New Music Is Available!

So … when I’m not writing, it seems, I’m writing music. Whilst The Redemption of Erâth has been on pause for a few months, I’ve been revisiting some music I created between 2019 and 2021 – an album of symphonic metal called Despair.

Recently, I upgraded the orchestral sample libraries I use, and re-recorded all five tracks of the album using EastWest’s phenomenal samples and sound engine. Whilst the final result may not sound exactly like a live orchestra, it’s (in my mind, at least) pretty damn close.

So without further ado, I present to you: Despair, a suite of orchestral heavy metal in five parts, channeling the deepest, darkest emotions of human nature!

1: Depression

Depression is the first track from Despair, opening with quiet strings and horns, building to crescendo before the crushing heaviness of the metal band comes crashing in. Segueing to a softer, melodic verse section, things eventually take off with pounding guitars and drums, intertwining a full orchestra through rises and falls until a heavier recapitulation brings us to the outro – soft and quiet again, building into a sudden wall of orchestral noise and a thundering drum punctuation that leaves on a cliffhanger, waiting for the next track.

2: Anger

Bursting in with furious strings and brass, Anger ups the pace and energy tenfold, a full orchestra blasting away until dropping out suddenly to allow for the metal band to take over with churning, grinding riffs. Never giving in to a slower beat, the song carries forward in a kind of scherzo-and-trio format, building to a climax before a middle section that leads again with devastating riffs, before recapitulating to the opening. Finally drawing to close with every instrument at full tilt, Anger is a crushing ode to unbridled fury.

3: Fear

Opening with a rumbling, unsettled bass line, Fear is deliberately the most disjointed piece of the suite, wavering between numerous time and key signatures throughout. There are moments of melody interspersed between longer passages of chromatic atonality, but the overall mood is one of anxiety and unsettled, indescribable fearfulness.

4: Grief

Almost entirely orchestral (the band comes in only briefly at the very climax of the piece), Grief takes us through a journey of pathos and heartbreak, with sweeping strings and devastating horn lines drawing influence from the raw emotion of the greatest of classical composers – Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and more. From the soft, distant opening to the thundering timpani that bring the song to a heaving climax of sadness, Grief will tug at your heartstrings and (hopefully) give you chills at all the rights moments.

5: Despair

The epic conclusion and title track, Despair opens with a hammering timpani roll and huge, crashing chords from the band and full orchestra – nearly a full two minutes of opening to a 20-minute track that winds through many layers of instrumentation before coming to a quiet close halfway-through, only to burst back into life with grand horns and strings sustaining the melody over churning guitar riffs. Through a varied development we finally return to a grand reprise of the opening, announced with a huge gong crash, before moving on to the closing of the song, and the album, with a revisiting of the very opening of Depression, bringing the full album to a close.

When It All Comes Crashing Down

Do you ever have those moments in life where everything seems to come crashing down at once? When both your internal and external world just seem to fail you, and you’re left reeling in the void with nothing to grasp, no frame of reference to center you, and suddenly it seems like you’re free-falling into the pits of despair?

Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know.

I feel that way right now, for a number of reasons, both – as I mentioned above – internal and external. On the personal side, I’m feeling a little let down and disappointed; without going into too much detail, I’d been building myself up for a social event that didn’t turn out the way I expected, and it’s left me feeling depressed and lonely. As I forced myself to put away the drinks and snacks that no one touched, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point of it all is; why people put so much effort into things that others just … just really don’t care that much about.

The same could be said of so many things in my life; I pour my blood, sweat and tears into writing stories that no one reads, and those that do often don’t even like. I slave away at my day job, and wonder at the end of each day who would miss me if I just didn’t show up the next. So often I just exist, day-to-day, and I’m left wondering why I bother.

I feel hurt, and disillusioned. And the stresses pile up on top of that. The other day my son was in a car accident (no major injuries, thank goodness), but the stress of dealing with insurance, and repairs, and quotes … I can’t face it. I have a call to make for this that I’ve been postponing for four days. I don’t know where the money’s going to come from if the insurance doesn’t pay out, or what’s going to happen to our premiums.

And then there’s the world, and everything that’s wrong with it.

I’ve spent this entire past week in a vapid stupor, sleeping most of each day away in bed or on the couch, not getting anything done that I wanted or hoped to. It’s been a week off from work – a vacation that didn’t pan out – and I’ve completely squandered it. I go back to work tomorrow, and I don’t want to do that, either.

