Mort Stone Muses on Music
Apologies on the missed posts this week, illness has hit myself and my kids quite hard over the last two weeks. That being said, Mort Stone sent me a rather superb article on music that he wrote so I thought I'd share it here.
There is more to life than horror books and movies, isn't there? Like music to go in those horror movies and to jam to while we write those books!
Blown Away: Music
Most people love music. It is a part of our lives, and it is a part of our souls.
Whether we connect it to memories – good or bad – or if we can appreciate the talent and artistry behind it, it can be therapeutic, emotional and magical, all in one. And like all forms of art, it is subjective: Some people will like something while others will not connect to it at all.
These days we are spoiled for choice. If you are a rocker (like me), it is possible to stream only rock music, and that goes for every genre of music. And I will admit it, as my wife so often reminds me, I am particular about my music.
Since pop music doesn’t do much for me, and I don’t find myself in an environment where I can work (or write, like some authors) with music in the background, it is becoming rarer and rarer for me to discover new music that blows me away.
When it does happen, though, there is this moment of pure and utter ecstasy. Or it is something that will stay for you for much longer than anything else you might listen to. In the end, though, we all want to find something that blows us away.
I am not going to go back too far in time with this, for I can write thousands of words on BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY by Queen or a lot of the Beatles songs. This is an article on music I discovered in the last three years (though they might be older) that fits the description. This excludes the last one, which gets an honorable mention here. And, for the record, I don’t even like all of them.
I hope I can point you in the direction of something that will do the same for you.
1. THE DEATH OF PEACE OF MIND – BAD OMENS
Whether you want to describe them as a rock band or a metalcore band (the second in my opinion), I have never heard of them until the beginning of the year. Quite by accident, I happened to hear a song on the radio which I liked but wasn’t my usual taste. I looked them up on YouTube and when I saw the title of this track, it spoke to me.
It is experimental for their genre, and I can only applaud them for taking the risk, because it paid off big time. The slow, melodic, almost sexy in a haunting sort of way start asks for your patience as the song develops. The music video is spectacular, dark and disturbing – I’ve heard SQUID GAME referenced a number of times – and even a little transgressive, but it fits the song and the atmosphere perfectly.
A little after the halfway mark, the tone changes, and everything calms, but you know what is coming. And when it delivers, you will get goosebumps, guaranteed. It gives you that moment, perfect after the long build-up, and it blew my mind.
The entire album is really impressive, and I can highly recommend LIKE A VILLAIN, NOWHERE TO GO, THE GRAY and JUST PRETEND. This song, however, is as perfect as anything I’ve ever heard. It spoke to me the first time I heard it, and it still speaks to me today.
2. FOR EVIGT – VOLBEAT
The video I chose is a live version of this song, and there is a reason for that. I discovered this Danish band a few years ago and I am a huge fan of their music. Whether it be the Johnny Cash type intro for SAD MAN’S TONGUE or the reggae start of the song STILL COUNTING, all followed by the heavy rock sounds the band is known for, they are my go-to band when I need that adrenaline boost.
FOR EVIGT is a multilingual song which features another Danish singer called Johan Olsen, who belts out the gravelly Danish lyrics. This video is a live performance recorded in 2017 and I am guessing that it was the finale, because it was spectacular.
Not only is this recording and editing superbly done, but the vocals is magnificent and the instruments – which also features acoustic guitar and a banjo – is on point. While I loved this song since the first time I heard it, this live version makes me wish I was there to experience it.
And, yes, thank you for asking, the title translates to “Forever”.
Follow the Bliss!
3. THE MOCKINGBIRD AND THE CROW – HARDY
I am going to start off by saying I am not a country fan. And if it was not for the very brilliant JACK that caught my ear on the radio, I probably would not have known anything about Hardy. And for those of you who are unaware, this is a guy who started to blend rock and country with this album.
I’ve heard people refer to him as the new Kid Rock, which leaves an uncomfortable taste in my mouth, since I was not a fan of the Kid.
In my opinion, Hardy is far superior to KR, because his tunes are super catchy, he’s a great lyricist and, man, his voice can give most rockers a go. What’s the hardest country song you’ve heard? Check out SOLD OUT (Wall To Wall Rock Video).
Which brings me to the title track on the album. This is the song he wrote to make the transition between the two genres. Believe me, if you are not a country fan, push through the first half of this song, until you come to the almost Seether vibe of the song.
But more than that, the message of this song is what really got me. He starts off (as a mockingbird) doing what needs to be done – “Singing songs that sounds like other songs you’ve heard” – to get his foot in the door, even if it means conforming. But now he wants to be creative and do his own thing. And all the people in charge is against it, telling him it will never work, but he needs to be his own person – “Even if that makes me the crow” – who does music the way he wants to do it.
And this is the journey for creative people, right? Get rich by selling your soul or stay poor by being true to yourself.
This is one of those songs that makes me want to persist. Yes, I write a little and I would love to get my stories out into the world, but it is not an easy journey and sometimes it is easier to just talk myself out of doing or saying something the way I want to, because it would never be publishable or have an audience. When I listen to this, it gives me that little boost I need to not give up on the dream.
