Sunday Sesh – Mercurial Moods
Hail, friends. As some of you may be aware, I’ve been on vacation for over a week now. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll be on the road back home to return to reality. This Sunday Sesh, then, is born from a conversation I had yesterday with our own inimitable Leif Bearikson over some beers and weird bar music. As the two of us, both on time off, sat at a lakeside bar and discussed metal, politics, and getting older, we noted that both of us have been in a doom mood this year. That isn’t to say that I no longer have interest in the metal I love; in fact, I’m probably still more likely to click play on something avant-garde or experimental on Toilet Tuesday than I am a random doom metal link, but for a decent chunk of 2016, I’ve found myself returning over and over again to many doom and devotional albums. Undoubtedly many of you also experience these mood swings in the metal you primarily enjoy. Today we’re hashing that out.
Before we dive into the meat of the conversation here, I’d like to offer this little demo to sate your earthirst and to bring you up to speed with my current mood. This demo, the preview from an upcoming release from Chant of the Goddess, has the perfect tone and crushing warmth for some summertime doom.
There, now that we’re on the same level, allow me a moment to conjecture about these metal moods. In 2015, I found myself listening primarily to black metal of varying hues and shades. There was something about the scabrous extremity that just resonated with me. Maybe it was a sort of violent inner rebellion against the state of the world, but something just clicked with me. The year before, as I was finishing a tumultuous period of intense academic work, it was dissonant death metal that most resonated with my mind. In the shifting, seething rhythms and unexpected riffs, I found a counterpoint for how stressed and frustrated I felt.
Fast forward to this year, I find myself most drawn to the cyclical patterns and dark ambiance of doom and devotional metal. Bands like Blood of the Black Owl and Hipoxia, with their recursive riffs and mantra-esque chants, have resonated with me for more than even old favorites like Gorguts (though I have by no means forgotten the face of my dissonant fathers). In seeking an explanation for this change in mood, I have postulated three possible catalysts:
1). I know that a period of great upheaval as my wife and I change cities and uproot our lives in the city I’ve lived in for the last ten years is right around the corner, so perhaps I’m subconsciously seeking music that is more predictable and, in some ways, grounded.
2). The state of the world seems to be rapidly deteriorating as the spiral’s oscillations become even more distended, so perhaps I’m subconsciously seeking music that is more cyclical as a form of reassurance that all the chaos in the pendulum swing must eventually level out.
3). I’ve also been drawn to horror movies and frightening literature this year, so perhaps I’m subconsciously seeking music that proffers the same sort of thrill and terror that acts as a counterbalance to the mundane predictability of a salary job and day-in-day-out monotony.
In truth, my reason for enjoying doom more of late could be a mixture of all three reasons and even more opposing ideals. It may seem strange to seek doom both for predictability and adrenaline-spiking, but our tastes are so often predicated on a bizarre milieu of prevailing paradigms, personal experience, emotional state, external relationships, etc. that it can be hard to cite merely one cause for a particular humor. It is therefore not a willful act of cognitive dissonance to embrace one particular genre over another for seemingly conflicting reasons if the ultimate impetus that sets the boulder rolling is a combination of all the forces, external and internal, surrounding you.
Undoubtedly, you too have felt this shift in moods. I’ve noticed it in the comments both here and in the Facebook group. Raw black metal for one season may yield to crust punk in another, or post metal for one stage of life may be usurped by death metal in the next. Assuredly, your own reasons for your changing moods are as complex as my own, but perhaps you could set form a hypothesis if you reflected a bit. Doing so may even prove the validity of your own taste, as good art, the art that resonates and reflects, should cause us to look inward and ponder where we are and why we do what we do.
So tell me, what are you listening to now, and why are you listening to it?