I was talking to my wife about it, and she sort of threw her hands up and said she’s done all she can. She tried to tell me I should approach it differently, with a different mindset … which feels like the worst advice you can possibly give someone who’s depressed. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, but I don’t think she really understands depression – at least, not the kind I suffer from – and thinks it’s all quite selfish. She said that even when she’s been horribly depressed she never stopped being considerate for others, and it helped bring her out of it.

There is no ”coming out of it”. It doesn’t work like that. Depression literally is a mindset. It’s how you think, not something external that afflicts you – not something that can be cured with the right drugs or therapy. The meds help, certainly – but they’re not the answer. For over twenty years I’ve never been able to explain this to her. The only way for me to come out of this depression is for it to run its natural course, and what I need is not help – I don’t need a fix – I need support to weather it. I need empathy, not sympathy, and I need someone to understand that right now, I’m hurting.

Sometimes I wish people could understand. I wish they could realize that what I need is someone to validate me, to say it’s okay to be depressed, it’s okay to get nothing done for a week or two. Someone to tell me that I’m not worth less because I don’t do things. I feel like sometimes my worth is only ever measured in what I’m able to produce – whether for work, or at home, or in my creative endeavors – and if I don’t – or can’t – produce, then I’m essentially worthless.

And it doesn’t help to tell myself these things, because of course I don’t believe myself. I feel like a fraud, full of shit and lazy – a mentality indoctrinated into me from a very young age.

So here I sit, miserable and depressed, with no one around to tell me it’s going to be okay. And at the end of it all, I know I’ll probably be fine, but it doesn’t help to get through it in the moment.

Damn, I hate myself.

I’m Probably Not Going to Do Anything

Once again, the nation is reeling in the wake of a school shooting.

Only we’re not really, because it happened again.

Once again, we send our thoughts and prayers into the ether.

Only it doesn’t quite mean what it used to, because it happened again.

Once again, the left attacks the right for insufficient gun control, and the right attacks the left for not allowing teachers to defend themselves.

Only no one really cares, because it happened again.

And no one pays attention to what matters: children died horrifically violently, and their parents are left with a void in their souls that will never, ever be filled.

How many times have we chanted ’never again’? How many times have we vowed for change – on all sides – only to turn around to see it happen over, and over, and over again. There’s no sadness left; no tears, no fury, no righteous anger at the world that allows this to happen, because it seems that, finally, we’ve just … given up. It won’t change. Children will continue to die in schools, and I predict with 100% certainty that it will happen again before the year is out. Hell, perhaps even before the month is out.

And why am I so certain? Well … probably because I’m not going to do anything about it. I’ll talk about it for a few days, then go back to my life. I’ll read about it in the news for next few weeks, and then it will fade away. Only the families affected will really care for any meaningful amount of time, and if they try to do anything about it, they’ll probably be shut down, targeted, called ’crisis actors’, or even threatened. Only the families will be left with tragedy that you never, ever get over.

Because in this country, we’ve become so incredibly desensitized to it that it outright fails to leave any indelible mark on our collective psyche. The last crisis that I can recall united the nation under mourning was the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 – and that was over twenty years ago. Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, and now Ulvade; what does it day that I had to Google one of those, because I remembered it happening but couldn’t remember where? The Wikipedia entry on school shootings – since 2000 alone – is too long to scroll through. It sanitarily describes where the shootings took place, how many were killed and how many were injured, and a rundown of the events themselves. It’s as distant from the horror of a schoolroom massacre as you can get.

This is my reality. This is what I live with every day, week, month and year. I live with the knowledge that well, it’s just going to happen again, and nothing’s ever going to change, so how can I feel anything about it? How can I be upset, when there is so much upset to go around? I have to protect myself in the only way I know how – by tuning it out and pretending it doesn’t affect me.

Until it happens all over again.

Maybe one day – one day – this country will band together to understand that guns do not belong in the hands of civilians. The fear that has been mongered for centuries around violent crime has led to far-too-accessible access to firearms, and it has led to a wide part of the population believing if they don’t have guns, they’ll be at the mercy of ‘bad guys’ who do.

Well, here’s the thing: I would far rather die, defenseless in my own home, than see my own guns used to murder children. I would rather see a small number of civilian deaths occur, isolated and infrequent, than mass shootings take place every single day. It works in England; it works in France. It works in almost every country in the world.

IT CAN WORK HERE.

Except it won’t. It won’t, because politics and people in power will ensure it can’t. So long as there’s money in fear, we will continue to live in fear; fear of the nameless, unknown perpetrator who might enter our homes (and therefore we need our guns), and subsequently our children will live in fear that they might die in school.

I just can’t anymore.

I give up.

I probably won’t do anything, because right now, it feels like there’s nothing to be done.

It’s sad.