And the music video – Claymation – is very entertaining as well.
4. HI REN – REN
This is a unique song to put on here, because I honestly don’t really like it. But it messes with my head that no song has done before. I saw this mentioned in a feed and the high praise it received, so I listened to it. Or tried to. About two minutes into this I stopped and just thought this is not my taste at all.
I didn’t go back to this song for three weeks, but I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Something just kept nagging me about it. When I finally gave in and listened to it in full, I did not change my opinion. It still wasn’t for me.
And about a week later I told my wife she had to watch it, because I couldn’t understand how this thing had lodged itself in my brain. I think my exact words may have been:
“I don’t know what this song is. Yes, the guy is talented, but it is like a psychotic rap. I don’t know how to define it, but it is…art?”
I am going to leave it there and let you judge for yourself.
No, I still don’t like it, but it is stuck in my head, and I can’t get it out. And for being able to do that, this song deserves a spot on this list.
5. CHOP SUEY – HALOCENE, LAUREN BABIC, VIOLET ORLANDI
We all strive for originality, and I am not a big fan of covers. And when I liked the original song, it is super hard to impress me with a cover of that song.
I need to point out here that I considered THE SOUND OF SILENCE by Disturbed for this spot, a song that is just as good if not better than the original, but I was already a fan of Disturbed long before they released it.
However, if you told me about two years ago that a System of a Down song will be covered by female singers and they will blow it out of the water, I would probably have recommended a fresh dose of dried frog pills.
I have not heard of any of these artists before this song came onto my radar but dah-yim, these ladies not only managed to make the absolute perfect cover of one of my favorite metal songs, but they made it melodic as well.
They also did a cover (with First to Eleven) of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY that is brilliant in its own right, but this one is just miles above any cover I have ever heard before.
Give it a listen, you will not be disappointed.
6. SOMEONE YOU LOVED – LEWIS CAPALDI
This one caught me completely off guard. I hope I managed to include the original music video, because this played a large part in what makes this one unforgettable. I saw the beginning of the music video and thought I recognized the actor.
It turns out that Peter Capaldi is a famous British actor (I think I read somewhere that he might have been Dr. Who for a time) and the singer is his nephew. When Lewis started to sing, I thought he had a beautiful tone and, though I might be a rocker at heart, I can still appreciate talent.
The song is really beautiful and heartbreaking, but when I got to the end of the video, I choked up. I am not just saying that as an impact statement. I literally had tears running down my face. It kind of broke me.
And damn it, when my wife got home, I just had to show it to her and, lo and behold, I was bawling again at the end. Not a smooth move, I know, but imagine my wife’s shock. She’d never seen me cry about anything I saw on television before – mostly because I know when to excuse myself and find something else to do – and while she thought it was really good, it didn’t seem to touch her the same way.
I am not judging her. So, if you haven’t seen this, watch it and see if you are dead inside, too!
No, I honestly don’t know if I would have been that emotional if I’d known what was coming, and just by recommending it I might be taking away a lot of the impact, but this one is my request for my funeral song.
7. WOLF TOTEM – THE HU FEAT. JACOBY SHADDIX
You might not know who Jacoby Shaddix is or even recognize him immediately from the music video, but he is the lead singer of the band Papa Roach, of LAST RESORT fame.
The HU (I looked it up, it means “Human”) is a Mongolian folk metal band, and they do Mongolian throat singing. If you are not familiar, listen to the song and you might get the idea. Then try it without actually choking yourself and you might realize just how difficult it is to get that sound.
There is an original WOLF TOTEM, with just The Hu – listen to it after you’ve listened to this version.
Shaddix managed to life this song with his contribution to something truly unique and memorable. I’ve heard a few more recent collaborations of this band with rock and metal singers on different songs, but none of them have the impact that this one did.
This is an impressive introduction to a worldwide audience for this band, and while I have liked some of the newer songs, I doubt very much that any of them will live up to this one.
8. GIVEN UP – LINKIN PARK
Chester Beddington was a unique voice in the sense that, even though he could belt it out, there was still this emotional vulnerability under the rage. I was a fan from the very first song I’ve heard of this band – ONE STEP CLOSER – and I absolutely loved their softer music as much as their heavier stuff. NUMB remains one of the best songs about a dysfunctional child/parent relationship I’ve ever heard.
Now, I am not going to address the trauma of his childhood (although I have read about some of it) and what would eventually lead to him taking his own life. But he was someone who left a mark on this world.
GIVEN UP is a heavy song, musically and lyrically, and something all people who suffer from depression can relate to, but the magic of this song comes after the two-minute mark. There is a 17 second scream in there.
For those who are unfamiliar, it is not a melodic note held for 17 seconds, it is a gut wrenching, from the bowels of your soul scream for longer than any set of human lungs are supposed to be able to handle. It is an achievement of endurance that will be remember for longer than most of us will probably live.
Give it a listen and admire it.
I am going to end the list here. If this article manages to point you in the direction of even one new song that you end up loving, it has done its job. Tell your friends, share the joy, because we all need to be reminded of the good things sometimes.
Until next time.