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Years ago, I made a critical comment about Metallica to a friend of mine.  It was something along the lines of: I didn’t understand their musical direction anymore. My friend suggested that I was being too doctrinaire. I’ve been thinking about that for a long time. For me, it’s always been Kill Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and And Justice for All. I liked Metallica (the black album) well enough; though, I thought the vision for that album was mostly about making the music simpler in order to facilitate commercial success and mega-stardom for the band.  After that, I didn’t pay attention to them. Load was a load. St. Anger had potential but seemed very uneven and kind of thrown together. The rest since then I’ve done without.

Are you kidding me?

This last week, I looked up some of the bands I haven’t listened to in years, including Metallica, and now I remember why. Country?* Opera? Okay. On one hand, I like that. It’s weird to have a bunch of guys who used to write songs about Cthulhu, retribution, witches, and serial killers do something entitled “Mama Said” with twangy steel guitars and Stetsons. I like that in a perverse kind of way (though I wished there could have been at least a small human sacrifice going on in the background of the video).

On the other hand, I really, really tried to like Death Magnetic. But after exploring it and thinking carefully about the songs, I had to conclude there was something missing. It has never felt anything but soulless to me—and not in a good Lovecraftian sort of way. It’s like they were trying hard to recapture some of their early sound. Without a doubt, they’re highly capable musicians. But it felt cold, technical, overproduced, and uninspired the way “Fuel” always feels—like I’m hearing Metallica Revisited, like they’re now a tribute band to their earlier selves.

So today, sitting at my computer, thinking, well if I’m going to be doctrinaire, then let me be doctrinaire, I clicked on a YouTube copy of Machine Head’s The Blackening and nearly leapt out of my chair. THIS. THIS was what I felt when I first heard “The Four Horsemen.” Machine Head isn’t trying to sound like early Metallica, but sometimes they do.  And they have that same edge—a certain emotional authenticity along with the technical precision. It was something Metallica once brought to rock.  I think it’s gone to others now.

* Apparently this is on Load and I simply disbelieved / edited it out of my conscious awareness back when I first listened to the album.  I’m sure there’s a repressed memory of hearing it somewhere back there.

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“To educate is to seek meaning in everything. It is to teach others to seek the meaning of things. This means mixing the dreams of children and young people with the experience of adults and the elderly. This exchange must always take place, or else there can be no humanity because there would be no roots, no history, no promise, no growth, and no prophecy.”

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“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery—isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”

― Charles Bukowski, Factotum

“La lecture est un acte d’identification, les sentiments exprimés sont déjà en nous. Autrement, le livre nous tombe des mains.”

— Madeleine Chapsal

“Time is said to be irreversible. And this is true enough in the sense that ‘you can’t bring back the past’. But what exactly is this ‘past’? Is it what has passed? And what does ‘passed’ mean for a person when for each of us the past is the bearer of all that is constant in the reality of the present, of each current moment? In a certain sense the past is far more real, or at any rate more stable, more resilient than the present. The present slips and vanishes like sand between the fingers, acquiring material weight only in its recollection. King Solomon’s ring bore the inscription, ‘All will pass’; by contrast, I want to draw attention to how time in its moral implication is in fact turned back. Time can vanish without trace in our material world for it is a subjective, spiritual category. The time we have lived settles in our soul as an experience placed within time.”

— Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time