on and on about how they were born in the “wrong generation”, because during the times of said bands, the state of music was better than it is today. After all, there weren’t any Katy Perrys, Taylor Swifts, Adeles and such back then. Or were there? OF COURSE THERE WERE! Want a hint? Check out the disco era of the 70s and 80s…

When it comes to music, there is no such thing as the wrong generation. People have this idea that during the times of Freddie Mercury, James Hetfield in his prime, Robert Plant in his prime and so on, their bands were popular and played on the radio. They’re wrong. I mean they received airplay, but they weren’t the most popular ones. Dig up any charts from the 80s and 90s and, while you may find said rock/good music bands there, they won’t be on the top of the charts. Just because you listen to them doesn’t make them popular. And even nowadays you have bands just as good.

My personal favorite bands, aside from Queen, are Rise Against and Avenged Sevenfold. The latter two are actually fairly well-known and have had world tours for quite some years now. But are they anywhere near the top of the Billboard Top 100 chart? No…they are not. You can go to the Billboard Top 100 website and check for yourself. Wanna bet that 20-30 years from now people will be thinking they were born in the wrong generation because back in the day these two bands were popular?

There is no “wrong generation”. As a guy called Buckley said in a video in which he talks about this, you are actually born in the “right generation”. The reason is that you actually have access to old and new music at the same time, meaning you can enjoy the music of the old without sacrificing the music of the new.

In the end, I think people need to realize that music wise, it wasn’t really better in the past when it comes to music on the radio or on TV. Charts will always favor catchy pop songs for a very simple reason: they are catchy. People can’t get them out of their head and there are actually patterns and algorithms which can help you make your song more catchy. Just enjoy your favorite type of music, old and new.